What is WordPress SSL? Troubleshooting the Common WordPress SSL Errors

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WordPress SSL Issues

What is WordPress SSL?

WordPress SSL means Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), a protocol that encrypts the data packets being transmitted from the user’s browser to the website web server.

It does a double job of a secured encrypted communication where any kind of information like passwords, personal data, and payment details will not be seen or altered by others.

A WordPress website with SSL needs an SSL certificate to be added and the server settings modified to use the HTTPS protocol instead of HTTP.

Most Common WordPress SSL Errors and Its Solutions

The most common WordPress SSL issues along with detailed explanations and solutions:

Mixed Content Error

If a webpage was served by way of HTTPS and it has non-secure (HTTP) resources e.g. images, scripts or stylesheets, browsers will present just a mixed content warning to the user.

It happens because the webpage comes through HTTPS securely, and some resources open up insecurely via HTTP.

This is a security concern that may expose the web site to the attacks of malicious-minded individuals who might misuse information in the non-secure resources or tamper with it.

Causes:

  • Hardcore HTTP URLs: A known vulnerability is that the webpage is written with hard-coded URLs that require non-secure resources like images or scripts via HTTP rather than HTTPS.
  • External Resources: While the website is secured with SSL certificates, communications are still intercepted from any external resources that are served over HTTP, coming from third-party scripts, embedded content, etc.
  • Dynamic Content: The content that is produced by WordPress plugins or themes and it doesn’t get loaded securely; there is only HTTP instead of HTTPS.

Effects:

  • Security Risks: Downloading non-secure links over the HTTPS destroys the safety of the web page, by opening the chance to attackers for the resources to be intercepted or modified.
  • Browsing Warnings: Browsers give access to two types of web pages: pages containing mixed content and those having the same frame but different content. warnings issued to users in case of the secured and unsecured content mix.

    The loss of reputation may discourage the people from coming back to the webpage further eating up the trust.

Solution:

Upgrade URLs to HTTPS:

Ensure that the internal links and resources everywhere are enabled to use HTTPS instead of HTTP.

Recommended: HTTP to HTTPS Migration – The Complete Guide

What should be kept in mind is that this would definitely consist of images, scripts, stylesheets and other snippets of content. Automatic URL redirects can be used through a plugin, or you can fix the URLs in the database manually.

Use HTTPS-Compatible Resources:

Make sure that all external resources linked to the website (for example, scripts, content embedded) will be synched on HTTPS too. Ensure the use of HTTPS secure versions of the widgets, plugins, and themes.

Enable HTTPS Everywhere:

Configuration of the website to cause always, by default the https protocol to be turned on. Put in use the server redirects on the server side or the WordPress plugins that can do the automatic redirection from HTTP to HTTPS.

Content Security Policy (CSP):

CSP, Content Security Policy, implement it to identify the various content sources that can load on your webpage. This creates a net effect for avoiding mixed content mistakes, by blocking the loading of non-secure sources.

SSL Certificate not Trusted

When a browser alerts with the warning that the SSL certificate (Secure Sockets Layer certificate) is not trusted or not issued by the trusted CA (Certificate Authority), it means that the browser is unable to verify the authenticity of the SSL certificate that the website is presenting.

Usually this message is revealed when the SSL certificate either belongs to a self-signed CA or to an unknown one.

Recommended: Self-Signed SSL Certificate Vs Trusted CA Certificate

Causes:

  • Self-Signed Certificate: Website’s SSL certificate is unsigned, which indicates that the certificate was issued by the web owners, and not by a third-party authoritative CA.
  • Unrecognized CA: The SSL issuer is a certifying authority that is neither acknowledged nor trusted by the browser.
  • Expired Certificate: The hash has expired, making it unusable and untrustworthy.

Recommended: How to Check TLS/SSL Certificate Expiration Date?

Effects:

  • Browser Warnings: Browsers show warning messages to users telling them that the SSL certificate is not trusted. SSL certificate is a prerequisite for HTTPS. In addition, such issues can provoke unhappiness and disbelief in the website, which may be a reason for users quitting the search.
  • Security Concerns: Users may be afraid to share the private information or access the site of such poor security as well as not being sure about the authenticity of the certificate of an SSL.

Solutions:

Obtain a Certificate from a Trusted CA:

Replace the self-signed or un-authenticated SSL certificate with one that is issued by a Certificate authority (CA) that is reputable. This way, the SSL certificate will show it is trustable.

