The expiration of a key digital encryption service on Thursday sent major tech companies nationwide scrambling to deal with internet outages that affected millions of online users.
Tech giants — such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Cisco, as well as many smaller tech companies — were still battling with an endless array of issues by the end of the night. The problems were caused by the forced expiration of a popular digital certificate that encrypts and protects the connection between devices and websites on the internet. The certificate is issued by Let’s Encrypt, the largest issuer of such certificates in the world.
At least 2 million people have seen an error message on their phones, computers, or smart gadgets in the past 24 hours detailing some internet connectivity problems due to the certificate issue, according to Scott Helme, an internet security researcher and well-known cybersecurity expert.
“So many people have been affected, even if it’s only the inconvenience of not being able to visit certain websites or some of their apps not working,” Helme said.
“This issue has been going on for many hours, and some companies are only just getting around to fixing it, even big companies with a lot of resources. It’s clearly not going smoothly,” he added.
There was an expectation before the certificate expired, Helme said, that the problem would be limited to gadgets and devices bought before 2017 that use the Let’s Encrypt digital certificate and haven’t updated their software. However, many users faced issues on Thursday despite having the most cutting-edge devices and software on hand.
Dozens of major tech products and services have been significantly affected by the certificate expiration, such as cloud computing services for Amazon, Google, and Microsoft; IT and cloud security services for Cisco; sellers unable to log in on Shopify; games on RocketLeague; and workflows on Monday.com.
This problem has flown under the radar of many major tech manufacturers, including Big Tech companies such as Apple, Google, Sony, and Microsoft — none of which have made announcements to customers about the issues, Helme told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday before the certificate expired.
He added this is one of the first major digital certificates to expire since the advent of the internet in the 1980s. As a result, there is no precedent for solving the problem besides updating the software on devices and tech IT teams troubleshooting for each client or customer.
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Original Author: Nihal Krishan