What Happens When Your SSL Certificate Expires

What Happens When Your SSL Certificate Expires?

SSL certificates are not new to the cyber world. More and more websites are embracing the use of SSL certificates. According to Google’s Transparency Report, all pages loaded on google chrome in The US were encrypted with an SSL certificate. Comparing this trend four years ago, it was only 45%. I am sure that this trend will continue if SSL certificates continue to provide a crucial encryption role to websites. 

SSL certificates play a vital role in websites. They establish a secure session by encrypting all the communication between the web servers and the web browsers preventing intruders from accessing the communication. Users have become clever and want to be sure of the security of their information. Today, we have so many fake websites. According to Symantec, one out of ten URLs is malicious. Users will be looking at security signals such as SSL certificate to be sure that they can trust your website.

SSL certificates also play other roles. They can be used by websites to achieve SEO strategies. Websites with SSL certificates will rank higher than those without an SSL certificate in the Search Engine Results Pages. All these benefits leave you with no choice but to install an SSL certificate on your website. If you are handling multiple subdomains, then a wildcard SSL certificate is a cost-effective and convenient option to secure all subdomains under a single certificate. It will establish a secure environment across all subdomains using modern encryption. It saves your time and money from multiple certificate management.

SSL certificates also play other roles. They can be used by websites to achieve SEO strategies. Websites with SSL certificates will rank higher than those without an SSL certificate in the Search Engine Results Pages. All these benefits leave you with no choice but to install an SSL certificate on your website. Furthermore, you do not need an SSL certificate for every domain on your website. In the case of subdomains’ security, just a Wildcard SSL certificate is ideal for you. Even the cheapest Wildcard SSL certificate will offer the level of encryption that you desire.

Certificate authorities issue an SSL certificate. Usually, these SSL certificates will have an expiration date. It is the issue of the SSL expiration date that I want to address today. To start with, let us know the reasons as to why SSL certificates expire.

Why does an SSL certificate Expire?

Would it just save me time and money if they could issue certificates that do not expire? People sometimes find themselves asking these questions. It just seems like SSL certificate management would be simplified if the certificates would just be installed and forgotten. Certificate expiration and renewals do help a lot with website security. There are two reasons for the expiration of an SSL certificate.

The first reason as to why SSL certificates expire is because of the evolving security standards. Cyber insecurities are quickly evolving. Sometimes, hackers will come up with a completely new hacking technique. Software and security tools will have to be redefined and made to deal with new security vulnerabilities. It also applies to SSL certificates. Every time you renew your SSL certificate, you will be signing up for advanced security features and ciphers. SSL expiration and renewals will help you keep encryption up to date with the new features from the renewals you will make.

The other reason as to why SSL certificate expires is because of authentication reasons. As you might already know, all SSL certificates play an authentication role. For any form of authentication to be accurate, revalidation needs to be done. Information that you are using should occasionally be revalidated to ensure that it is true. Things change hands all the time; businesses change ownership and management.

Businesses change their names when they are bought or sold. Certificates authorities need to ensure that all the information that they are using to validate the servers remain as authentic and accurate as possible. For this to be affected, new information and details need to be taken during certificate renewals. This shows the expiry of an SSL certificate is vital. If you are an SSL certificate owner, you should take SSL expiration on a much more positive note. All you need to know is what your next step should be in case your SSL certificate expires.

If my SSL certificate expires?

One of the most common questions I have been asked is, “what will happen when my SSL certificate expires?” I will be sincere with you. Certificate expiration is not a good thing as it can have severe consequences for you.

SSL certificate facilitates the encryption of all communication and data files in transit. By installing an SSL certificate on your website, you establish a secure connection and build a security wall that hackers cannot easily break.  SSL certificate will allow the HTTPS protocol on your website. Usually, SSL certificates will have a lifespan of 13 months.  This means that every website owner will have to renew an SSL certificate every year.

When an SSL certificate expires, it will start issuing warnings. Furthermore, your website will lose all the benefits that were being received from the SSL certificate. For instance, when your web visitors receive a security warning message cautioning them that your website is no longer secure, they might not visit your website. You will lose your traffic, and conversion rates will decrease. Such happenings have a terrible impact on the sales and revenue of your business. Furthermore, the expiration of an SSL certificate will harm the ranking of your website.

High profile SSL certificate expiration

As crucial as the issue of SSL certificate expiration is and as necessary as SSL renewals might be, it is sad to learn that even high-profile organizations are caught up in this mix. At least, this gives you some solace that you are not alone but let it not be a ground on which to build your ignorance and assume the warning signs.

  1. The LinkedIn SSL certificate expiration has already happened twice; LinkedIn lets its SSL certificates expire twice in two years! The second SSL expiration saw the failure of the link shortener- lnkd.in. This rendered the site unreachable to all those who tried to access the site.
  2. The US government shutdown games that caused the expiration of over 130 government-managed SSL certificates. The shutdowns in 2018 and part of 2019 were staged by the two political parties governing the US government.
  3. The Ericsson SSL Certificate incidence that occurred in December 2018 left millions of UK citizens without cellular network.
  4. The Equifax data breach is one of the most significant data breaches that the world ever witnessed. Equifax lost millions of both its personal information and that of users. What is even more astounding being that Equifax overlooked the data breach for 76 days. The reason for this incident was an expired SSL certificate. It was not until the certificate was renewed that the data breach inspection resumed.

Other famous cases of certificate expirations led to bigger issues in the respective organizations and websites. Other cases include the Pokeman Go certificate expiration case, the UK conservative party SSL expiration case.

How to prevent your SSL certificate from expiring

The first step towards avoiding your SSL certificate expiration is to use a certificate management service where all SSL certificates activities are carried out in one account. Doing this makes it very easy to manage your SSL certificates activities and operations. You will be able to avoid being caught up with expiration dates. Some certificate management services also help renew snapshots to have a clear understanding of when exactly your SSL certificates will expire. You can then renew the certificate just by the click of a button.

Some Certificate Authorities also offer renewal benefits for early renewals. You will have all your SSL certificates renewals happening at an early time. You, therefore, do not need to worry about when the certificates will expire.

The third option is to assign a certificate management task to multiple certificate managers. This helps a lot, especially when a user cannot carry out the renewals, or one or more users forget to renew the certificate. Your other “certificate guys” will carry out the certificate renewal.

CONCLUSION

SSL certificates are essential security of each website, and every website should have it. Every website owner should strive to have an SSL certificate. It is also prudent to understand that SSL certificates usually have expiry dates. Every user should know why expiry dates are so crucial, why, and how to renew the SSL certificates and the consequences of failure to do so. This article has clearly explained the concept of SSL expiry and given some classic examples of high-profile SSL expiration.

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