Install and Configure the SSL Certificate Correctly:

Make sure that the SSL certificate is imperatively installed and configured on the web server. Make sure the Chrome Extension is installed on your browser in accordance with the CA guidelines.

Renew Expired Certificate:

Renew your SSL Certificate before it expires so that there will be a secure channel of communication between the server and user’s browsers.

Verify Certificate Chain:

Make certain that the SSL certificate chain is detailed and correctly configured. Through this, they provision any intermediary certificates supplied by the CA to create the same trust with the root CA.

Update CA Bundle:

Keep the CA bundle on the server always up to date to level up its ability to verify the authenticity of the SSL certificates presented by websites.

SSL Handshake Failed

The SSL handshake is that process that takes place when a browser attempts to set up a secure connection with a web server through https. The shaking hand signifies the sub-process between the browser and server.

Recommended: How to Fix the SSL Handshake Failed Error?

They talk to each other through encryption algorithms, key exchange, and authenticity validation of SSL certificates. If the handshake of SSL fails, it implies that the browser and server have not been configured to give a secure connection, and there could also be some incompatibility issues.

Causes:

  • SSL/TLS Configuration Issues: Improper SSL / TLS configuration of the server can disrupt a handshake and therefore, it cannot be completed successfully. Use our automated essay writer to create unique content for your website! This implies the use of wrong protocol versions, mistake cipher suites or SSL certificate configurations.
  • Incompatible Cipher Suites: If the browser’s and server’s cipher suites are not mutually supported during the handshake process, there could be an issue in negotiating applicable encryption algorithms, resulting in failure of the complete process of key exchange.
  • Expired or Invalid SSL Certificate: The server’s server’s expired or invalid SSL certificate may result in the handshake to fail, as the browser becomes unable to confirm the authorized certificate of the server.
  • Firewall or Network Issues: Firewall, network or security settings may distract the SSL handshake causing unavailable protocol to enable browser and server to converse safely.

Effects:

  • Connection Failure: The secure socket layer handshake error means the connection between the web browser and the server cannot be established due to the failed certificate verification process.
  • Security Concerns: End-users might be apprehensive about the page if the SSL handshake fails. Such neural pinch indicates problems with the SSL/TLS setup or the SSL certificate.

Solutions:

Check SSL/TLS Configuration:

Conduct a review of TLS configuration on the server in order to verify that it supports the right protocol variations, cipher suites, and SSL certificates among others. Establish the acceptable procedures for solving the misconfiguration errors.

Update Server Software:

Always make sure the server software (for instance, Apache, Nginx etc.) is updated so that the latest security patches and modifications can be installed on it. Outdated versions of the server’s software originally could be likely to have SSL/TLS vulnerabilities, which provoke handshake failures most of the time.

Renew or Replace SSL Certificate:

And if the SSL certificate’s expiration or invalidation is witnessed, the CA (Certificate Authority) should be used to renew or replace it with a valid one. Not Missing The Whole SSL chain And Configured Properly

Check Firewall and Network Settings:

Make sure that the firewall rules violation or network problems are not causing the SSL handshake procedure failure. Editing the firewall settings or the network requirements to permit secure communication between the server and browser as it is required is what should be done.

SSL Connection Timeout

A timeout appears with an SSL connection when the browser tries to set up a secure HTTPS connection with a web server, but the connection fails prior to its completion.

This error means that the timing of the SSL handshake process has exceeded the appointed period, so the connection between the client and server could not be created.

Causes:

  • Server Overload: A slow server due to high load or insufficient system resources might result in the SSL handshake process being delayed causing the connection to time out before it is completed.
  • Network Latency: Latency and packet loss of the network can cause the delay in SSL handshake messages transmission between the client and the server that ends up into timeouts.
  • SSL/TLS Configuration Issues: Server-side inefficiencies, like inadequate timeout values or incompatible cipher suites, configured wrongly can cause SSL connection timeouts.
  • Firewall Restrictions: The firewall restrictions or network filtering may interrupt or delay SSL handshaking messages resulting in the connection timeout while the handshake is in progress.

Effects:

  • Connection Failure: The SSL connection timeout renders the secure link to be annihilated between the client and the server, thus, stopping the occurrence of encrypted data transmission.
  • User Experience Impact: The users may encounter the site downtime or page not found due to timeout issues of SSL connections which may result in user dissatisfaction and frustration.

