Come 1st September 2021, smartphones that are running on Android 7.1 Nougat or earlier will get error messages when they try to open a Secure-Socket Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) protected websites.
This is because the company providing this security certificate uses a root certificate that expires on that day. The company in question is Let’s Encrypt and it is one of the most popular certificate authorities. ZDNet says that most of the websites you visit uses its open-source cross-signature from IdenTrust, “DST Root X3”.
The expiration will not affect newer Android smartphones or iOS users because they can work with Let’s Encrypt new root certificate; ISRG Root X1. In a statement, Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, a lead developer on Let’s Encrypt revealed:
“Android has a long-standing and well-known issue with operating system updates. There are lots of Android devices in the world running out-of-date operating systems. The causes are complex and hard to fix: for each phone, the core Android operating system is commonly modified by both the manufacturer and a mobile carrier before an end-user receives it.
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“When there’s an update to Android, both the manufacturer and the mobile carrier have to incorporate those changes into their customized version before sending it out. Often manufacturers decide that’s not worth the effort. The result is bad for the people who buy these devices: Many are stuck on operating systems that are years out of date.”
The simple solution according to ZDNet is to buy a newer Android smartphone. Or you could install the Firefox Mobile browser. It supports Android versions as old as Android 5.0 Lollipop. The browser comes with its own list of trusted root certificates, thus, bringing updated ones to old smartphones.
Android 7.0 phones and older may not be able to already access websites that are either using Lets Encrypt certificate for the first time or are renewing an existing certificate around the end of 2020.
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