The ubiquitous SSL certificate is often overlooked when building websites for clients or yourself. It is usually included with high-performance hosting products making it easy to think of it as an application that can be set and forgotten. SSL issues are not given any second thought.
Then, there’s the call.
SSL issues can come back to bite users. However, being aware of these issues can help you avoid an unfortunate situation that could make your day a nightmare. Let’s look at the most common problems with SSL to help you be better prepared.
Avoid The Top SSL Issues
Although the below list is not exhaustive, we did consult with our web security experts to identify the most common SSL issues.
1. Faulty installation
Most SSL problems arise during the installation process and handover of information. Problems can arise from fumbling with things like security keys and email addresses.
- Domain verification – To verify that the domain SSL protects is owned, an email is sent to the address provided for the domain. The SSL cannot be installed if the email address isn’t accessible or recorded.
- Code implementation – An alternative method to verify your domain is to insert a code from an SSL provider in the DNS TXT record. Problems can arise when a person buys SSL but fails to give the correct verification code to the person installing it.
- Name matching — A wildcard SSL is a way to protect the primary domain of a website and any subdomains. Shop.domain.com is the client’s domain. It’s challenging to add subdomains to a website if they are not supplied before installation.
- Key duplication — This issue is common when a client buys SSL. Clients will be asked to enter their key to sign the certificate. Before handing over their key to the pro, clients who take action could end up with a duplicate or expired certificate.
These are only a few common SSL problems that can arise during installation. It is essential to have a professional handle everything, from purchase to final structure.
2. Expiration & renewal errors
Most browsers won’t trust a certificate with a life expectancy of 398 days or more. The certificate must be renewed before this time runs out. Site owners who don’t like auto-renewal may forget to look for SSLs at day 397 and let the certificate expire. If this happens, you might encounter the SSL problems we just mentioned.
3. HTTPS redirects
All URLs that were previously on SSL should be redirected to HTTPS when a site is moved to SSL. If the URL redirection isn’t what the visitor expects, it can cause problems. For example, a frequent shopper of an e-commerce site may have bookmarked domain.com and included in the 301 redirects.
Although this can cause lost traffic, the solution is simple enough. Pros should configure SSL for all variations and subdomains of the website address.
4. Google site mapping
SSL issues can arise when a website is moved from HTTPS to unencrypted. It is easy to forget about updating the sitemap with HTTPS prefixes when working through all of those redirects. However, it can hurt a site’s SEO if Google crawls a website map that contains pages still using HTTP.
You will need to download the old sitemap, update the links to HTTPS using a simple find/replace and then upload it back to your website’s root folder. This will improve SEO by getting it done sooner.
Many plugins can be used to create sitemaps on WordPress. These plugins can often update to HTTPS. However, not all plugins work in every case. If the plugin doesn’t work, you can use the developer’s help forum to get the sitemap updated to HTTPS if the plugin doesn’t work. Or, you can manually create the sitemap.
5.Warnings about mixed content
A secured web page will throw an error if it attempts to load content from unencrypted sources. If a professional build a website to display real estate listings and then gives the keys to their client, this could cause problems.
It will be detrimental to the business if the client creates a listing that pulls images from an unencrypted database. Each link to the listing they attempted to publish would show an error rather than pictures of a beautiful mid-century modern property that their photographer shared from an unverified database.
Final thoughts on SSL issues
It’s easy to assume that SSL is already part of the building process for a website, given the importance that search engines place on it. SSL problems can take up to a whole day. A turnkey solution such as the Managed SSL Services from Intentjet is the best way to save hours of troubleshooting.
Experts are available to assist with installation and maintenance. This small investment will give you peace of mind knowing your site is secure and open for visitors.