Attention Whitehouse: You Need to Re-Issue Your SSL Certificate
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Attention Whitehouse: You Need to Re-Issue Your SSL Certificate

The new website looks great, but just a heads up, you need to reissue your SSL

The Trump Administration unveiled the new Whitehouse.gov website on Friday. And, ignoring politics for a second, it looks great. It’s been streamlined, cleaned up and it’s going to cost half as much to run as the last one. All good things.

But, as I was perusing the new layout I did notice one, small, minuscule thing you may want to take care of sooner, rather than later: your SSL certificate needs to be re-issued.

Now, you should make it a habit to take a gander at a site’s SSL certificate whenever you arrive for the first time, and before purchases. But, I realize that’s a lot like the dentist reminding you to floss – it’s good hygiene but most of you aren’t going to do it.

Whitehouse SSL certificate

But I do, and the Whitehouse appears to be using a Symantec OV wildcard certificate that just barely misses the cutoff for distrust. You’re going to need to re-issue your SSL certificate.

Why does the Whitehouse need to re-issue its SSL certificate?

That all comes back to the situation that played out between Google/Mozilla and Symantec over the Summer. We covered it in-depth as it happened, but if you haven’t been following, the abridged version is that Google and Mozilla felt Symantec was doing a poor job of overseeing some of its managed partners, third-party organizations that handle validation in other regions of the world.

So the companies got together and arrived at a solution where Symantec’s old roots, and all the certificates that had been signed off of them, would be distrusted in phases as Symantec rebuilt its PKI. In the interim, Symantec sold its CA operation and all associated assets to DigiCert who will be handling validation and issuance on behalf of Symantec.

DigiCert began issuing for Symantec on December 1, 2017. As a result, any Symantec SSL certificate issued after December 1st is free and clear. Unfortunately, the Whitehouse got its certificate issued 9 days too early, on November 21, 2017.

Whitehouse.gov SSL certificate issuance date

There’s no rush, the Whitehouse has until September 13, 2018. As long as the certificate gets re-issued and installed before then, everything will be fine.

If not, well, you’ll be able to add Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox to the list of people and things that distrust the Whitehouse.

This could affect you, too!

While the Whitehouse’s website serves as a very visible example, it’s far from the only site that will need to re-issue its SSL certificate in the coming weeks and months.

We will have a much more in-depth article covering all the details tomorrow, but for now here’s the abridged version:

  • If your website uses an SSL certificate from Symantec, RapidSSL, GeoTrust or Thawte, and it was issued before June 1, 2016, you need to re-issue your certificate before March 15, 2018.
  • If your website uses an SSL certificate from Symantec, RapidSSL, GeoTrust or Thawte, and it was issued after June 1, 2016, but before December 1, 2017, you need to re-issue your certificate before September 13, 2018.

Symantec and DigiCert will be completing all re-issuances for free. You’ll want to give yourself time and not wait until the last minute though. Just some friendly advice.

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