At SEO Design Chicago, we work with websites all day every day. So we know all about every kind of website error there is, from 404 errors to SSL certificate errors. Today, we’re going to help you fix the “your connection is not private” error. There are several ways to fix this error and ways to prevent it from occurring in the future.
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The “Your Connection is Not Private” Error
The “your connection is not private” error only occurs on websites that are running over HTTPS, or websites that should be running over HTTPS. When you visit a website, your web browser sends a request to the server where the site is hosted. Then, the browser validates the certificates installed on the website to make sure it is up to the latest privacy standards. If the browser finds that the certificate isn’t valid, it automatically attempts to stop you from visiting the site. This feature is built into web browsers to protect users. This is when you will receive the error “your message is not private.”
Variations of “Your Connection is Not Private”
There are a few different variations of this error that depend on which browser you’re using, which operating system, and even how the certificates are configured on the servers. Though the error might vary, the steps to troubleshoot the error remain the same.
Google Chrome “Your Connection is Not Private”
On the Google Chrome browser, if there is an issue validating the certificate, you will see the “your connection is not private” error. This will be accompanied by an error code message that will try to more specifically explain the issue.
Mozilla Firefox “Your Connection is Not Secure”
If you are using Mozilla Firefox, you will see the “your connection is not secure” error instead. Similarly to Chrome, it will be accompanied by an error code message that helps you pinpoint the issue.
Microsoft Edge “Your Connection Isn’t Private”
In Microsoft Edge, the error appears as “your connection isn’t private.” It will also be accompanied by an error code message.
Safari “Your Connection is Not Private”
In Safari, you will see the error as “your connection is not private.”
How to Fix the “Your Connection is Not Private” Error
There are many reasons why you might receive the “Your connection is not private” error. Typically, it originates from either a client-side issue, like your browser, computer, or operating system, or there is a problem with the security certificate on the website. Here are some ways to fix the issue and protect your browsing data.
Try Reloading the Page
The first thing to try when you encounter a “your connection is not private” message is to simply reload the page. First close and reopen your browser, and try loading the page again. Perhaps the website owner is currently reissuing their SSL certificate, or something was out of whack somewhere!
Manually Proceed (Unsafe)
A second option is to manually proceed. However, we typically do not recommend taking this step. Nothing will be encrypted if you proceed. Especially if you are going to be entering a login or payment information, do not try this step. It’s possible you’re seeing this message because someone is trying to trick you or steal your information. Or, it’s possible the website has been compromised and there is a malicious redirection. Especially if you are in public, you should never try to bypass this screen.
If you do still want to proceed for some reason, typically there is a “Proceed to domain.com” link you can click at the bottom of the error screen. However, depending on the browser, it might be hidden under an “Advanced” option.
Check Where You Are
Sometimes, you might be getting a “your connection is not private” error, it’s because of your location. For example, cafes and airport WiFi networks are some of the most common places to receive this error. Their internet connections might not be as secure. Many of these places are not running their networks over HTTPS, or, if they are, sometimes they are not configured correctly. This error typically pertains to the portal screen where you accept the terms and agreement to sign in. If you try to connect to an HTTPS site before accepting the portal terms, you might get this error. Here are some ways around it:
- Connect to the wifi at your location.
- Browse to a non-HTTPS website, like www.weather.com.
- The sign-in page will open. Accept the terms and log in. Once you are connected, then try checking out sites that run over HTTPS.
(Another tip: if you can’t find the sign-in page, try typing 188.8.131.52 into your browser.)
If you are using public WiFi, a VPN can help hide your traffic and protect your information.
Check Your Clock
Another reason you might get the “your connection is not private” error is because your computer’s clock is inaccurate. Browsers rely on your clock to be synced up correctly in order to verify the SSL certificate. Especially if you just purchased a new computer, this might be the issue. Clocks don’t always sync up automatically after your first login. This issue can also occur on mobile devices. Simply update the date and time on your computer, and you should be good to go!
Use Incognito Mode
The next step will be to clear your browser cache, but first, let’s check and see if that’s the problem by opening an incognito window. Or, try using another browser and see if you still get the same error. (Note: If you are using Mozilla Firefox, Incognito mode is referred to as “New private window.” In Microsoft Edge, it’s called “New InPrivate Window.”)
