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Beware of ‘Untrusted Certificate’ Websites

Image: MS Outlook 2010 untrusted certificate warning

If you get an ‘Untrusted Certificate’ pop-up on your computer or mobile device, it’s because your internet browser doesn’t know if the website you’re about to access is authentic or fake.

Websites that start with “https” (the “s” means secure) safeguard information like passwords or credit card numbers by encrypting them. Encryption turns data into unreadable code and is used by banks and online merchants to secure websites and financial transactions. A once-secure website can become untrusted if their digital certificate, a code given to websites by an outside licensing authority, is out-of-date. If a certificate is invalid for any reason then the site’s identity can’t be verified–meaning it’s “untrusted.” While the website is most likely the issue, it could be your PC or mobile device. Check your device’s calendar setting. If your device’s date setting is correct, then the website could be a malicious fake site set up to steal personal information.

A great way to learn how to stay safe online is to take Cyber Self-Defense, a free workshop offered by UFIT. The next Cyber Self-Defense workshop is Friday, August 26, in Hub 221. Register for the workshop online.