Internet users are becoming increasingly more aware of the security—or lack thereof—on the sites they visit. The slightest hint that something is wrong, like slow load times or a pop-up message, could tempt a user to bounce. Even the most legitimate websites can scare users away if there is an expired SSL Certificate on the site, leading to a decline in traffic.
Web browsers warn users of expired certificates with brightly-colored and bold messages. Some users might not pay attention to what the warning says, but will still leave because of the simple fact there is a warning message. These warning messages are scary for users and should motivate site owners and system admins to keep SSL Certificates up-to-date. For users, a warning message could instill a feeling of distrust, and possibly permanently damage their trust in the website.
SSL Certificate Expiration
Site owners and admins should understand the importance of renewing certificates because of the possible negative consequences: reduced site traffic, lack of user trust, etc. That being said, how do certificate expiration dates creep up and end up not getting renewed? There are definitely many answers to this question, but the following are a couple of scenarios.
Unavailable System Admin
In some cases, an admin may move to another company and forget to update the contact information with the Certificate Authority before he or she departs. Thus, the emails reminding the company of an expiring certificate go unseen, and the certificate expires. Another related issue occurs when an admin is the only one who manages a company’s certificates. A certificate could expire if that person is unavailable or out of the office.
Inefficient Platforms for Managing Certificates
In other cases, a certificate could expire because the system admin doesn’t have an efficient certificate management platform. Some admins still use excel spread sheets or calendars to management their certificate lifecycle events. While these may work if the company only has a few certificates, these methods are not effective for a company with tens or hundreds of certificates in their network. One expiring certificate could easily be overlooked.
Having a certificate expire can happen to anyone (even Google). But you can still take the proper steps to avoid it. In the first example, we learn that only having one person manage a company’s certificate isn’t the best idea. The second example shows us that inefficient certificate management tools could cause certificates to expire without the admin realizing.
Robust Certificate Management Platforms
A sophisticated certificate management tool can help solve these issues. Certificate management platforms are usually available through the CA who issued the SSL Certificate. DigiCert Certificate Inspector is an powerful tool for anyone that manages SSL and Code Signing Certificates. As a Certificate Authority and leader in digital certificate support, DigiCert created this tool to specifically target user pain points. For example, the tool allows you to track and manage all of your certificates in one place. Added benefits include cloud-based access and support on Windows and Linux. Using a management tool makes it easier to stay on top of expiration dates and actions needed.
More Cert Inspector Benefits
- It not only tracks certificate expiration, it also warns you about vulnerabilities with your certificate or in your network
- It can manage all certificates on a network (not just DigiCert Certificates)
- It is also free for anyone, so there’s no reason not to get it