Clear Browser Cache and Cookies
If you think the problem might be with your browser, clearing your browser cache is the next step.
Clear the SSL State on Your Computer
Another overlooked way of avoiding this error is to clear the SSL state on your computer.
How to Clear the SSL State in Chrome on Windows:
- Click the Google Chrome – Settings icon, then click Settings.
- Select “Show advanced settings.”
- Under Network, click Change proxy settings. This will bring up the Internet Properties dialog box.
- Click the Content tab.
- Select “Clear SSL State,” then click OK.
- Restart Chrome.
If you are on a Mac, you can delete your SSL certificate.
Change DNS Servers
Next, you can try changing your DNS servers. Sometimes the error occurs on Google’s Public DNS or Cloudflare’s DNS. You can remove these and switch back to your ISP’s DNS servers, which can sometimes fix the error.
To change DNS servers on Windows, head to your network connection properties and choose “Obtain DNS Server Address Automatically.” If you have added Google’s Public DNS or Cloudflare’s DNS to your router, you will also have to remove it from there, too.
Temporarily Disable VPN and Antivirus
If you have VPNs or antivirus software, they can sometimes block certain SSL certificates. If you have either of these running, try temporarily disabling or closing them or turning off their “SSL Scan” feature to see if it fixes the error.
Check if the Certificate Has Expired
SSL certificates expire without the knowledge of the company or website owner all the time. This might happen for a few reasons. Perhaps the website owner doesn’t have auto-renew enabled with the domain registrar or their SSL certificate provider. Or, auto-renew is enabled, but the payment failed because the owner forgot to update their payment method. Possibly, the website owner uses a free Let’s Encrypt certificate, which expires every 90 days.
How to Check if an SSL Certificate is Expired
You can check an SSL certificate’s expiration date by opening Chrome DevTools on their site. Simply click on the security tab, then click “View certificate.” The “Valid from” dates will show in the certificate information. Or, if you’re in Chrome, click on the padlock in the address bar, then click on “Certificate.”
Check Subject Alternative Domain
Every certificate has a Subject Alternative Name, which includes all the domain name variations for which the certificate is issued to and valid for. If you’re seeing an error code, the case might be that the certificate is not registered properly on both variations of the domain. However, this doesn’t happen frequently anymore because sites typically have HTTPS redirects in place. This could also happen if you recently changed domain names.
Is the Certificate SHA-1?
SHA-1 is a cryptographic hash algorithm that used to be used commonly by SSL certificates. However, the algorithm has shown signs of weaknesses and is not supported in any current browsers. If a website is still using a SHA-1 SSL certificate, you will get the “your connection is not private” error. Most browsers removed support for SHA-1 in early 2017.
Is the Certificate Issued by Symantec?
Some issues came to light in 2017 regarding how Symantec was issuing certificates. Basically, they did not comply with the industry standards CA/browser forum baseline requirements. The company had been aware of the issue for some time. As a result, web browsers made the decision to no longer support certificates issued by Symantec. If a website is still using a Symantec certificate, you might receive a “your connection is not private” error.
Run an SSL Server Test
If you’re not positive that everything is set up correctly on your website or someone else’s, you can try running an SSL server test. You can do so using Qualys SSL Labs’ free SSL check tool. Just input your domain into the “Hostname” field and click on “Submit.” If you want, you can choose the option to hide public results. The scan will take a couple minutes but it will show you all the details of a website’s SSL/TLS configuration.
Update Your Operating System
The problem might be on the part of your operating system. If your operating system falls out of date with newer technologies, then specific components in the newest SSL certs might stop working. If you haven’t updated your OS in some time, make sure to do so as soon as possible and that might fix the error.
Restart Your Computer
If all else fails, try restarting your computer or even your router. Rebooting can clear out some of your temporary cache and fix any hiccups. While this might be an annoying step to take, particularly if you have hundreds of tabs or applications open, it can sometimes fix the problem.
Disable Chrome Checking SSL Certificates
You can disable Chrome checking for SSL certificates, but this is only a step you should take for testing and development purposes. Do not take this step if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
Ask for Help
If you are still seeing the “your connection is not private” error, don’t be afraid to ask for help! The web development experts at SEO Design Chicago can help you fix your website. Contact us today!
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