The dreaded SSL connection errors may appear out of nowhere or as a consequence of lousy SSL implementations. One thing is sure: you don’t want your visitors to read alarming messages when loading your website. On this page, you will find tutorials on how to fix SSL errors.
Browser notifications such as “Your connection is not private,” “The site’s security certificate is not trusted,” or “Secure connection failed” indicate its inability to establish a secure connection with the website’s server. Besides bringing negative vibes, these errors threaten the integrity of your site and business. Your visitors will leave in droves if you don’t address this issue.
What are SSL errors?
An SSL error is a browser’s inability to establish a secure connection with the website’s server. When the browser can’t verify the SSL certificate’s identity for one reason or another, instead of connecting users to the website, it warns them that the site may be insecure. SSL certificate errors pose security, financial and reputational risks to websites if not fixed promptly.
Why am I getting SSL errors?
You’re getting SSL errors because something is wrong with the website’s SSL certificate configuration. When your browser attempts to connect with the server, it performs a series of checks known as SSL handshake to establish encryption algorithms and key exchange. If an element is missing from the server or browser side, the connection will be aborted, and the SSL error will occur.
Most Common SSL Errors
Now that you know what is an SSL error, let’s focus first on the most common ones and see how to fix them. The thing with SSL certificate errors is that they could be caused by anything from a wrong date on your PC to an expired intermediate certificate on the server side. Sometimes, you will try different fixes before finding the culprit and eliminating the issue. Listed below are the most common SSL errors.
1. Browsers don’t trust the SSL Certificate of a particular website
All the popular browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer have a built-in function to recognize trusted root SSL Certificates. These certificates are issued by regulated Certificate Authorities (CA), also called “root authorities,” hence root SSL Certificates. When a browser encounters such certificates it validates them. However, if the browser detects an SSL Certificate not signed by one of the trusted “roots,” it will display a connection error.
For security reasons, most CAs add several layers of protection when issuing SSL Certificates. They don’t sign end-entity/website certificates directly from the root but instead deploy an ‘intermediate certificate’ to generate a “chain of trust” to the root cert.
This way, the root certificate will sign the intermediate, and the intermediate will sign the certificates of individual websites. As a result, the most common SSL connection errors are caused either by the absence of an intermediate SSL certificate or by the presence of a self-signed SSL Certificate.
2. Intermediate SSL Certificate is missing
If the website administrator lacks the knowledge and experience to install the SSL Certificate with all the intermediates, he may commit mistakes during the process.
A proper configuration should display the chain of trust that the Internet browser will use to verify the certificate. The trusted root certificate must sign the Intermediate certificate, which, in turn, signs the server certificate.
Learn more about root and intermediate certificates. The SSL Certificates brands (Certificate Authorities) have dedicated pages where you can find their root and intermediate certs. Contact them or your vendor for more details..
If you’ve bought an SSL Certificate from SSL Dragon but struggle to install it, here is a page with SSL certificate installation instructions. Also, you can find detailed documentation about the SSL Certificates’ best installation practices at SSL Labs.
3. The website has a Self-Singed Certificate
Website owners or organizations can become their own certificate Authorities and sign their own certificates. Self-signed SSL certs are a viable solution for securing intranet networks and are convenient in testing environments where you need to encrypt development servers. However, they are not suitable for commercial websites. Browsers don’t trust self-signed certificates and mark them as not secure.
For your SSL Certificate to work smoothly, you should host every file on a secure source. All your images, videos, documents, and scripts must come from an HTTPS link. If not, your visitors will receive a security warning asking permission to display nonsecure items.
If the visitors click yes, the connection will automatically revert to HTTP. To avoid such an error, make sure you update all your links, references, canonical tags, plugins/add-ons, robots.txt, and webmaster tools to the HTTPS version of your website.
This is the ERR_SSL_VERSION_OR_CIPHER_MISMATCH error. To start a successful HTTPS connection, the domain name of the SSL certificate must match the domain name in the browser URL. Otherwise, the browser will think that the SSL Certificate belongs to a different website address. If the certificate belongs to domain.com, but the visitor typed www.domain.com in the browser. When buying an SSL Certificate, ensure it supports both “with” and “without www.” URLs.
This error can also occur when several websites use the same shared hosting environment and IP address. In this case, the server may mistakenly present the SSL Certificate for the wrong domain. To avoid such an error, consider securing multiple domains with a single Multiple Domains (UCC/SAN) certificate.
This is the NET::ERR_CERT_REVOKED error. The primary cause of this error is a revoked SSL certificate by the Certificate Authority. SSL revocation cancels an issued SSL certificate and removes the secure HTTPS connection from a website.
