Cannot Access Secure Sites

Category: Security

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.

Got Malware?

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.

Get Updated

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.

More Resources

If you still have a problem accessing secure sites, check these Microsoft knowledge base articles:

  • How to Reinstall or Repair Internet Explorer
  • How to troubleshoot problems accessing secure Web pages with Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 2

    Have you found a solution not listed in this article? Please post a comment and share it!

    Ask Your Computer or Internet Question

      (Enter your question in the box above.)

    It's Guaranteed to Make You Smarter...

    AskBob Updates: Boost your Internet IQ & solve computer problems.
    Get your FREE Subscription!


    Check out other articles in this category:

    Link to this article from your site or blog. Just copy and paste from this box:

    This article was posted by on 5 Dec 2005

    For Fun: Buy Bob a Snickers.

    Prev Article:
    Keystroke Logging

    The Top Twenty
    Next Article:
    Digital Music and Lyrics

    Most recent comments on "Cannot Access Secure Sites"

    (See all 43 comments for this article.)

    Posted by:

    05 Oct 2007

    removing the norton anti-virus worked!! thanks jeff k

    Posted by:

    09 Oct 2007

    I couldn't access any secure sites, yahoo mail, bank account, any sign-in page. I tried several things to correct the problem. It wasn't until I deleted Norton that the problem was solved.

    Posted by:

    Ronald Allan
    14 Oct 2007

    did anyone of you tried proxy site?

    Posted by:

    Jessica Franklin
    18 Oct 2007

    hi, I am having a similar problem, cannot login to secure sites like facebook and msn and yahoo mail, yahoo says that my browser doesn't support cookies but i did the override automatic cookie handling thing and allowed session cookies. I reinstalled internet explorer 7 and now when i try and login to hotmail the page just refreshes. with facebook it just takes me back to the login page, i have deleted internet file, and all norton files to no avail please help i have trie everything and it says on the microsoft website that it cost 46 pounds flat fee i dont want to pay that!!

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Sounds like you're still blocking cookies, and there is NO reason to do that. You can try with Firefox browser...

    Posted by:

    Jessica Franklin
    22 Oct 2007

    I have tried using Firefox and I have the same problem, on Hotmail, it just says that my password is incorrect the first time, and then the second time it bounces me back to the login page and on other sites (except my bank) it refreshes back to the login page, please help! I just don't understand why I can login to my bank, but not other secure sites.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Have you disabled or limited cookies? Or do you use any well-meaning security software that does so?

    Posted by:

    Jessica Franklin
    25 Oct 2007

    I have checked and i am allowing cookies. i even took off every kind of protection that my antivirus which is McAfee and Windows had and it still does not work, I am just confused becasue my bank will log me in and even rememmbers my details for me but no other site.

    Posted by:

    03 Dec 2007

    try a proxy site like

    Posted by:

    23 Jan 2008

    Hi, I am not able to connect to the Internet via IE or Mozilla Firefox but I am to login to Messengers while connecting to BroadBand. I have a Compaq Pressario V6000 laptop. My Wireless connection is working fine.

    Can you please let me know the problem.

    Posted by:

    02 Mar 2008

    i have been facing this problem of logging on to hotmail https site ;after the login page submission - the page shows message cannot be displayed. i had the same prob. about a month ago and solved it by allowing pop-ups from 1st and third parties in security tab of IE options. I am using IE 7.0.5730.11 and bit / cipher strength is 128 bits. Also i have removed norton's all types of software but to no avail. i have in the PC McAfee and Spyware Doctor from long time.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Have you tried removing McAfee and/or the spyware sotware to see if they are interfering?

    Posted by:

    11 May 2008

    I had the same problem. I was not able to login into yahoomail, gmail, orkut. But I tried a proxy site and it worked. I was able to access all secured sites. What could have been the problem? Plz suggest an alternate solution as I don't want to access all the sites through proxy.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: I assume you're trying to access those sites from work or school, and they are explicitly blocked by the network administrators.

    Posted by:

    11 Jun 2008

    I have windows XP and recently got infected with spyware, after i ran ad aware and spybot i couldnt access secure sites, it seems i cannot even open norton anti virus and i cant even uninstall it..Any time i find a website to where i might be able to fix this problem its says that the page cannot be displayed..also i tried to use system restore but it always fails to restore...i dont want to spend $200 to the geek squad on this one, i dont kno wat to do nemore...thanks

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Some viruses try to block anti-virus download pages, nasty. I recommend that you install Windows Defender and AVG anti-virus. Hopefully they can catch and kill the nasties.

