SOCRadar® Cyber Intelligence Inc. | How to Monitor Your SSL Certificates Expiration Easily and Why


Jul 26, 2021
6 Mins Read

How to Monitor Your SSL Certificates Expiration Easily and Why

SSL is a secure socket layer certificate, a small data file that establishes a secure connection between a web page and a browser. HTTPS websites use SSL certificates to secure the connection between the user’s browser and the website.

To establish an HTTPS connection to a domain, the SSL certificate must match the domain and browser URL. We monitor the certificate chain to ensure that the browser trusts it. If you click on it, you will see a clear report of all changes.

SSL certificates encrypt the data that flows between a website and the certificate holder. They are often used in e-commerce to confirm the identity of clients and servers. Similar to a driver’s license, which needs to be renewed periodically to obtain accurate and up-to-date information about your identity, an SSL certificate for its validity period follows the same guidelines. SSL certificates contain an expiration date that most applications check against the contents of the certificate. Before expiration, make sure that the information on your certificate is accurate and prove your validity as a trustworthy owner of the domain.

Repairing expired certificates is critical to protecting your website from theft and damage. Due to the important role that SSL certificates play in maintaining security, it is useful to implement some sort of asset management tool to ensure that certificates are kept current and active. A central part of the certification monitoring process is to support the renewal of certificates in order not to lose the security of the certification.

Asset management tools solve the SSL monitoring conundrum by monitoring web performance issues and the availability of web services to ensure that connections are secure and visitors and customers can easily access web services. Such tools also include alarm systems to help alert users to potential vulnerabilities before they become a realized problem.

Avoid problematic website failures and damage to the reputation of the brand due to unplanned expiry of the SSL certificate. Service failures due to an unplanned certificate expiration can have a negative impact on the availability of services (SLA) and brand confidence. For this reason, it is important to implement an SSL certificate monitoring solution for your website.

Some organizations make plans and write down their expiry date of the certificate on a whiteboard. But most of the time, this is not a very effective way.

It is not just SMEs that forget renewing SSL certificates. On 23th of May, 2021, the Microsoft Exchange admin portal was inaccessible from some browsers after Microsoft forgot to renew the SSL certificate for the website. Starting at 8 AM EST, Microsoft Exchange admins who attempted to access the admin portal at suddenly found that their browsers were issuing warnings that the connection was not private due to an expired SSL certificate. Depending on the browser, users were blocked from accessing the site as a security precaution or shown an alert that the data may not be secure. For example, Google Chrome stopped from accessing the site altogether, while Firefox warned about the insecure connection.

As a site administrator, you may not have the knowledge or experience to manually install SSL certificates, which can lead to connection errors. While companies are struggling with the loss of allowances, few companies are announcing when they will occur. Epic Games, the makers of fan favorites such as Fortnite, Rocket League and House Party, recently suffered a massive outage due to expired SSL certificates. According to the company; although it is embarrassing that the certificate has expired, they felt it was important to share their story in the hope that others would learn our lessons and improve their systems.

If you or your organization use certificate monitoring, this is a good reminder to find gaps in the system. In this way, the website remains healthy and functions under optimal conditions. For example, you can set up simple or robust monitoring tasks. If this seems too hackneyed, you may have the right machines to run cron tasks, but if you are looking for something more than certificate flow checking, it may be useful to look at self-hosted SaaS services for SSL monitoring.

What Needs to be Done?

SSL is essential for safeguarding your web applications and providing trust. It gives privacy, security and data integrity for both your websites and your users’ personal information. SOCRadar provides an “SSL Overview Report” by discovering and classifying your SSL certificates based on certification authorities, cipher suites, signature algorithms and lets you track any malicious changes, expiry or vulnerabilities to mitigate the impact of a possible cyber-attack.

With SOCRadar SSL Monitoring, you can monitor your website and ensure that your SSL certificate does not expire before you know it. SOCRadar SSL Monitoring is a simple tool which allows you to monitor the expiration of certificates. It provides detailed information about certificates. In SOCRadar, notifications are sent to you every 1, 7, 15, 30 and 60 days that the certificate has expired. As part of its uptime monitor package, SOCRadar also provides SSL certificate monitoring which allows you to specify the number of days you will receive notification after your certificate expires. With SSL certificates it can search for malware, SEO spam, block status, DNS availability monitoring, etc. If the service detects changes to your SSL certificate, it sends you a notification so that you can take the necessary action.

What SOCRadar Can Do for You?

● Discover forgotten certificates: Continuously discover, grade and monitor all of your certificates.

● Detect rogue certificates globally: Get alerted when a certificate is issued without your knowledge.

● Enhance threat hunting: Detects malware C&C infrastructure through massive CT logs processing.

● Multi-port scanning: Reduce the risk of forgotten SSL/TLS certificates on multiple ports.

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  • Discover your unknown hacker-exposed assets
  • Check if your IP addresses tagged as malicious
  • Monitor your domain name on hacked websites and phishing databases
  • Get notified when a critical zero-day vulnerability is disclosed

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