SSL certificates provide encryption to website pages when sensitive data is involved. Any sensitive data such as credit cards, social security numbers, classified information, or important passwords needs to be encrypted when processed in a form, or when it is displayed on a page. This prevents any intruders from grabbing the page content during its transmission.
Many sites are dependent on SSL certificates. For example, shopping card websites where credit card information is entered, require SSL for their functionality. The website will usually set to route the SSL pages on the login or account pages. Some websites are entirely SSL-based and will automatically route to an SSL version.
If an SSL certificate expires, and the website is set to automatically route to an encrypted SSL page, the browser will load an SSL warning page. This will effectively cripple the website by the browser blocking it from loading. When this happens, the first step to take is to issue a new SSL certificate and get it installed as soon as possible. The hosting company often takes care of this process, and they should be contacted immediately when this happens. If a third-party manages the SSL certificate, the person responsible for this should be contacted to renew the certificate and install a new one.
Some hosting companies will provide an email notification that the SSL is expiring, and action should be taken to renew it. These notifications should be followed through so that action can be taken to prevent the site from going down. However, many hosting companies do not provide this service, so it’s imperative to make a note when the SSL certificate will expire and create a reminder to renew the SSL prior to the expiration. This will prevent the website from going down due to an SSL issue.