Solutions:

Optimize Server Performance:

Increase server capacity by reducing resource usage, auto-scaling infrastructure to deal with extra traffic, and implementing caching mechanisms to decrease server duty.

Adjust Timeout Settings:

Raise the timeout value on the server to provide more time for the SSL handshake process to finish execution. Adjust timeouts both from server and client side if necessary.

Review SSL/TLS Configuration:

Evaluate and update SSL/TLS configuration setup on the server, conforming to modern browser standards and secure protocols for communication. Check the server to ensure it supports required SSL/TLS versions and cipher suites.

Check Network and Firewall Settings:

Recheck that nobody did set up firewall restrictions or network issues blocking the connection through SSL handshake messages. Set up firewall or define network configurations in such a way that the secure traffic (SSL) can sip through unbothered.

Monitor and Troubleshoot:

Exercise monitoring of network traffic, bottlenecks, and server trouble that can lead to SSL connection timeouts, by using different types of monitoring tools. Parse through server logs and error messages to spot the cause of the problems which hinder the performance.

SSL Redirect Loop

An SSL reducing error can be usually encountered when a website gets trapped in an infinite re-direction between the http and https version of the URL.

Recommended: Open Redirect Attacks & Vulnerabilities: How To Avoid It

This loop infrequently arises as a result of conflicting redirection rules or malformed server settings that either straighten the web site simultaneously between HTTP and HTTPS protocols.

Causes:

  • Conflicting Redirection Rules: Mistakes in redirect rules featuring in server settings or WordPress configuration may be counteractive with each other, so the website simply starts the cycle of redirection and never stops.
  • Inconsistent URL Structure: Such websites with inconsistent URL structures and the links inside can cause the redirection loops that occur if parts of the site are directed to the HTTP links and other parts are directed to the HTTPS links.
  • Mixed Content: Mixed content issues, that spark the consequence of a redirection loop, can occur whenever HTTP resources are loaded on an HTTPS page since the browser will then use secure connections on all resources.
  • Browser Cache: Cached retargeting instructions or cookies sometimes force HTTP/HTTPS redirects while websites displaying the most recent redirection commands may result in a loop of redirection attempts.

Effects:

  • Infinite Redirection Loop: Redirects between HTTP and HTTPS versions in the website URL not stopping, it is unavailable to users.
  • Browser Warnings: The browser might trigger errors, or warnings to the users that the website is in a loop redirect, which is most likely to keep users off the site.

Solutions:

Review Redirection Rules:

Look at the server configuration files (like .htaccess) and WordPress settings to see whether they align and no redirection rule can contradict with each other.

Use Canonical URLs:

Establish yet the canonical URL for the website that will clearly indicate the protocol (HTTP or HTTPS) and domain (www or non-www) to which should be preferred.

It helps to avoid a redirection loop by making navigating through a web page as simple as possible and not forcing the users over and over again to redirect pages in the same topic.

Update Internal Links:

Verify that any internal links within the website point to the preferred means of communication i.e. HTTP or HTTPS and domain-name too. Amend all titles in content, navigation menus, and template files to use proper HTTPS URLs.

Fix Mixed Content Errors:

Remove warnings because of mixed content by upgrading resources (image by example, scripts) to load them securely over HTTPS. Deploy a plugin that will picture all the resource URLs in a secure way in the WordPress database otherwise revert manually to ensure this.

Clear Browser Cache:

Make clear to delete cached redirection paths and cookies in the programmed browser not to be in endless loops. If the redirect loop continues after private browsing mode or a different browser is used, then try shutting down all background tasks for the possibility of different web resources interfering with the website’s functioning.

Mixed SSL Content in Widgets or Plugins:

This error occurs when some elements of the page, like widgets or plugins, load content insecurely on HTTP, while the web page is being secured over HTTPS.

Usually it surfaces as a pop-up warning from the browsers that the website is holding a combination of the secure (HTTPS) and none-specified (HTTP) elements.

