Cannot Access Secure Sites
I have Windows XP SP2, and within the past two weeks I have not been able to get into any secure (https) sites. I can get to the web page, but when I enter my userid and password, it says The page cannot be displayed -- can you help?
Some Fixes Break Things
That's what many users discovered when they applied the XP/SP2 megafix... some things no longer worked, such as access to secure websites. Unfortunately there are many potential causes and possible fixes for this "page cannot be displayed" problem. But most of them are easy to try. Run through these in the order listed below, and chances are good you'll be back in action.
When this type of thing happens "suddenly", I always suspect the cause is a recent software installation or update. Just in case that new software is something you DON'T want -- like a virus or spyware -- the first thing I recommend is to run a good anti-virus and anti-spyware tool. See my articles How can I avoid computer viruses? and Spy, Counter-Spy for details on how to protect yourself from those risks.
Next, make sure you're up to date with the Microsoft system patches. To get the latest fixes and configure your system for automatic updates, open Internet Explorer, click on Tools, then Windows Update. Allow Windows to download and install any critical fixes that are identified.
Check Your Browser
Once you're certain your system is up to date and cleared of malware, test your browser's ability to make a secure connection using this VeriSign SSL test site. It will tell you if your browser has the 128-bit security feature required to connect to most secure sites, and will recommend browser updates if needed.
Next, click on Tools, Internet Options, then the Advanced tab. Scroll to the bottom of list and make sure "Use SSL" and "Use TLS" options (all versions) are checked. Now check the security settings in Internet Explorer. Click on Tools, Internet Options, then the Security tab. Select Internet, then click Custom Level. Use the dropdown box to set custom settings to Medium or Low, then click OK.
Turn Back The Clock
If you can identify when the failure to connect to secure sites started happening, a system restore may help by rolling back any changes that have been made. Click on Start, Help, then "Undo changes to your computer with System Restore". A calendar will show the system restore points that are available. Choose the one JUST BEFORE the problem began and do a restore.
Block the Blocker
Still having a problem connecting to secure sites? Your network router or firewall software may be blocking access. To find out if your router is causing the problem, unplug the network cable that runs from your cable modem to the router, and plug it directly into the network (ethernet) jack on your computer -- temporarily cutting the router out of the loop. If that solves the problem, check your router's manual to see if it can block or unblock certain ports. It's unlikely, but it may be configured to block port 443, which is used to make secure connections.
If you run a software-based firewall such as the Windows XP firewall, ZoneAlarm, Black Ice, Norton Internet Security or similar, turn it off and see if that fixes the problem. Software firewalls can also block certain ports, so poke around and see if you need to unblock port 443. For more help see this Microsoft article on unblocking ports. Chances are you don't even need a firewall. See Do I Need a Firewall? for more information.
If you still have a problem accessing secure sites, check these Microsoft knowledge base articles:
Have you found a solution not listed in this article? Please post a comment and share it!
Posted by Bob Rankin on 5 Dec 2005
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Cannot Access Secure Sites (Posted: 5 Dec 2005)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved