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By | John Leyden 11th March 2008 09:51

Equifax typo derails digital cert

Minor glitch narks business customers

Equifax has followed HSBC in making a hash of renewing one of its digital certificates.

Consumers logging onto Equifax's UK website last week were greeted with a notice that the site couldn't be verified because its certificate had expired.

That's the same problem HSBC banking business customers also experienced last week when the bank was amiss in renewing its relevant certificate in time.

In the case of Equifax, however, the bank purchased a certificate but a typo meant it failed to install it correctly.

"Equifax renewed its certificates last week prior to their expiration on the 7 March, but when these new certificates were installed on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, there was a typographical error (missed off one "w") on one half of our clustered servers which didn't show up on our commission tests," a spokeswoman for the credit reference agency told El Reg.

"When the original certificates expired, this led to intermittent errors of the type stating that 'the certificate had expired, do you wish to continue?' If the client said yes, they were allowed to carry on. We resolved the typo as soon as it was prudent to do so, which was around 8pm on Friday night. There was never a problem with the certificate, only a typo with the install on one half of our cluster."

Forgetting to renew a digital certificate can happen to any organisation, as Microsoft and Symantec can verify. In such cases a secure connection can still be established with a site.

Such slip-ups are trivial but embarrassing - especially when they happen to financial service organisations such as banks and credit reference agencies, who seldom tire of lecturing the rest of us on the importance of verifying online identities. ®

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