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SSL certificates are something that you may never directly encounter when using the internet.
It’s easy to ignore them as a vague part of what goes on behind the scenes as you browse the web, and often, you’d be right.
However, you may need to check your SSL certificate sooner or later to ensure it’s valid and working properly.
If it isn’t, this can have resounding consequences on your website and, by extension, your business.
SSL certificates can only be valid for a maximum of 398 days. This is the result of a change brought into effect on September 1 2020.
The Certification Authority Browser (CA/B) Forum made the adjustment in response to a move by Apple, in which the tech giant stated it would no longer accept certificate validity periods of two years.
Previously, SSL certificates could be valid for two, or even three years, before requiring renewal. This change was made to give greater peace of mind to web users, knowing that a company must renew its certificate every year.
Otherwise, a company could maintain valid SSL status for two or three years despite changes to a business and its stability.
If your business makes sales to customers, it’s highly likely that the first sign you’ll have to an expired certificate is through customer services.
When your certificate expires, any browser attempting to communicate with the server will be given a connection error and the user will be strongly advised not to continue. SSL security isn’t possible without a valid certificate, so any identifying information taken from users will no longer be adequately protected.
If you’re particularly attentive to your SSL security, you may know that your certificate has expired because 398 days have expired, thereby making the certificate invalid.
The quickest way to check an SSL certificate is to access the website through a desktop browser like Chrome or Firefox, which will display an error if the certificate is found to be invalid during the ‘handshake’ phase of accessing the page.
To renew a certificate, you will need to contact a valid Certificate Authority, either the one you first used or a different one.
To generate a new certificate with a CA, you’ll need to create a certificate signing request (CSR) and use this when applying for a new certificate.
You’ll also need to choose the appropriate level of certificate for your site. If you run a web domain that doesn’t take any customer information, then a domain validated (DV) certificate is all you need.
On the other end of the scale, if you take sensitive data from customers including payment and contact details, then an extended validated (EV) certificate is a must.
Renewing your certificate is a straightforward process, and some authorities may offer a managed service which sees them keep your certificate valid for a set number of years.
If your certificate has come from a trusted CA, you can generally trust that it will be valid, being invalid only if some error has been made when generating it.
To be sure of its validity once uploaded, simply visit the website and see if the browser produces any errors. Error codes for invalid SSL certificates make it clear that the problem is related to the certificate, and this is the quickest way to carry out an SSL check.
Some free online resources, such as SSL Checker, allow you to quickly check a web domain and receive information about its certificate.
Verifying a certificate is important if it’s helping to secure sensitive customer information.
Though not a primary focus of our agency, we specialise in digital marketing and search engine optimisation, using our many years of collective experience to guide your online presence and boost your visibility.
We help to make your site more secure and noticeable online, therefore making your business more profitable in competitive markets and helping you find local business through focused SEO.
If you need an agency that understands these matters and can be your guiding hand to fantastic SEO in Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester, and all across the UK, contact Aqueous Digital. To get in touch with our north west team you can either give us a call on 0800 285 1424, or alternatively email us at email@example.com.