How to Troubleshoot an SSL Connection

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SSL is used by most secure web pages as a means of ensuring data security. SSL connection issues can make using the Internet difficult, but are usually fairly easy to fix. Most issues are simply the result of a misconfiguration that requires only a few seconds to correct. Learning the most common sources of SSL connection issues allows you to troubleshoot and fix them.

Things You'll Need

  • Administrator privileges
  • Access to the router or firewall
  • Perform a virus and malware scan. Many viruses or malware applications will interfere with network traffic and cause issues with SSL connections. Perform a full scan with the antivirus software of your choice before attempting any other fixes.

  • Ensure that your system clock is set to the proper date and time, as well as the proper time zone for your area by checking the "Time and Date" section of the Control Panel. SSL connections require both the client and server time to be configured properly.

  • Configure your browser to accept and verify SSL 3.0 certificates. In Firefox, this option can be found under the "Advanced:Encryption" tab of the Options menu. In Internet Explorer, it is found under the Content tab of the Internet Options menu.

  • Clear the SSL certificate cache. Expired certificates may be erroneously loading from the browser's cache. In Firefox, each SSL certificate must be deleted individually using the "Advanced:Encryption" tab of the Options menu. In Internet Explorer, use the "Clear SSL State" button under the Content tab of the Internet Options menu.

  • Check that the proxy settings are correct. Access the proxy options in Firefox by clicking the "Advanced:Network" tab of the Options menu and opening the Connection Settings menu. In Internet Explorer, click the "LAN Settings" button in the Connections tab of the Internet Options menu. If you don't require a proxy, ensure that the "No proxy" option is selected. If you do require one, ensure that it is configured properly.

  • Verify that the router or firewall is configured properly. The router or firewall used in your home network must be configured with the proper date and time information, as well as set to allow secure connections. Consult the router or firewall documentation for more information on how to access these settings.

Tips & Warnings

  • SSL connections can be finicky, but don't resort to drastic measures like reinstalling the operating system without seeking professional assistance. Most problems can be easily resolved by an expert.
  • Most home users do not require a proxy and, if you don't know what one is, you probably do not require one.
  • If you rent your router from an Internet Service Provider, their tech support is usually available to you; use it if you're not comfortable changing your router configuration.
  • Changing the security settings in your browser or router can lead to unexpected changes in behavior or insecure browsing. If you are not confident in your ability to manage these options properly, consult a professional.

References

  • Photo Credit internet security image by Christopher Hall from Fotolia.com
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