The Government Shutdown is hurting Cyber Security

We are of course aware of the government shutdown. You’ve seen the news with disgruntled federal employees angry about not being paid or footage of America’s national parks either closed or overflowing with garbage. There is another casualty that has not been mentioned or championed by the media and it is one that potentially puts Americans at risk. Thanks to the government shutdown the expiring TLS certificates of our government’s websites are not able to be renewed.

Expiring and Expired TLS Certificates

If you read our blog we have been over what SSL certificates do many times but simply they encrypt communications sent over the Internet and they help to keep you safe on the Internet. These certificates are not infinite, they need to be renewed, usually yearly and TLS certificates operate in much the same manner .

TLS (Transport Layer Security) certificates are similar to SSL, for the most part they are just stronger and more improved SSL certificates that work with different ports and they operate on different layers, SSL on the Socket Layer and TLS on the Transport Layer as their names imply. With these certificates expired some websites have become non-functional or require a workaround though HTTP to access the site. These sites include the sites within the Department of Justice, NASA, the US Court of Appeals and others, at least 80 in total.

Now, to be fair, not all of these have not been able to renewed because of the shutdown. A Department of Justice site had theirs expire a week before the shutdown. With the expiration of these certificates though the amount of cyber attacks has increased and with the various agencies short staffed dealing with these attacks is becoming harder and harder. More certificates are expected to expire in the coming days and weeks as President Trump has vowed not to sign any budget bills unless his demands for a border barrier are included thus prolonging the government shutdown.

Potential Impact of Every American

For anyone who says they do not care about the government shutdown or it does not affect them they are wrong. This has the potential to impact every American, and we don’t mean not just being able to get your tax refund earlier from the IRS. The lack of these certificates will only draw cyber criminals like a magnet leaving your information vulnerable.

Considering that the government has more information about you than any other entity (other than Facebook maybe?) you should be concerned. This information is more impactful than someone in China knowing where you ate dinner last night or what hotel you stayed in on your vacation. The government has your tax records, your social security number and a lot of other sensitive information about you that criminals would love to get their hands on.


The problem is of course there is nothing that you can really do other than to urge your representatives to work this out. Considering neither party, Donald Trump or Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have made any public inclination to budge we, the common Americans will be the ones to pay the price and we have little recourse other than to sit on the sidelines. While Schumer and Pelosi have given us a good laugh thanks to the new memes this is a very serious situation and they need to start thinking about the consequences of their actions (or inactions) as does Trump and get a deal done. One would hope that this will be remembered when all three of these people come up for re-election by their constituents.

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