How to Fix SSL Handshake Failed Error

  1. What does SSL/TLS mean?
  2. How does SSL/TLS handshake operate?
  3. How to fix TLS handshake failed errors?
  4. Possible causes of SSL handshake failure & their resolutions
  5. SSL Certificate Creation

Don’t panic if you face an SSL handshake failed error. The Wall Street Journal reports that the global business bans handshakes in business etiquette only. It is called an “unhygienic medieval tradition,” because of the coronavirus outbreak.

While, successful SSL/ TLS handshake guarantees safety of users’ data on the internet. Thus, let’s go over what the reasons for SSL handshake failure are and how you can fix this issue.

How to fix SSL handshake failed errors.

What does SSL/TLS mean?

SSL abbreviation is Secure Sockets Layer. It is an earlier version of the protocol for secure data transmission. There were several versions of SSL (1.0, 2.0, 3.0) which were constantly improved. TLS is Transport Layer Security. It is based on the latest SSL 3.0 specification and has its own sequence of new protocols (1.0, 1.1, 1.2). The earliest versions were slower in operation. These protocols operate in the same way and do not differ radically. Different versions can be used simultaneously and even on the same server.

How does SSL/TLS handshake operate?

Handshake SSL/TLS is a process when a client and a server try to agree with each other and start their communication through an encrypted SSL/TLS tunnel for data security. Meeting each other for the first time a client and a server generate a common secret key using encryption. When a secure connection is established a browser transforms a card number into a random symbol set and only afterwards sends it to the server. The receiving party encrypts the message with the help of a special key, which is kept on the server.

If cyber criminals can intercept the information, they will receive a set of symbols only and won’t understand anything. SSL/ TLS handshake also helps to establish the authenticity of a client and a server. For instance, a client can be sure that a server that renders information about a bank account is really a bank server. This technology is not used for bank transactions only. The purpose of SSL/ TLS handshake is to protect privacy and information confidentiality on the internet.

How to fix TLS handshake failed errors?

To start data exchange a client and a server need to agree on the connection parameters such as a version of the used protocol, verify certificates validity, a method of transferring the data etc. This is a complicated and multi-level process. Therefore, the SSL/ TLS handshake failed when there was a failure on one of its levels.

If you ask how to fix TLS handshake failed error, then it is necessary to identify its exact causes and these issues can take place as from the server side, so at the end of the client server.

Possible causes of SSL handshake failure & their resolutions

Troubleshooting for website owners

1. Protocol mismatch

SSL and TLS protocol versions are being constantly improved to eliminate their most vulnerable segments in order to ensure the ultimate data protection. Although, the outdated versions are still in use. These versions operate with vulnerable cipher suites and short keys. As a rule, this issue is actual for mobile apps or software, which was not updated in time.

The reason for the TLS/ SSL handshake error may be that a client and a server do support the protocol version of each other. It is better to use the recent version and in most cases the issue of outdated protocol is at the end of a client server. If that’s the case, then a server is not able to solve this issue.

2. Cipher mismatch

At the beginning of SSL handshake, a server and a client need to find common grounds. For these purposes they use a cipher suite and identify secure connection parameters. At the start of each SSL/TLS handshake a client server provides a list of available cipher suites, so that the server would choose the most secure algorithms, which are supported by the server and corresponds to its demands. If a cipher match is not found, you may face a TLS/ SSL handshake failed error.

This is a more significant cause than a protocol mismatch. In different fields various encryption standards are used and there are own approved demands for banks or certain industries. As a rule, they are compatible and support the most of ciphers, to avoid errors. Though, there are issues sometimes. In this case, the only solution will be to decrease the security level, then you need to know that your connection will be more vulnerable.

3. Incorrect SSL/ TLS certificate

There can be an incorrect host name in your certificate, and you’ll receive TLS handshake failure. Thus, you need to check if cipher suites match the correct host name and reissue the certificate if necessary.

4. Man in the middle

Yes, an SSL/ TLS handshake failed error can take place when there is a cyber-attack, and a hacker tries to steal your data. Although, there are a lot of variants of “Man in the middle” such as an API, which intercept traffic to load balancing or other purposes. Thus, you need to point out what can be identified as a MITM.

You can also clear your SSL status, lower your security status or disable your antivirus system, but I do not think it’s a reasonable solution.

Troubleshooting for clients

1. Update or change your browser

As a rule, all browsers update TLS protocol, but users often utilize the outdated version of a browser. According to the established requirements all websites which use credit cards data have to refuse from older versions. Four major browser manufacturers (Apple, Google, Firefox, Microsoft) claimed that they will get rid of outdated versions of SSL protocol in 2020.

On the other hand, there can be a browser error as it may have misconfigured setup. In this case all you can do is just to try another one, or even several browsers one by one.

2. If you use Chrome, then try to turn off the QUICK protocol

In the search line of Google Chrome put in chrome://flags. Then type QUIC in the search field. You have to find “experimental QUICK protocol”. Put a checkbox to turn it off to fix a TLS error.

3. Try to deactivate your extensions

As your plugins may cause SSL handshake failed errors, try to turn them off one by one.

4. Change WiFi connection

A publicly accessible WiFi zone can be considered as unsecure and cause SSL/ TLS handshake failure error.

5. Clear cache and cookies

If you have done some previous steps and there is no a result, so that try to clear cache and cookies

6. Set the correct time zone, date and time on your computer

A server reads the data of a certificate and verifies if they are valid. It can identify the certificate as invalid if the time set on your computer is incorrect and your computer shows a TLS error.

7. An expired certificate can cause the SSL handshake failed error

You need to monitor the expiration date of your SSL certificate. Keep in mind that the average validity term of these certificates is 12 months.

If nothing of the above-mentioned steps helped you need to contact the website support.

SSL Certificate Creation

SSL Certificate Creation.

Buying a reliable SSL Certificate will help you to avoid a lot of issues with an SSL handshake. SSL certificates differ in security level and technical possibilities. We have chosen the SSL Certificate from Comodo, because it confirmed:

  • Full compatibility with all browsers
  • High data safety level
  • High trust level
  • High level protection from cyber attacks
  • Visual sign Comodo SSL creates a trusty atmosphere and enhances the reputation of the brand.

In all Chrome versions, users see the notion “Connection is not secure”, visiting websites without https protocol. Having installed an SSL Certificate on your website users will see a green lock. This prestigious visual element confirms the usage of the reliable encryption technology, which won’t let scammers intercept or change personal data of your users, including their contacts, credit card numbers, logins and passwords.

Look, personally I don't want to deal with websites, which do not care about their clients. On the other hand, Google is aimed at providing quality and secure content to its users. Thus, installing an SSL Certification you will receive higher positions in search results and up the level of your website prestige.

TLS/ SSL handshake is a complicated and multilevel process. At the same time, it is so quick and smooth that most people don’t really think about it. Until something goes wrong. Majority of TLS/ SSL errors take place, because the process of secure data exchange through the internet is constantly improving.

Read Also

SSL and TLS — the Internal Rivalry of Father and Son

5+ Best SSL Plugins WordPress 2020

How Can I Get an SSL Certificate for Free?

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Irina Stanishevskaya

A tech-savvy humanitarian who is inspired by creative industries & fantastic IT designs. Broad experience in Advisory company and B2B investment solutions in the past. Believes that inspiration is the key point in any case.

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