You’ve likely come across a privacy warning or error as you’ve searched the internet before — it can instantly cause a rush of panic. Have you accidentally clicked a spam link? Has your information been compromised?
It can be especially concerning if this happens on your own website — you might wonder if you’ve been hacked or if your audience will stop visiting your site due to such an error.
Luckily, this is actually a common error that you can solve as well as prevent from happening again in the future by following a few simple tips. In this post, we’ll tell you how to fix the error, “Your Connection is Not Private.”
When you visit a website, you may notice there’s often a small lock symbol in the URL bar. Or, you may see HTTPS at the beginning of the URL. Both of these things mean the website is secure.
To access a website, your browser sends a request to the host server of that website. The host server then sends the website’s certifications to prove the site is safe and secure. But if the certificate isn’t validated by your browser for any reason, you’ll be greeted with the ominous “Your Connection is Not Private” error message like the one pictured below.
This likely means there’s an issue with the website’s SSL certificate. As a user, your data could be compromised if you move forward. And as a business, you don’t want your site visitors to see this error — you’ll want to fix it as soon as possible to restore your website’s security and let visitors know they’re safe on your website.
What is an SSL certificate?
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer, and this is a type of encryption that shields user data from hackers. An SSL certificate is particularly important for websites that sell goods and services, as this certification helps protect users’ payment information.
If the SSL certificate is expired or works for only a website’s domain but not its subdomains, the “Your Connection is Not Private” error will appear. It’s also possible to obtain SSL certification from unknown organizations, but if your browser doesn’t identify the source as trustworthy, this error will also appear.
HTTP vs. HTTPS
In the earlier days of the internet, you might recall seeing just HTTP in the URL for most websites. Although HTTPS was released in 1995, it wasn’t widely used until the 2010s.
Nowadays, more than 46 million websites on the internet are encrypted, meaning they include HTTPS in the URL. HTTP means the website is not encrypted which makes it easier for hackers to compromise a website. Security certifications like SSL were once more expensive, but the importance of protecting user data (and by extension, visitor trust) has led many established platforms to offer website owners SSL certificates for free.
Plus, switching to HTTPS is beneficial for websites, as Google and other search engines prioritize encrypted websites in search rankings.
So what exactly are you supposed to do if you come across a “Your Connection is Not Private” error on another website or your own? The steps below will walk you through exactly how to fix this issue.
How to Fix “Your Connection Is Not Private’’
Reload the web page.
Check your Wi-Fi.
Look at the date and time on your device.
Clear your cookies and cache.
Check your antivirus software.
Update the operating system.
1. Reload the web page.
Refresh the page or close your browser, reopen it, and visit the website again. There could have been a glitch on either party’s end, or your browser’s server request could have failed. Sometimes simply reloading the page will do the trick.
2. Check your Wi-Fi.
That free Wi-Fi at your local cafe can be handy, but public Wi-Fi is one of the top reasons a user may get the “Your Connection is Not Private” error. Public Wi-Fi typically runs on HTTP, and you’ll receive the error as a warning that your connection is not encrypted.
Public Wi-Fi networks often have a portal page where you have to sign in and accept terms and agreements before you can access HTTPS websites.
If your computer’s date and time don’t match up with those shown on your browser, this privacy error could appear. Also, an incorrect date and time may show the SSL certificate of a website as expired which would also lead to the error.
Go into your computer settings to check the date and time and correct them if necessary. Then reload the page.
4. Go incognito.
“Incognito Mode” means your browser will not save information on your browsing habits. By going incognito, you can check to see if your cache is causing the privacy error.
If you aren’t receiving the “Your Connection is Private” error while searching incognito, then try clearing your cache. You can also use another browser to visit the website, as some browser extensions may lead to the error.
5. Clear your cookies and cache.
Your cookies and cache store information about your browsing actions to make using the internet more efficient. For example, it can save your searches and the websites you frequent, making connecting to those websites or search results even faster the next time you need them.
But this saved data could cause issues if it isn’t refreshed periodically. If the connection privacy error occurs, go into your browser settings > history > clear cookies and cache.
Close the browser and reopen it — then revisit the page.
6. Check your antivirus software.
Antivirus software is meant to protect you from websites that aren't secure, but it can also conflict with your browser’s ability to do the same thing. Temporarily turn off your software after receiving the error, then visit the website again.
If the error is gone, your antivirus software has been overriding your network. If the error persists, you can re-enable your antivirus software and test one of the other methods to identify the problem.
7. Update the operating system.
Google suggests updating your device’s operating system if you receive this error. An outdated device may not be compatible with or capable of recognizing updated websites and SSL certificates.
To update an operating system on macOS, go to your system preferences > software update. Check for updates and install them.
On a Windows computer, go to the control panel > search for update > Check for updates and install them.
If all else fails, you can go into Advanced Settings on the "Your Connection is Not Private" screen and proceed to the website, but this is not recommended. The error is there for a reason.
If you’ve tried every method of fixing the issue and it persists, it means your connection isn’t secure.
By proceeding, you are taking a huge risk with your personal data. We cannot stress this enough — proceeding “with caution” is not recommended.
Stay Safe and Secure While Browsing Online
The “Your Connection is Not Private” error is one of the most helpful messages you can receive because it keeps you and your personal information safe. Simply coming across this error isn’t cause for concern as there are many innocuous reasons why your connection may not be secure.
By testing the methods above to resolve the error, you can efficiently target and resolve the root cause of the error. If none of the above steps make the error message go away, simply step away from the website to avoid putting your data at risk and find an alternative website option.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published May 3, 2022 7:00:00 AM, updated June 23 2022