Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate is one of the critical pillars of website security. They authenticate websites and domains and play a very vital role in encrypting in-transit internet traffic. The SSL certificates can also be used to verify the authenticity of the servers. Without the SSL certificate, it would be very difficult for website users to tell whether a website is legit or not.
The SSL certificate ensures secure communications and data transfers between web servers and web browsers. The certificate encrypts the connection, ensuring that no intruder can access, read or alter the communication or data in transit. All websites should have an SSL certificate if they have to escape the wrath of the many data breaches today.
In 2020, there was a policy change that was announced by Google, Apple, and Mozilla. The lifespan of SSL certificates was reduced to 398 days from a previous lifespan of 825 days. It meant that the SSL certificate would expire after 398 days if not renewed on time. Several security risks come with an expired SSL certificate. To prevent your certificates from expiring, you must renew them on time. Let us now look at some of the risks that come with an expired SSL certificate.
The Dangers of an Expired SSL Certificate
Several dangers come with an expired certificate. After going through the following risks brought about by an expired SSL certificate, you will have a reason to always renew your SSL certificate on time.
- An Expired SSL Certificate Exposes Your Website to Insecurity Threats
All the sensitive data and information your website holds are vulnerable to data breaches if your website does not have an SSL certificate. An expired certificate is as bad as the lack of one. An expired SSL certificate will not offer encryption to data and information in transit. The communication between web servers and website browsers will be transmitted through plain texts that hackers can easily access, read, alter or compromise.
Whenever cybercriminals notice that your SSL certificate has expired, they will swiftly reach out to your website and steal your sensitive information before you renew the certificate. Data breaches have devastating impacts. They come with high costs. According to a 2018 Hiscox small business cyber risk report, most businesses and organizations that fall victims to data breaches end up closing operations within six months after the hack. Such could be the repercussions of an expired SSL certificate. You cannot afford to live with an expired SSL certificate and face dire consequences. The best strategy is to renew the certificate on time.
- Reduced Traffic That Result in the Decline of Revenues
Visitors who visit a website with an expired SSL certificate will be warned against proceeding with an insecure connection. Unfortunately, most visitors who see these warnings will end up leaving your website and instead visit your competitors’ websites. Your web visitors are scared about their security, which explains why they will opt out of your website and look for safe websites. The thing is, no website visitor is willing to put his/her sensitive information in jeopardy by using a website that makes him/her vulnerable.
A visitor lost is revenue lost. You are operating a website because you want to increase your conversion rates and make profits. But this is not going to be possible if you do not have customers. Soon, you will start realizing huge losses, and the cost of doing business will be extremely high. Do not allow a simple thing such as an expired SSL certificate to be the source of business failure. This is something that will take you very little time to rectify. We will later discuss how you can easily prevent your certificates from expiring.
- An Expired SSL Certificate Damages Your Reputation and Reduces Brand’s Credibility and Trust
A Ponemon Institute research report reveals that over a third of web visitors say that they cannot visit a website with an expired SSL certificate. The security warning that your visitors receive when they visit your website with an expired SSL certificate is enough to damage your website’s reputation. The thought of having their sensitive data and information compromised will make your website visitors avoid your website.
You should know that an SSL certificate is one of the most crucial trust indicators. This is because your users will want to use the SSL certificate to verify your legitimacy. It will, however, be impossible for your website visitors to verify your validity or legitimacy if you have an expired SSL certificate. As such, they will not trust your website, and they might see it as a fake website. Such are the things that damage your reputation and tarnish your brand image. To avoid such, you must ensure that you always have a properly functioning SSL certificate.
- Reduced Ranking in Search Engines
Search engines are now using the HTTPS protocol as one of the ranking factors. Previous studies also point to a positive correlation between the HTTPS protocol and high rankings in search engine results pages. As already mentioned, an expired SSL certificate is as bad as the absence of it. It means that, on the expiry of your SSL certificate, you will start witnessing a drop in rankings in the search engine results pages. Although the HTTPS protocol carries less weight than other ranking factors, it is a great building block to Search Engine Optimization and should never be overlooked. If you want to reign the first search engine pages, always ensure that you have an active certificate and that you carry out prompt renewals once the certificate expires.
- Increased Strain of the IT Department
Most customers who cannot access a website will first call the IT department or the customer support team. An expired SSL certificate tampers with the normal operations of a website, and most web visitors who meet the security warning will call the support team for help. The support team will receive several queries. The situation can lead to high costs of running the business. Furthermore, you will be too concerned about dealing with the customer queries to the extent of failing to undertake other pertinent and productive business activities.
Additionally, employees who experience an issue with the SSL certificate will call the IT team for support. The IT team may be overwhelmed with solving the expired SSL issue to the extent of forgetting to handle other security concerns. This increases the organization’s susceptibility to cyber threats.
Preventing Your SSL Certificate from Expiring
At this point, you now understand how dangerous an SSL certificate can be to your business. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to dealing with an expired SSL certificate. The best solution is to undertake timely renewals. The more you delay renewing the SSL certificate, the more dangerous it will be to your website.[adsense]
Some top-ranking SSL certificate providers, such as Comodo SSL certificate, Network Solutions, DigiCert, and GoDaddy, will send you an email reminding you to renew your SSL certificate before the certificate expires. It is vital to ensure that you have an active email account to not miss out on the reminders. The providers will send the reminder months or weeks before the expiry date. The email will also contain a renewal procedure that you can follow to renew the SSL certificate. I advise you not to wait for the certificate to expire. It is best if you renew the certificate before the official expiry date. That way, you will be leaving nothing to chance.
Those organizations with a series of certificates should have an effective renewal strategy that ensures that all SSL certificates are renewed on time. You can also choose to work with an SSL certificate management service to help with renewals.
SSL certificates are critical website protocols that play a significant role in safeguarding websites against data breaches. Every website owner ought to have a certificate for the sake of his/her website’s security. However, website owners should understand that SSL certificates have an expiry date. The certificate will remain effective until it expires. An expired SSL certificate can be dangerous to the organization. This article has explained some of the dangers of an expired SSL certificate and how you can ensure that your SSL certificate does not expire.