Dark web browser close-up on LCD screen with shallow focus on https for SSL certificate error

When browsing through websites and entering personal information, such as your email address or banking details, this can be done safely, thanks to an SSL certificate.

This digital security certificate authenticates a website’s identity and encrypts your information, all so cybercriminals don’t swipe your data.

The average user generally won’t have come across an SSL certificate unless they encounter an SSL certificate error. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to find out what an SSL certificate is and know what you can do to fix any errors. 

This guide will help explain what is an SSL certificate, what they’re used for, and how to fix an SSL certificate error.

What is an SSL Certificate?

An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a digital certificate, also known as a public key certificate or identity certificate, that is used to prove and authenticate a website. It validates a website and allows it to use an encrypted connection using HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), a secure version of HTTP for transmitting web pages.

When you visit a website with an SSL certificate, the browser will check the certificate to make sure it is valid and that the website is who it claims to be. The browser will create an encrypted connection to the website if the certificate is valid. This means that any information you send to the website, such as your credit card information, will be encrypted and protected from hackers.

An error occurs when an SSL certificate can’t be validated. This error will prevent you from accessing the website or display a warning about the risks of entering the website, as threat actors can steal data used on the site.

These errors can be caused by server issues or simple problems you can fix on your device. Despite the error message, you may be able to proceed to the site. Still, it’s a significant risk if you don’t have the proper protection against malicious activity, such as phishing attacks or infostealer malware.


What is an SSL Certificate used for?

Developers and website owners use an SSL certificate to verify and secure their sites. They are typically issued by a trusted third-party organisation, such as Comodo, Symantec, or DigiCert. These third-party companies only give a certificate to a website that they have verified their identity.

What’s more, an SSL certificate comes with several perks, including:

  • Protecting sensitive information: SSL certificates encrypt information sent between a website and its visitors, protecting it from hackers.
  • Improving website security: Makes it more difficult for hackers to impersonate a website and steal information from its visitors.
  • Boosting customer confidence: It shows visitors that a website is trustworthy and their information is safe.

Types of SSL Certificates

Here are some of the different types of SSL certificates:

  • Domain Validation (DV) SSL certificates: These certificates are the most basic type of SSL certificate. They require the domain owner to prove that they own the domain name.
  • Organization Validation (OV) SSL certificates: Certificates that require the organisation to provide additional information about itself, such as its legal name and address.
  • Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificates: The most expensive type of SSL certificate. They require the organisation to undergo a rigorous vetting process, and they display a green address bar in the browser.

The type of SSL certificate needed will depend on the website. A DV SSL certificate is sufficient for running a small website with a blog. An OV or EV SSL certificate is better for an e-commerce website with sensitive customer information. 

What causes an SSL Certificate Error?

There are plenty of reasons why you may see an SSL certificate error. You will see an error message like the one seen below. You may even see other error messages, including:

– “SSL certificate error”

The error will appear if a website’s certificate has expired, is not trusted by your browser, or has not been correctly configured.

The biggest cause for concern is when a browser states that your information is at risk. As the error message says, “Attacks might be trying to steal your information from [website URL] (for example, password, messages, or credit cards).”

These dodgy websites could use phishing tactics to swipe your valuable data. It’s important to have the right protection on your device to stop these types of phishing attacks in their tracks using a trustworthy antivirus scanner.

Google Chrome SSL Certificate error

How to fix SSL Certificate Errors

When you get an SSL certificate error, you’ll see a “Your connection is not private” message with a specific error, such as “NET:ERR_CERT_COMMON_NAME_INVALID” or “NET:ERR_CERT_DATE_INVALID.”

Whatever the cause, we recommend trying the steps below to fix the issue. However, be sure to use a reliable antivirus scanner to keep your information safe, such as your email, passwords and banking information.

  1. Update your browser

    Google Chrome update Chrome

    First and foremost, make sure you update your browser.

    Keeping your browser up to date gives you access to new features and bolsters security, but it can also help validate certificates if an older version of the browser can’t get past the error. 