    Posted by:

    13 Nov 2008

    im having the same problem. But, it dosent say page connot be displayed just the same page comes up again without my log in details. If i take my laptop over my mates house and connect to her network it works? So its gotaah be something to do with my router. Help?! Thanks.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Sounds suspiciously like a classic man-in-the-middle spoof. I would hit the reset button on your router and see it that clears up the problem. You may also have to re-configure your router settings, check with your ISP on that...

    Posted by:

    ken y
    01 Jan 2009

    whew........i'm having the same problem. i'm fairly computer literate, and upgraded to a new harddisk with xp sp2.......and lo, no secure sites. i've tried your suggestions, but nothing works........still get the "cannot find server" message.........i'm about ready to re-format, and install sp1.....please help!


    Posted by:

    21 Aug 2009

    I'm not tech savvy, and I came across this page while researching a problem which would tell me every certificate was not valid or expired and would block me from going to sites I knew were okay . It turned out to be a simple fix. Somehow the clock on my computer got turned back to 2000. So every site had a not yet valid or expired certificate. Once I set the 2009 date, I could get to every site without a problem. And that eliminated each "Security Alert" warning I was getting.

    Posted by:

    stephen glunk
    14 Feb 2010

    thank you so much i would have spent hours trying to access secure sites your the man !!

    Posted by:

    01 May 2010

    I have a problem where I cannot use google properly or sign into youtube anymore at all.

    Heres what it looks like.
    Not Found

    The requested URL /accounts/ServiceLogin was not found on this server.

    Apache/2.2.3 (CentOS) Server at Port 443

    The Url is crossed out with a red cross

    Posted by:

    23 May 2010

    for the past 1 week when i try to visit the website the following error message appears.

    The connection has timed out

    The server at is taking too long to respond.
    * The site could be temporarily unavailable or too busy. Try again in a few moments.
    * If you are unable to load any pages, check your computer's network connection.
    * If your computer or network is protected by a firewall or proxy, make sure that Firefox is permitted to access the Web.

    Try Again

    Pl note that earlier i was visiting the site everyday and there was no such problem. kindly help!

    Posted by:

    27 May 2010

    Hello, I'm having problem with my computer. There's a pop up that says there's a threat in my computer, I was stupid to clicked it. Since then, it keeps popping up, and said that the only thing to fix it is to update my anti-virus and pay $ 50 - $70 dollars. I tried to open a website but the only website that keeps popping up is that anti-virus thing spyware.. I tried to scan the computer with AVG but it won't because of this spyware...What should I do..Please help..

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Try these solutions:

    Posted by:

    03 Jun 2010

    Had a virus, really nasty fake antivirus software rogue virus. Used Malwarebytes Anti Malware software (free dowhload) and it erradicated my problem. Went to reboot and when computer came back up could only access https websites, not http sites. This was driving me crazy, was just about to reformat and reload my HD when one last look at all the setting in internet explorer and I discovered that the Proxy box was checked instead of automatic detect. Unchecked the Proxy box and checked the auto detect instead and my problem was solved. (Tools-Internet Options-Connections-LAN Settings-Auto Detect.

    Posted by:

    05 Dec 2013

    I agree that best way to access a gmail account from school & college is a vpn like

    There's more reader feedback... See all 43 comments for this article.

    Post your Comments, Questions or Suggestions

    *     *     (* = Required field)

        (Your email address will not be published)
    (you may use HTML tags for style)

    YES... spelling, punctuation, grammar and proper use of UPPER/lower case are important! Comments of a political nature are discouraged. Please limit your remarks to 3-4 paragraphs. If you want to see your comment posted, pay attention to these items.

    All comments are reviewed, and may be edited or removed at the discretion of the moderator.

    NOTE: Please, post comments on this article ONLY.
    If you want to ask a question click here.

    Free Tech Support -- Ask Bob Rankin
    Subscribe to AskBobRankin Updates: Free Newsletter

    Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved
    About Us     Privacy Policy     RSS/XML

    Article information: AskBobRankin -- Cannot Access Secure Sites (Posted: 5 Dec 2005)
    Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved