How to Fix a Privacy Error in Chrome

Easy troubleshooting steps if the problem is on your end

PC laptop on wooden table with Chrome privacy error onscreen

Pixabay

Chrome is a popular, free, and very reliable web browser developed by Google. Occasionally, users may encounter a scary message when accessing a web page in Chrome that says "Your connection is not private." The message warns that attackers may be trying to steal your information. While this sounds alarming, there is likely nothing wrong.

Here's a look at what's causing this error, a checklist of harmless common problems that can cause Chrome's privacy error message, and how to fix them and get back to browsing.

This isn't just a Chrome issue. You may receive variations on this error in other browsers, such as Firefox and Safari. While these errors may differ, many times the troubleshooting steps are the same.

Why Is Chrome Giving You This Privacy Error?

Chrome will return this privacy error when it can't verify the SSL certificate of the site you're trying to reach. SSL is a secure data-encryption method that keeps transmitted data private and safe. Chrome won't load the website because it suspects it of being unsafe.

Many things can cause this SSL error. The site itself could have an expired SSL certificate, one that wasn't set up correctly, or one that wasn't issued by a trusted organization. There's nothing you can do if the problem is on the site's end. But if the problem is coming from your computer or device, there are some easy fixes to try.

To see if the site's SSL certificate is expired, select Not Secure on the top of the error window, and then Select Certificate. Check the Expires On date to see if the certificate is expired. If so, you can't fix the problem, but you can email the site owner to let them know.

Check for Problems on Your End

Sometimes, simple issues on your end may be causing this Chrome privacy error. Here are a few of the most common solutions.

Reload the Page

This is a quick and easy troubleshooting option to try. Close and reopen your Chrome browser and try to load the page again. Something may have been off with your browser, or the site owner might have been reissuing their SSL certificate.

Are You in a Public Place?

If you're using a public Wi-Fi network, such as in a restaurant or airport, you may receive this error if you try to log in to a website before accepting the location's terms and agreement. Navigate to a non-SSL site such as www.weather.com, and the sign-in page should open.

Clear Your Browser Cache and Cookies

Clearing your browser cache and cookies is another quick, easy troubleshooting method that may solve the problem. To clear your browser cache and cookies in Chrome, select the three-dot icon on the top right of the screen. Select More Tools > Clear Browsing Data.

Check Your Computer's Date and Time

An incorrectly set date and time on your device can prevent Chrome from verifying the SSL certificate of the site you're visiting. This is because when Chrome checks the expiration date of an SSL certificate, it compares it to the time on your computer’s clock. Here's how to make sure the time on your computer is correct.

Check the Clock on a Windows PC:

  1. Look at your clock in the bottom right corner of your screen. (This example is a Windows 10 screen.) Select the date and time for more information.

    Windows 10 Clock
  2. If your system’s date and time don’t match the actual date and time, open up your System Settings, either by searching or through the Start Menu.

    Windows 10 settings
  3. Select Time & Language near the bottom of the Settings window.

    Windows 10 Date and Time settings
  4. The window will shift to display the possible date and time settings. Make sure the time zone is correct.

    Windows 10 automatically sets your clock via the internet, so you should have the right time if the time zone is set correctly.

  5. If you’re not connected to the Internet, flip the Set time automatically switch off, and press Change to manually set your time.

  6. With your system time set correctly, return to the site, and see if the error appears again.

Check the Clock on a Mac:

  1. From the Apple menu select System Preferences.

  2. Select the Date & Time icon.

  3. Select Set date & time automatically to update the time.

  4. Select the Time Zone tab. If it doesn’t determine your location automatically, uncheck that option to set the time zone manually.

  5. Select your time zone region and city.

  6. Revisit the website to see if this has solved the problem.

Check Your Antivirus Software

As antivirus software becomes more advanced, it adds new features to protect against the latest threats. One such feature is a firewall that blocks sites not secured with SSL. While this is usually good, it can sometimes conflict with your network settings and mistakenly block some SSL certificates and connections.

To see if this is the problem, try temporarily disabling your antivirus software's SSL scanning feature.

Different antivirus software will have the setting governing this feature in different places, but this general overview, using Malwarebytes as an example, should help you locate and disable this feature.

  1. Open your antivirus program.

  2. Select Settings.

    Malwarebytes settings on Windows 10
  3. Look for and select a tab or section with Protection in the name. (Most programs have a separate section for different additional protection features.)

  4. Look for a setting pertaining to the Web or SSL. That’s the most likely source of the conflict. Disable that setting.

    Malwarebytes Web Protection settings
  5. Try accessing the site again to see if this has solved the problem.

If you don't see anywhere to turn off SSL scanning features, try temporarily disabling the antivirus software. If this solves the problem, you may want to consider trying a different antivirus problem that won't cause these conflicts.

Should You Go to the Website Anyway?

If you feel confident that the error is on the part of the website, and the website is known and trusted, it's possible to access the site with an insecure connection. To do this, select the Advanced link at the bottom of the error box and then select Proceed to website. This won't solve the error message problem and should be done only if you're very sure the website you are attempting to visit is safe.