The internet has now become a key part of the survival and functioning of almost all businesses. Cyber attacks are increasing every day and getting more sophisticated by the hour. Cybersecurity is now more important than ever before – this makes it critical that you ensure proper authentication and security of your website. SSL certificates have now become the mainstay of protecting your users from MITM (man in the middle) attacks launched by unscrupulous hackers.
What is an SSL certificate, and does it expire?
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) switches on the much safer HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) protocol for communication, instead of the plain HTTP. An SSL certificate encrypts the link between the user’s browser and your web server. This means that all the data transferred between these two is now secure and private. A valid SSL allows your users to navigate your website without worrying about the exchanged information being stolen by cybercriminals and used for devious purposes.
SSL certificates come with specific validity periods, and hence they do expire – these timeframes are a critical part of the mechanism to assure SSL security. The validity period confirms and regulates the authenticity of your server, which is key to the web browsers in establishing your server’s identity. You should always have your finger on the expiration dates of the SSL certificates you use and manage.
One of the most vital processes to protect your website from damage and data theft is to fix expired SSL certificates. Let us look at what it means to have an expired SSL certificate and what steps to take after its expiration.
What does it mean to have an expired SSL certificate?
Think of it like an expired passport, which must be renewed in time to maintain up-to-date and accurate information with your government, so the countries you visit can depend on it – SSL certificates behave the same way. Once they get expired, web browsers will start displaying a warning on your pages, announcing to the world that your SSL certificate has expired.
SSL certificates typically expire in max. 2 years. The reason this mechanism has been adopted is to make sure that the information on the certificate is kept updated, so it can accurately prove your legitimacy as the trusted domain owner. Hence, periodic SSL certificate expiration helps in creating a cycle that helps maintain and solidify trust, security, and ownership of your website.
It is critical that you keep monitoring your SSL certificates so they can be renewed pre-emptively before their expiration. You will usually get a notification from your CA (certificate authority) ahead of your SSL certificate’s expiration date. Don’t want to deal with the consequences of having an expired SSL? Renew your certificate as soon as you get the notice.
What are the consequences of letting your SSL certificate expire?
For starters, you are risking your authentication with the users and the encryption of the information being exchanged by using an expired SSL certificate. As a consequence, both your site and the users are now open to the possibility of cyberattacks and viruses. There are many ways hackers can exploit the situation. For instance, they may decide to create an identical fake website and damage your reputation with their sinister activities.
As pointed earlier, if your website has an expired SSL certificate, your visitors will see warning signs on their browsers that may block them from visiting your site. For instance, Google Chrome will throw a big scary logo with a message telling the victors their connection is not secure/private. Your users are now unlikely to move forward to your website, as they are now scared.
When your users navigate to your website and are blocked out by such security warnings, you are going to see a drop in your traffic, which will lead to lost business. Your online presence plays a significant role in how the reputation of your brand is perceived – do not let it bite the dust by having an expired SSL certificate on your website. It is critical that you maintain an up-to-date SSL on your site to attract your customers and maintain a good relationship with them.
It is critical that you have and maintain valid SSL certificates to preserve the trust and authenticity of your website. Not only does SSL help protect your information, but it also plays a crucial role in establishing positive relationships with your customers. It is important for you to understand SSL certificate expiration and know how to fix them so that you can maintain a positive reputation for your business and brand.
How can you renew your expired SSL certificate?
Irrespective of how much you try to stay on top of your schedule, life does get busy, and you eventually forget to get to some things in time – happens with everyone. That is why it is important for you to know how to renew your expired SSL certificate.
Produce a new CSR Code
The Certificate Signing Code can get from the control panel provided to you by your hosting provider (this is the platform where you installed your SSL certificate) or by contacting them via email or other means.
Select the type of SSL certificate you want
Just like when you first got your SSL certificate, you can select the type of SSL that best fits the needs of your business and your website – there are many kinds of certificates and provide different levels of validation.
Validate your SSL renewal request
Confirming your renewal request requires you to complete a domain control validation (DVC) that proves your claim of ownership rights on your website. In general, there are 3 ways (your SSL provider may provide you with different ways of doing so) of finishing your DCV:
- DNS validation
- HTTP URL based validation
- Email-based validation
Install your SSL certificate
This step varies based on who your hosting provider is. Follow the SSL certificate installation guide provided by your hosting provider or contact them to get detailed steps for installing the SSL certificate on your web server.
Make sure your certificate is installed correctly, and the users do not see the security warning anymore. Work with your SSL provider and the hosting provider to iron out any issues.
Forgetting to replace or renew an expired SSL certificate is common. However, there are many tools that can help you minimize the risk that this poses – adopt these aids. The key is to automate or have better visibility and communication, so you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to SSL certificate expirations. And if all else fails and you do end up with an expired SSL certificate, just go ahead and renew it as soon as possible.