Microsoft’s fast growing communication platform Teams went down on Monday for several hours because the certificate ran out. Some of our clients had problems connecting to the platform from desktop and mobile devices saying it had failed to create an HTTPS connection to the service.
What’s a certificate then?
A certificate is a small computer file that ensures that all data passed between your browser and a website or service remains private. It allows you to independently verify who you are sharing your data with, a small but very important component.
Certificates are time limited and normally run from 3 months up to 5 years. You apply them to your public facing websites or applications that require security as part of the data exchange.
What happens when a certificate runs out?
Microsoft embarrassingly found out this week it can break the service you are trying to protect and stop an application from working and is what happened to Teams.
Is there a really technical reason why Microsoft missed it?
There has been no update from Microsoft as to why the certificate was missed, other than someone either forgot to repurpose, repurchase or apply the new certificate at the right time.
We can all appreciate how complex managing multiple systems and applications is and that is what we do day in day out. Microsoft possibly manage thousands of certificates across multiple platforms and systems and something went wrong with their process which we’re sure they’ll correct. They are not the first company to have forgotten to renew a certificate and they certainly won’t be the last.
How do we track certificates?
All our clients have multiple certificates to manage for different services such as their website, outlook web access, remote access and other web service applications. With the number of certificates growing for each client as well as other time-based IT renewals the chance of missing an expiry rate rises. Relying on an excel spread sheet or outlook reminders are no longer suitable to improve the reliability.
As part of our service and investment in tools, we use documentation, automation and process to manage certificates – create alerts, renewal process and application of the certificate before expiry. Through close working relationship with our clients and their systems we understand the interaction and impact to service, expectations can be met so there’s one less thing to worry about.