While browsing the internet, you may come across a disturbing message from Google Chrome. This message will say that “your connection is not private” and that hackers can monitor what you are doing. While it sounds scary at first, it doesn’t mean you’re about to be hacked! So what does this mean and what should you do when you see it?
What does “Your connection is not private” mean?
When this error message appears, it means that Google Chrome expected the connection to be private; however, for some reason this was not the case. This error occurs because there is a problem with the website certificate.
By default, websites use the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to communicate with your computer. This works well when you are browsing the web normally, but it is not ideal for making secure transactions. This is because HTTP is not encrypted, so a hacker can view the data and steal information from it.
To resolve snooping, secure websites use HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). This encrypts the communications between you and the website so that hackers cannot see your personal information.
Since HTTPS is used to identify legitimate businesses, the business must request a certificate to use HTTPS. For example, Bank of America has HTTPS because they requested a certificate for their business, and it was accepted. If a scammer tries to create a fake Bank of America website, they need an HTTPS certificate to look genuine. If they request it, the issuing body will refuse them because the scammer’s website is bogus.
You can view a website certificate by clicking on the padlock next to the website URL and then clicking “Certificate.”
This is all well and good, but if there is a problem with the certificate, it means the website can no longer use HTTPS. That’s why Chrome warns you that the connection is not private; it should be, but something went wrong.
What can go wrong with certificates?
Now that we know why the error appears, we need to look at what is triggering it. A certificate becomes invalid in several ways, prompting Chrome to show you this method.
First, the website may be legitimate, but its certificate no longer exists. This may be due to its expiration, as certificates need to be renewed from time to time. If the website host misbehaves, the issuing organization can revoke the certificate, causing the same error.
It could also be because hackers meddle with the operation of the certificate. For example, they can set up a proxy server between you and your destination. When you log in, the proxy server tries to forge fake certificates so that they can read your HTTPS data. Google Chrome will capture this trick and warn you that a hacker tampered with the certificate during the login process.
You can see some of these errors using BadSSL. The website itself is safe, but they have tests to make sure your browser can defend against online threats. At the top left, you can test different certificate issues and see these errors for yourself.
How to fix the “Your connection is not private” error
As you might expect, this issue might not be something you can fix on your end. However, there is a risk that there was a problem during the login process. So there are a few things worth trying to make sure it’s not you.
First, try to refresh the web page. Sometimes the data gets a bit scrambled while browsing and a legitimate certificate is flagged as suspicious. A refresh or two would clear things up if that happened.
Try the website again in incognito mode
Something is wrong with your computer’s cache. When this happens, it creates a certificate conflict that prompts Chrome to notify you of the problem.
To quickly check if the cache is the issue, try the website in incognito mode. This prevents your browser from creating or using cache files. If the problem goes away, clear Chrome’s cache and try again.
Check your system clock again
Remember when we said certificates are valid for a certain period of time? If your system clock is, for some reason, before the start date or after the end date of the certificate, it will produce a warning. This happens because the server thinks you are connecting before the certificate becomes valid or after it expires.
Check again to make sure your clock shows the current time. If not, change it so that it is. Some major operating systems allow you to set up a clock for automatic updating over the internet, so it’s worth a try if your clock gets weird every now and then.
Leave all public networks you are connected to
If you are using a public network when you see this error message, it could mean that attackers are operating there. As such, it is a good idea to leave the network and use another method. For example, you can use your mobile data by turning your phone into an access point or by using tethering.
Use caution and continue
If all else fails, you can still browse the website. To do this, click on the “Advanced” button, then on the “Continue to” link followed by the URL of the website.
However, this error appeared for a reason; the data you are about to send to the server is not secure. Never enter personal or confidential information on a website with a faulty HTTPS certificate.
Shedding light on HTTPS errors
When you see a “Your connection is not private” error in Google Chrome, it may trigger an alarm in your head. Fortunately, most of the time you are not under attack. For the rare times you are in, simply closing the webpage will prevent hackers from getting your information.
On the other hand, if you see the “Err_Connection_Reset” in Google Chrome, this link will show you how to fix it.
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