Causes:

  • Hardcoded URLs: Hardcoded URLs inside widgets, or plugins may be a common cause of leakage to insecure resources that are available via HTTP mode such as images, scripts, or stylesheets.
  • Third-Party Resources: Many widgets or plugins depend on external libraries such as third-party scripts or embedded content hosted on an HTTP host instead of a secured HTTPS one.
  • Compatibility Issues: It can happen that the old versions of the widgets or plugins won’t completely be equipped with SSL support, which in turn will cause a mixed SSL content error when they are used on the secure websites.

Effects:

  • Security Risks: Opening non-secure content over HTTPS is a dangerous step as the data exchanged in such connections could be easily intercepted or tampered with by cyber criminals, sustaining them a possibility to alter the content and hence the integration of the web-page vital security measures.
  • Mixed Content Warnings: The browser would be warning the users regarding the website containing both the secure and non-secure elements, can thus be dissolving their trust and encourages the users to not to access the site.

Solutions:

Update Widgets or Plugins:

Rename widgets or plugins for the latest version that classes them as HTTPS and receives content from HTTPS settings automatically.

Replace Insecure Resources:

If widgets or plugins will pull resources insecurely via HTTP, express them in HTTPS fashion instead, or replace them with alternative solutions that support HTTPS instead.

Manually Update URLs:

Compared to widgets or plugins that have hardcoded URLs averting towards https instead of http, is manually done. It can be done by the modification of the relevant settings in widget or plugin areas or by the code modification itself.

Use HTTPS-Compatible Versions:

While choosing widgets or plugins for your website, pay attention to selecting HTTPS compatible ones which are mainly developed to operate smoothly on secure websites.

Content Security Policy (CSP):

Enforce a Content Security Policy (CSP) to identify which content sources are legitimate to load on your webpage. This might help avoid mixed SSL content errors which are caused by the loading of non-secure resources.

Expired SSL Certificate:

SSL Certificate Expiration or SSL Certificate Error appears when the issued digital certificate for SSL Protocol has reached its validity period.

SSL certificates normally have a validity period that most of the time is usually one to three years; renewal via the means of a renewal is necessary after the expiration to keep the secure communication running between the server and clients.

Causes:

  • Certificate Expiration: Time to time expiry certification and its renewal are mandatory procedures to continue to have a secure connection. In case of expiration the digital certificate will not be renewed in time.
  • Missed Renewal Notifications: One of the capabilities of CAs is the issuing of renewal notifications prior to the certificate’s validity expiration through sending emails to the registered email address of the certificate owner. If the notification expires or is not responded to, the certificate will expire, even though there is no intention of non-usage.
  • Administrative Oversight: In certain instances, when the administrative agency fails to oversee or lacks knowledge about SSL’s expiry norms, SSL certificate could expire.

Effects:

  • Security Risks: An out-of-date SSL staff makes the security risks real, as it shows that there is no a steady growth of the website security steps. Being vulnerable to interception or any malicious online attempts is a possibility if personal information goes through untrustworthy channels.
  • Browser Warnings: Browsers make a point of displaying warning messages to the users stating that the SSL certificate is past the expiry date. Visitors will not want to access the site even though they may be perfectly willing to, but because of security issues.

Solutions:

Renew SSL Certificate:

The key methodology in case of an expired SSL certificate is to renew it with the Certificate Authority (CA) which has originally issued the certificate.

Usually, renewal is done by verifying domain ownership and buying a new certificate. Proud of yourself? Then share this message with someone you know who needs a weapons of mass destruction fuel mix encouragement right now

Set Up Renewal Reminders:

Create reminders or notifications that managers can be alerted when ssl certificate is expiring. This way certificates are not delayed due to postal scheduling and their renewal date is respected.

Automate Certificate Renewal:

A lot of hosting services are equipped with a mechanism that takes care of certificate renewal automatically once validity reaches its end-time. What about configuring this function to close unintentional lapse of validity.

Update SSL Configuration:

SSL certificate renewal is to be followed immediately by installing and configuring it on the server. Ensure you update your SSL/TLS settings as well as the server configurations. The new certificate should be used.

Check Certificate Chain:

Test to ascertain the SSL certificate chain is complete and correctly configured which also includes any intermediate certificates supplied by the CA. This means that the certificate will be recognized by visitors’ browsers as trusted.

Conclusion

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Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a Cyber-Security Enthusiast who constantly updates herself with new advancements in the Web/Cyber Security niche. Along with theoretical knowledge, she also implements her practical expertise in day-to-day tasks and helps others to protect themselves from threats.