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Security Certificates

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010 by | Filed Under: Security Help, Using The Internet

Ted asks:

I have a really weird problem. This afternoon I went to log in to my Facebook account and I got this warning that it was a bad website. I started going to other sites and got the same thing. Yesterday my computer was fine, and today I am getting “There is a problem with this website’s security certificate”. What’s going on?!

Aren’t computers a blast, Ted? They work, they don’t work…gotta love it.


I know what you’re talking about; my aunt had the same thing happen to her. The problem was listed in the first line (under the warning):


I checked her clock.

Lo and behold, the time was wrong. I set the clock to the correct time, and voila! No more warnings. How do you change the clock and why does the time even matter if I just want to go to a web site? Okay – let’s change the clock first and then I’ll tell you why the correct time matters – especially to the web.

To change your clock to the correct time (this example is for Vista, but all Windows versions are pretty much the same):


A menu will pop up. Left-click on Adjust Date/Time.


Now a box with your clock in it will pop up. This is the Date and Time box. Left-click on Change date and time.


After you left-click on Change Date and time, another box will pop up. (Note: This is the Date and Time Settings box.) You can change time two different ways (see below).


Note: You can only adjust one number at a time; i.e. the hour number, the minute number, or the second’s number, or morning and afternoon (AM and PM).


So now we have the time set right. Why does this matter?

The reason why my aunt’s computer kept getting those Security Certificate warnings was because her computer’s time was set waaaay back to the Civil War (just kidding, but it was a long time ago). Her browser was just alerting you to the fact that the website she was trying to access that didn’t have a valid certificate. When this happens it puts up a warning because the website may be a security risk.

There are all kinds of reasons that certificate warnings will pop up; for more information on what having a valid security certificate means, click here.

Hope this helped, Ted, and thanks for writing!

~ Lori Cline

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