What are the Dark Sides of an Expired SSL Certificate

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Why is the SSL Certificate Renewal Process Important?

It is well known that SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the backbone of our online security. SSL certificates make sure that the data transferred between the web server and the web browser is secure. Without an SSL certificate, there will be no assurance that the sensitive information you enter online will be private and safe. Sensitive information includes your credit card information, passwords, account numbers and other personal data that you provide online. An SSL certificate does not only provide security for your website but also protects your end users’ data. However, it comes with a validity period of one or two years and it has to be renewed after it gets over. Let’s look more into detail.

darksides-of-expired-ssl-certificate

Why do SSL Certificates Expire?

You might wonder why an SSL certificate expires and why you have to buy a new certificate every year or every two years. Many think it is a scam from the certificate authorities so that they can make a lot of money through this. Likewise, keeping track of your SSL certificates and their renewal dates could be burdensome to you. Most of all, the bills could be hefty. No one would want to buy new SSL certificates on a regular basis and pay hefty bills. This process would seem useless to many.

But you need to know that the validity period of SSL certificates is not decided by the certificate authorities themselves but by the Certificate Authority Browser Forum, commonly known as the CA/B Forum. Years back, SSL certificates valid for three years and more were issued but now certificates valid for only two years are being issued. This is done for security reasons as security is more important without which an SSL certificate will not have any importance at all.

If SSL certificates do not expire, many businesses that have gone out of business will still be viewed as legitimate businesses. Someone could easily grab the domain and the certificate and do anything with the domain. When you access such a website, it will look legitimate to you as the SSL will be valid. You could easily be cheated on as you might not know that the company is no longer in business. You will likely trust the website because the website has a valid SSL certificate. This kind of fraud may not happen if the certificate had expired.

SSL Certificate Validity

You can buy an SSL certificate valid for one or two years but not more than that. This was not the case years back and certificates with even five years validity were issued. Later, the validity period was reduced to three years. It was finally reduced to two years in 2017. In the future, validity could become even shorter. There are some certificate authorities that issue certificates valid for just three months. Shorter validity periods allow the SSL certificate authorities to implement changes to the technology quickly.

Guidelines could change and if the certificates are valid for too long, it will take a very long time for the changes to go into effect. In order to reduce the existence of older and vulnerable certificates, the validity of the SSL certificates was decreased to two years.

This way, certificates with an outdated algorithm would not remain in use for a very long time. Reduced validity period helps in making sure that it does not take too long for the SSL certificates to comply with the new guidelines.

Now, you might have understood why SSL renewal is important. The renewal process is just like the process of purchasing a new SSL certificate.

How to Check if the SSL Certificate Expired?

When your SSL certificate expires, people visiting your website will receive a warning message and may not be able to access your website. This is why keeping track of the renewal dates is important.

Certificate authorities and certificate resellers send emails when the SSL certificates are about to expire. They send emails in advance so that you will have enough time to renew your SSL certificate. To make sure your SSL certificate is valid, you will have to keep track of the email notifications from the Certificate Authorities or the certificate resellers.

Likewise, there are online tools like SSL Checker that will help you to verify that your SSL certificate is valid and is correctly installed. All you need to do is to enter your website URL and click on the “Check” button and voila – your certificate details will be displayed in seconds. Following are the details this tool will display.

  • Name of the server
  • Name of the Certificate Authority
  • Common Name which is the Domain Name
  • The name of your organization
  • Certificate validity period
  • Signature Algorithm
  • Name of the Issuer

How to Check if the SSL Certificate Expired?

SSL certificates will not be auto-renewed and will be canceled as they have an expiry date. An expired certificate will not only affect your website users but also your website.

As a website owner, the following are the consequences you would face.

  • Your website will become untrustworthy to your visitors
  • Your brand reputation will be affected
  • Your website will become susceptible to cyber attacks
  • You will lose customers which in turn will result in reduced sales and revenue

Following are the consequences your website visitors would face.

  • Vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks where their personal information will be at risk
  • Error messages will be displayed on their browsers
  • May not be able to access your website

How to Renew an SSL Certificate?

The steps involved in the process of renewing an SSL certificate are the same as purchasing a new one. When you renew an SSL certificate, you are actually purchasing a new SSL certificate for your website.

Renew Comodo Positive SSL

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Renew Comodo SSL Certificate

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Following are the steps involved in the renewal process.

  1. Generate a CSR
  2. Select your SSL certificate
  3. Select the validity period of your SSL certificate (1 or 2 years)
  4. Provide the required information
  5. Click on “Continue” after entering the discount code, if any
  6. Login to “Account Manager”
  7. Review your order and make the payment
  8. Install the SSL certificate on your server

Conclusion

Having a valid SSL certificate for your website is essential. It is normal to forget the renewal dates. Don’t wait for your certificate to expire. If your certificate is expiring, start the renewal process as soon as possible to avoid all the risks.

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