As the government shutdown drags on, a rising number of federal websites are falling into disrepair — making it harder for Americans to access online services and needlessly undermining their faith in the Internet’s security, experts warn. In the past week, the number of outdated Web security certificates held by U.S. government agencies has exploded from about 80 to more than 130, according to Netcraft, an Internet security firm based in Britain. Various online pages run by the White House, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Archives and the Department of Agriculture appear to be affected by the latest round of expirations, Netcraft said.
The report follows revelations last week that Web pages run by NASA, the Justice Department, the federal judiciary and others have been affected by a lapse in security certification. The actual number of websites affected could be much higher than 130, said Paul Mutton, a Netcraft security consultant, as some certificates may have covered multiple pages under the same agency.
The expired certificates mean that most modern Web browsers, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, will refuse to display the pages on request — instead showing a warning message that suggests the sites may have been compromised by hackers.