    To update Chrome or check if the browser is up to date, click the three dots at the top-right corner of your Chrome browser. Select Settings.

    Select About Chrome. If a new version is available, click Check for updates. When it’s finished, select Relaunch. Make sure to save your work and other activities, as this will close all tabs and windows currently open. 

  2. Sync your system clock

    Windows time and date settings

    An SSL certificate may use your device’s internal clock for it to be validated. If your time is wrong, set to the wrong time zone or failed to synchronise, then this could be causing the SSL connection error. 

    To fix this, you’ll need to head into your system clock’s settings. Right-click the system clock on your System Tray and select Adjust date and time. In Time zone, see if your time is set to the correct time zone. You can click the drop-down menu to adjust the location. If this isn’t available, turn off Set the time zone automatically

    To ensure your Windows time stays accurate, turn on Set the time automatically and Adjust for daylight saving time automatically. Next, click Sync now to ensure Windows is current with its time. 

  3. Clear your browser cache and cookies

    Google Chrome clear cache and browser cookies

    If a website’s SSL certificate has changed since the last time you visited, your browser’s cookies and cache could prevent you from visiting the site with the SSL error. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to clear your browser cache and cookies. 

    To do this on Chrome, click the three dots at the top-right corner of your Chrome browser. Select Settings.

    Select Privacy and security in the left-hand panel. Click on Clear browsing data and then Advanced. Choose the time range you wish to clear browser data and check the Cookies and other side data and Cached images and files boxes. Then select Clear data

  4. Clear the SSL state

    Windows Settings Clear SSL State

    If you have tried to access a site previously and it will no longer let you access it due to an SSL certificate error, your system may have stored the certificate locally and is trying to validate this version. To help clear up the issue, you should clear your device’s SSL state.

    In the search field on the taskbar, search for Internet Options and click on it. In the Internet Properties window that pops up, click on the Content tab. Under Certificates, click on Clear SSL state.

    Now, when accessing the website with the error, your browser will re-validate the SLL certificate, which may solve the problem.

  5. Perform a safety check

    Google Chrome Safety Check

    If you’re accessing a website with the SSL certificate error, make sure to keep your browser safe from malicious extensions installed by performing a safety check. After all, it could be a dodgy website trying to steal your information.

    Back in Settings, select Privacy and security in the left-hand panel. Under Safety check, click Check now (or the arrow to perform it again).

    If your browser finds any issues, you’ll be able to tap on the option and follow the instructions to see how to handle the it. For those who don’t want to give malware hiding on web pages any chances, you can also turn on Advanced protection.

    In Privacy and security, click on Safe Browsing under Safety Check or Security under Privacy and security. Select Enhanced protection to turn it on.

  6. Use antivirus software to detect and stop malware

    Norton 360 Security and Settings

    It’s important to keep your sensitive information and device safe from all threats, including viruses and malware, especially if you’re visiting sites with an SSL connection error. That’s when one of the best antivirus software like Norton 360 (from $19.99/year) will keep you safe from any malicious software, like ransomware, adware, spyware, phishing and more.

    That’s not all; antivirus software can provide extra features like VPNs, cloud storage, PC boosters, and more. Norton 360 has all these features and extra security tools that can backup your data, prevent online identity theft and stop malware. 

    What’s more, Norton 360 comes with active monitoring features to scan all the browser-related activities and block malicious websites. It will help detect and notify you about any malicious browser activity and stop it. 

    Check out our Norton 360 review and Norton 360 Platinum review to see which antivirus package suits you best. 

Darragh Murphy
Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from the mischievous world of online security to washing machines designed for earbuds. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for laptops into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. When he's not checking out the latest devices and all things tech, he can be found swimming laps, watching terrible shark movies, and trying to find time to game.  Previous Editor at Laptop Mag and News Editor at Time Out Dubai, specialising in food culture, nightlife events, gaming, tech and entertainment.


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