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The Shutdown Is Breaking Government Websites, One by One


screenshot: site security certificate is not trusted

As the government shutdown drags on, a rising number of federal websites are falling into disrepair — making it harder for Americans to access online services and needlessly undermining their faith in the Internet's security, experts warn.

In the past week, the number of outdated Web security certificates held by U.S. government agencies has increased from about 80 to more than 130, according to Netcraft, an Internet security firm.

Various online pages run by the White House, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Archives, and the Department of Agriculture appear to be affected by the latest round of expirations, Netcraft says.

The expired certificates mean that most modern Web browsers, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, will refuse to display the pages on request—instead showing a warning message that suggests the sites may have been compromised by hackers.

Just as in the private sector, staffers at government agencies are responsible for periodically renewing their sites's Web certificates, which help to guarantee a secure connection between an Internet user and a site's server. The certificates are designed to expire to prevent a malicious actor from obtaining them and then impersonating a legitimate site. It is becoming apparent that for a growing number of sites, there appear to be no personnel at work to handle manual renewals.

From The Washington Post
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