So you’ve converted your website to “https”, as all the experts have been recommending. Excellent. But almost inevitably, there’s more to it than that. The ‘SSL Certificate’ you’ve bought doesn’t last for ever: like your domain name, it has to be renewed periodically, and that’s your responsibility. If you don’t renew it, visitors to your website will be greeted with a warning message that’ll send nearly all of them away. You do not want that.
There are good reasons for SSL certificates having a limited lifespan. Things on the internet change frequently, and it’s important that information on the authenticity of a website is up to date. Originally the certificates could last for 5 years, but now it’s down to 2.
Here’s what you need to do. First of all, make sure you know who set up the SSL certificate, where and how. If it was an external organisation, such as a website design company, find out how they did it, and get sufficient details so that you can do it yourself if necessary. External agencies come and go. Store this information alongside the information you already have saved on how to access your website’s server, how to renew your domain hosting, and how to renew your domain name. Make sure this is all in house.
Now, it’s highly likely that the SSL certificate provider will have a renewal reminder system, so find out where the reminder emails are sent. Best practice is always to have them sent to a neutral, departmental email such as ‘marketing@…’ or ‘admin@…’ Again, staff come and go. If there’s no renewal reminder set up, you may have to resort to diary methods. Or there are some third-party services like this, but these should only be used as a backup.
How do you find out how long there is left until the certificate expires? The easiest way is through your browser. If there’s a padlock showing in the address bar, you should be able to click on this and then see the certificate details. But don’t just take a look now, feel happy that renewal isn’t for another year, and promptly forget the issue. Make sure you’ll get a reminder.