If you’re faced with this error as the website owner, that’s a major red flag. Your certificate keys may have been compromised, or the CA may have issued the certificate to the wrong site. Another possible reason could be DNS or network issues that prevent your computer from accessing the CRL (Certificate Revocation List Providers).
Other SSL Errors
Below we’ve compiled an extensive list of SSL errors to help you troubleshoot and fix SSL connection issues. Here we cover legacy errors, mobile devices, and everything in between them.
- Modulus Mismatch
- SSL Connection Error on Android
- Cloudflare Error 525 – SSL Handshake Failed
- Expired Intermediate SSL Certificate
How to Fix SSL Errors as a Website Owner?
If browsers suddenly don’t trust your website and display an SSL connection error, it’s time to take immediate action. You don’t want visitors to see the off-putting security warning and have a negative impression of your site or brand.
As a website owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure secure connections and protect users’ sensitive data against cyber attacks. So, when an SSL certificate error pops up, you must fix it quickly. Here’s how you should tackle the SSL issues:
1. Determine whether your server or the browser is causing the problem
The quickest way to pinpoint any SSL error is to scan your SSL certificate with an SSL testing tool. You will get instant reports on critical parameters like protocol support, handshake simulation, cipher suites, and more. If something is wrong with your SSL certificate or server, the testing tool should catch it and suggest a solution.
2. Check your hosting platform and Certificate Authority
Most times, server-side SSL errors come from improper SSL installation configuration and management. If you host your website on a reliable platform, the chances of a security issue are slim. Commercial hosting providers employ the latest cryptographic protocols and measures to comply with stringent SSL requirements.
The SSL error may also originate from the Certificate Authority’s side if one of its roots or intermediate certificates is compromised. While this is highly unlikely, the CA will swiftly revocate (invalidate) your certificate before its expiration date.
3. Review your SSL installation and renewal
The most common reason you might experience an SSL error is your SSL certificate and how you’ve handled the installation steps. Since there isn’t a universal way to install a certificate for all web servers, missing an important step is easy. Our step-by-step SSL installation tutorials can help you configure your certificate the right way.
Check for a missing intermediate.
Ensure you’ve uploaded all your SSL files, including the CA Bundle or separate root and intermediate certificates, in the correct order and directory. One misstep could break the SSL chain of trust and leave browsers unable to identify the server.
Renew your SSL certificate on time.
An expired SSL certificate error is another preventable rookie error that can harm your reputation and budget. You should always renew your certificate a few days or weeks in advance to avoid unexpected website outages.
Enforce HTTPS on all your links and pages
Just as importantly, you must ensure that all your internal links and resources load over HTTPS. That includes images, files, and scripts within your theme and code. Browsers scan for mixed content and flag the website as not secure when the connection goes over HTTP instead of HTTPS.
How to Fix SSL Errors as a Website Visitor?
You can’t do much about a server-side SSL error if you’re a user without backend access. The best action is to contact the website’s administrator and let them know about the issue.
But sometimes, the SSL certificate error will persist on a browser, while other programs will load the website just fine. If this is your scenario, the issue could arise locally from your browser or operating system. Here are the most common SSL errors and fixes caused by third-party programs.
Wrong Date on your PC
If your time and date are not synced with the universal Internet time, browsers may mistakenly think that your SSL certificate has expired. Alternatively, the SSL certificate could indeed expire, but your time still runs in the past. To fix this SSL error, you need to adjust your time and set it to update automatically.
The obsolete browser or OS version
The older browser or OS versions may include unsupported encryption protocols and outdated algorithms. That’s why it’s imperative to keep your systems and browsers up-to-date.
Conflicting Antivirus software
Your antivirus settings may interfere with the browser or SSL parameters and cause false positives. Try disabling your antivirus and reloading your website to eliminate this potential suspect.
Your cache and cookies
When you surf the Web, your browser collects and stores all kinds of data like browsing history, website cookies, and local storage. If you don’t clear your cache and cookies from time to time, they may interfere with functionality, including the SSL certificate. It’s always a good practice to clear your browser’s data when encountering an SSL certificate error.
SSL errors will occur as long as websites use SSL certificates to encrypt sensitive data. Too many variables and systems interact to deliver perfect functionality in a dynamic environment like the Web. Thankfully, many solutions exist for fixing SSL certificate errors.
We’ve tried to amass and present as many types of SSL errors and repairs as possible so you can learn how to deal with them in any situation. The most common questions users ask us are what is an SSL error and how to fix SSL errors. This page provides in-depth answers to both queries.