Every website should have a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate—no exceptions. SSL certificates help encrypt the data that passes between end users and your site and verify your site is secure. However, they are designed to expire. If you’re not paying attention, you might forget to renew your certificate.
SSL certificate monitoring tools enable you to keep track of all the certificates you own and when they expire. Thanks to this software, you can request renewals before your document expires, so there’s no downtime involved.
In this article, we’ll talk about how SSL certificate expiration monitoring works and why certificates expire in the first place. Then we’ll introduce you to three tools for SSL certificate management and monitoring.
Why SSL Monitoring Is Important (And What Happens When Your Certificate Expires)
Every SSL certificate comes with an expiration date. That’s not because certificate authorities are keen on making more money. Instead, expiration dates are built-in security features.
When a certificate expires, you’re forced to renew it. This renewal process involves validating your website and domain ownership.
If certificates didn’t expire, attackers could replace websites with phishing attempts. In turn, they could lure visitors into believing they’re safe because they see a certificate.
Renewing an SSL certificate might seem like a chore, but it’s necessary from a security standpoint. Certificates help protect user data, safeguard e-commerce transactions, and improve user trust.
In exchange for all these protections, you need to renew SSL certificates periodically. The process is well worth the time and effort.
How SSL Certificate Monitoring Works
Every SSL certificate has an expiration date you can check through your browser or the authority that expedited it. In many cases, certificate authorities will send you reminders well before your expiration date, so you can prepare for the renewal process.
If you’re managing SSL certificates for multiple domains, tracking their expiration dates becomes exponentially more challenging. SSL certificate monitoring tools can alleviate some of your stress and streamline the process.
Depending on which SSL management and monitoring tool you use, it should assist with some of these processes:
- Helping ensure you’re using the correct type of SSL certificate for each domain
- Remaining in compliance with security standards for payment processors if you’re dealing with an e-commerce domain
- Setting up alerts to inform you about SSL certificate expirations well before they happen
- Monitoring web performance issues and alerting you to problems with your site’s SSL certificates
That last feature is a critical component of this software. Instead of simply alerting you when certificates are about to expire, SSL certificate management tools also let you know about ongoing connectivity issues with your sites. They’ll also explain how they might be related to certificate errors (which are relatively common).
How to Monitor SSL Certificates (3 Tools)
As we mentioned before, SSL certificate expiration monitoring tools do more than tell you when certificates are about to expire. They also provide you with features to make SSL management easier.
With that in mind, we put together a list of our top three SSL cert monitoring tool picks.
1. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor
SolarWinds® Server & Application Monitor (SAM) includes a powerful SSL certificate management and application performance management tool. This feature lets you verify SSL certificates are working throughout your web applications. It does this by testing whether servers can accept incoming connections.
You can use SAM to set up alerts for SSL certificates across your network, so administrators know well before they’re about to expire.
You get access to network performance tools that enable you to identify bottlenecks. SAM can improve the overall functioning of your website.
Price: You can request a free SAM demo, and prices vary depending on your business’s needs.
TrackSSL is a straightforward SSL certificate management tool that enables you to monitor as many certificates as you need. With this program, you can set up alerts for specific users, so they’re aware of upcoming expiration dates.
On top of expiration-date monitoring, TrackSSL also checks your websites for common certificate errors such as misconfigured hosts. If there’s anything wrong with your credentials, you can configure TrackSSL to let you know immediately.
Finally, TrackSSL integrates easily with Slack, so you can use the two programs together to streamline your SSL notifications.
Price: TrackSSL plans start at US$9 per month for up to 20 domains.
KeyChest is a comprehensive SSL cert monitoring tool that enables you to track as many certificates as needed. You can set up the software on your network, and it’ll automatically discover any new credentials on your servers.
You can use KeyChest to set up alerts for upcoming expiration dates. You can also automate renewals depending on what type of certificates you’re using.
Furthermore, the program provides weekly reports on the state of your credentials and any errors it encounters. It also displays a complete timeline for every entry in your certificate database.
Price: KeyChest offers a free plan, and prices for premium licenses vary.
Managing SSL certificates for one or two websites is simple. However, when you have dozens of applications across multiple networks, ensuring your certificates work properly can become a full-time job. With SSL certificate monitoring tools, you can help ensure none of your properties are vulnerable or impossible to access.
If you’re on the market for SSL certificate management and monitoring software, here are three of the best options:
- SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor: SAM is a full-featured application monitoring solution for network components, including SSL certificates.
- TrackSSL: A simple SSL monitoring tool that enables you to set up alerts for multiple certificates.
- KeyChest: This powerful SSL cert monitoring software can detect new certificates on your network and track their expiration dates.
Do you have any questions about monitoring SSL certificates? Let us know in the comments section below!
[Pricing as of March 2022]