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Windows XP > Troubleshooting Windows XP

Internet Explorer Cannot Connect to Secure Web Sites

By: Arie Slob

Quite a number of people have been reporting problems connecting to Secure Web sites (the ones that start with https:// ). There are a number of possible causes, which in turn have a number of suggested fixes.

You can test your ability to connect to SSL sites using this SSL test site.

Check Firewall/Network Configuration

Make sure that the SSL port (port 443) is open on your network/firewall (if you have any). There are many different Firewall/Network products, so we can't give set-by-step instructions. Check the documentation or help file of the product you use.

Verify that Internet Explorer Is Using 128-Bit Encryption

To check:

  1. In Internet Explorer, on the Help menu, click About Internet Explorer
  2. The level of encryption on your computer appears next to the words Cipher Strength. Verify that the Cipher Strength value appears as 128-bit

If the Cipher Strength is anything less then 128-bit, download the Internet Explorer High Encryption Pack to your computer's hard disk, and then install it.

Delete Temporary Internet Files

There's also a possibility of some corrupted files in your Temporary Internet Files (TIF) storage. To clear these:

  1. In Internet Explorer, on the Tools menu, click Internet Options, and select the General tab
  2. Under Temporary Internet files, click Delete Files, and click OK when you are prompted to confirm the deletion

Configure Internet Explorer Security, Content, and Advanced Settings

Configure Security settings for the Trusted sites zone in Internet Explorer:

  1. In Internet Explorer, on the Tools menu, click Internet Options, and select the Security tab
  2. Select Trusted sites, and then click Default Level
  3. Add the secure Web site you are trying to access to the Trusted sites zone. To do so, click Sites, type the address (URL) of the site in the Add this Web site to the zone box, click Add, click OK, and then click Apply

Clear the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) slate and AutoComplete history:

  1. In Internet Explorer, on the Tools menu, click Internet Options, and select the Content tab
  2. Under Certificates, click Clear SSL State
  3. Click OK when you receive the message that the SSL cache was successfully cleared
  4. Under Personal information, click AutoComplete
  5. Under Clear AutoComplete history, click Clear Forms. Click OK when you are prompted to confirm the operation.

Verify that Internet Explorer is configured to use SSL 2.0 and SSL 3.0:

  1. In Internet Explorer, on the Tools menu, click Internet Options, and select the Advanced tab
  2. In the Settings box, under the Security header, click to select the Use SSL 2.0 and Use SSL 3.0 check boxes (if they are not already selected), and then click OK

Verify that the Date and Time Settings on Your Computer Are Correct

Because SSL certificates have an expiry date, if the date on your computer isn't correct, it may prevent you from connecting to secure sites. To verify that your computer is configured with the correct date and time settings:

  1. Click Start > click Control Panel
  2. Click Date, Time, Language, and Regional Options, and then click Date and Time
  3. Select the Date & Time tab
  4. Check to make sure that the date and time settings are configured to use the current date and time, and then click OK

Some Microsoft Knowledge Base Articles dealing with this problem

232012 -

Error Message When You Attempt to Install 128-Bit Upgrade

261328 -

Cipher Strength Appears as 0-Bit in Internet Explorer

301803 -

Error Message When You Try to Connect to Secure Site: Client Certificate Has Expired or Is Not Yet Valid

303807 -

"The Page Cannot Be Displayed" Error Message When You Try to View Web Page on a Secure Web Site

305217 -

Page Cannot Be Displayed Error During SSL 3.0 Server Session Timeout

555295 -

Internet Explorer hangs when you visit a secured site

811383 -

Internet Explorer Connectivity and Certificate Display Issues

813951 -

You Cannot Access Your MSN E-mail Account or Authenticate with a Web Site in Various Programs

821814 -

You Receive a "Page Cannot Be Displayed" Error Message When You Post to a Site That Requires Authentication