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how to fix the err ssl server cert bad format error

While connecting to a web server, browsers always verify the SSL certificate. If it detects something unusual or against the CA/B standards, an error is encountered and displayed on the screen. One such error is ERR_SSL_SERVER_CERT_BAD_FORMAT.

Until a user doesn’t resolve this error, it’s not possible to access the website resources. So, you should learn how to fix this issue by undergoing the solution provided here.

Prerequisites To Understand

Before you learn about the fixation of this error, you must understand the following terms and concepts associated with SSL/TLS certificate.

  • SSL/TLS certificates are used to implement HTTPS for a website.
  • Two types of certificates are used – Self-signed and CA-assigned certificates.
  • CA is a Certificate Authority that validates businesses and issues SSL certificates.
  • Self-signed certificates don’t require you to undergo validation and are only used for testing purposes. In addition, browsers don’t categorize self-signed certificates as legit.
  • CA-assigned certificates, such as Comodo and Sectigo SSL certificates, are considered legitimate by the browsers.
  • As per CA/B standards, every business should use a validated certificate for their website.

Causes of this Error

Now, you understand the SSL fundamentals. So, let’s see when you see the ERR_SSL_SERVER_CERT_BAD_FORMAT error.

This error occurs when a website uses a self-signed certificate instead of one issued by a certificate authority. When a browser tries to create a connection with a website, the SSL is validated, and the certificate authority is checked.

However, if the browser doesn’t identify the CA on the SSL certificate, the above-mentioned error is shown. There are only a few authorities worldwide, so it’s an easy task to confirm whether a certificate is self-signed or issued by a trusted Certificate Authority (CA)

The Approaches To Fix the Error

There are several approaches for fixing this error, Let us look carefully at each of these approaches.

Fix #1: Use a CA-issued SSL Certificate

It’s the primary method to remove this error from the end user’s screen. However, only the website owner can perform this method. Following are some of the top Certificate Authorities(CAs), that you may consider:

  • Comodo
  • Sectigo
  • Certera
  • DigiCert
  • Thawte
  • Symantec
  • GeoTrust

In addition, you should always purchase from the registered authority for a quality guarantee. Once you start using an authentic SSL certificate, the error will be eliminated.

Fix #2: Modify the Internet Options

Follow the below procedure to solve the error:

Step 1: Use the taskbar to search and open “Internet Options”

Step 2: Once the Internet Options window appears, navigate to the Security tab >> Trusted Sites >> Sites.

internet options window

Step 3: As displayed in the snippet, input the URL of the website for which you see the error (ERR_SSL_SERVER_CERT_BAD_FORMAT). Then, click on Add >> Close.

Trusted Sites

Step 4: Go back to the browser and try to open the website for which you were seeing the error.

Step 5: If you see any message with the option “Accept risk and Continue,” click on it.

Now, that error will be removed, enabling you to use the website.

Fix #3: Modify Google Chrome Settings

Execute this fix per the below steps:

Step 1: Open the browser and access its settings using the three dots available in the right corner.

Browser Window

Step 2: From the provided options in the left panel, go to “System.”

System Tab

Step 3: From the options under the system, choose “Open your computer’s proxy settings.”

Proxy Settings Tab

Step 4: Open the “Network and Sharing Center” provided under network settings.

Network and Sharing Center

Step 5: From the Network and Sharing Center window, click on “Internet Options” at the bottom.

Internet Options

Step 6: Now, you can view the same screen as mentioned in Fix #2. In the internet properties, add the URL and the error will be removed.

In addition to these primary fixtures, there are also some secondary solutions to SSL errors, such as:

Solution #1: Date and Time Modification

 If your system used an incorrect date and time, it can also be a cause for such SSL errors. You should navigate to the system settings and choose the automatic data and time option. As a result, your computer will correct the information, leading to the removal of SSL errors caused by it.

You can easily access the date and time settings from the system settings, as demonstrated.

Date and Time Window

Solution #2: SSL State Cache Clearing

To clear the SSL cache, you should open the Run dialog box using the Windows + R combination. Further, type “inetcpl.cpl” and click on OK.

Run Window

It will again open the Internet Option. But this time, you need to go to the “Content” tab. And under it, click on “Clear SSL State.”

Clear SSL Cache

Lastly, restart the Chrome browser, and it’s done.

Solution #3: Browser Data Clearing

Sometimes, clearing browsing data also helps with removing SSL errors. For this, undergo the steps as defined.

Step 1: Open the browser and use Ctrl + H combination to open history information.

Step 2: From the panel provided on the left, click on the “Clear Browsing Data” option.

Step 3: Choose the data to be deleted as the below snippet.

Clear Browsing Data

Step 4: Restart the browser and access the site you want.

Solution #4: Temporary Error Removal

For temporary error removal, open your Chrome browser and then go to Properties >> Shortcut. Further, copy the “-ignore-certificate-errors” to the Target input field.

Google Chrome Properties

Click on the Apply button. Following and restart the browser.

Solution #5: Update Chrome Browser

If your browser is not updated, it can show your SSL errors. So, you should always ensure that an updated browser version is being used.

To update the Chrome browser, use the three dots, and under them, Help >> About Google Chrome.

Update Chrome Browser

Further, you will see a new page showing the current version and available updates, if any. If there’s any pending update, install it to remove errors.

Google Chrome Update

Solution #6: Update Windows OS

To remove the SSL error, you can try to update your Windows operating system using the following steps:

Step 1: Use the Windows + I key combination to access system settings.

Step 2: Choose the “Update & Security” option.

Step 3: Click the “Check for updates”. It will tell you about the available updates, if any.

Check For Updates

Step 4: if there’s any pending update, install it and then try to open the website.

Concluding Up

The ERR_SSL_SERVER_CERT_BAD_FORMAT error is caused when a website configures a self-signed SSL certificate. There are several approaches that can be applied at the user’s end to solve this issue.

But, it’s always recommended that the site owner use an SSL certificate from a CA or authorized vendor such as CheapSSLWeb, a reliable source to obtain trusted CA-based SSL certificates at highly affordable pricing starting at just $3.99/year.

However, by using any of these above-mentioned resolutions you will surely resolve this SSL error.

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.

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