Dozens of federal websites are malfunctioning due to their security certificates expiring during the weeks-long US government shutdown, Buzzfeed News has reported. In the US, a government shutdown occurs when Congress or the President does not approve appropriations or resolutions for funding federal operations and agencies. The current government shutdown has arisen out of the House of Representatives’ refusal to grant $5.7bn (£4.5bn) in federal funds to build a US-Mexico border wall and President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept any bill that does not provide the funds. Trump memorably claimed during his election campaign that “Mexico will pay” for the border wall; the Mexican government has declined to do so. The government shutdown is well into its third week, making it the longest-running government shutdown in the US history. During the shutdown, approximately 400,000 federal workers remain without pay until the government reopens, while many others are required to continue to perform essential work without pay.
As “non-essential” federal workers such as some IT employees remain unpaid and at home, dozens of neglected government websites have begun to malfunction. According to Netcraft, a UK web services company, the problem is related to the failure to renew the websites’ expired Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificates, which authenticate secure connections.
This has rendered the sites mostly inaccessible from popular web browsers, notably Google Chrome, due to the threat of insecure connections. Pages on the US Courts, Nasa, Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission, Department of Justice, and Department of Homeland Security sites are among those affected by the shutdown.