Internet 'blackout' on September 30, which could affect several phones and computers

Thursday, September 30, 2021

On September 30. If your phone or computer is disconnected from the Internet at some point on September 30, there is nothing to worry about, but if your device is running on old software, then there is something else.

Today, Thursday, a key element in the connection to the network of mobile phones, Mac or Windows computers, Internet browsers, and even video game consoles will disappear. Things in some areas have been called 'Internet blackouts'.

This is a 'Root Certificate' with a very technical name 'IdentTrust DST Root CA X3', which expires on September 30 at 2:00 PM GMT. Root certificates serve as a link between a device and the Internet, whether it's a mobile phone or a computer. This is a factor that ensures that connections are secure and confidential.

In order to keep the system of a device up to date, such as iOS, Android, Windows, it is allowed to keep such certificates updated, so that the system is replaced with new ones as it expires. But not doing so has bad consequences. "At least something is going to go wrong," computer security expert Scott Helm warned on his blog.

Who can be affected?

Nothing will happen with the majority of these devices. But machines with older operating systems will not be able to connect to the network.

These will include factory computer systems that are never connected to the Internet, or smartphones that are never connected to a Wi-Fi network, or that have not been updated in about five years or more. This is because there are many computers that rely solely on the Idean Trust DST Route CA X3 certificate, which came out in 2000 and expires on September 30.

Devices and systems that may be affected:

  • All iPhones have a pre-iOS 10 system (iPhone 5 is the oldest version that can be installed).
  • Computers with Windows XSP3
  • MacBooks with pre-Mac OS 2016 system
  • Computers with pre-Ubuntu 1 6.04 operating systems
  • PlayStation 3 consoles using firmware and Nintendo 3DS.
  • Android phones with versions prior to Nougat 7.1.1 (but they can continue to use the Internet through the Firefox browser).
  • Firefox browser with less than 50 versions.
  • Computers using OpenSL, NNS, Java 8 and 7, Debian systems.
  • According to Scott Helm, other devices that are not clear that could be affected include BlackBerry phones (versions before 10.3.3) and Kindle book readers with versions less than 3.4.1.

Why do certificates expire?

The public and private certification authorities responsible for verifying the security of device connections to the Internet are known as CAs.

As a precautionary measure, these certificates come with an expiration date and it is the authorities who are in charge of renewing or revoking them. As Helm explains, "Once this CA expires, users, such as web browsers, will no longer trust the certificate issued by this CA."

Certificate renewal is distributed with device system updates. This has caused problems for computers with older operating systems in the past. On May 30, 2020, an ad trust firm's certificate expired, causing problems for Roko's online television system, or Stripe & Spreadly, an online payment platform.

The best way to avoid this type of hassle is to install regular system updates.

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