Safari can't establish a secure connection - how to fix?

How to troubleshoot the Safari can't establish a secure connection to server issue?

After browsing the Internet for some time, the Safari browser might stop loading certain websites. We receive many reports from Mac users stating that they encounter the "a secure connection could not be established" error message when using Safari and Chrome Internet browsers. Experienced Mac users often attempt to solve the issue, but are unsuccessful. Cleaning browsing data, cache, permissions, and resetting network settings usually  resolves various browser related issues, but these methods do not eliminate the "a secure connection could not be established" error message.

For everyday users and experienced Mac users alike, this problem can be frustrating, but fortunately, having analysed users' reports and suggestions, we have a number of solutions. Note that there might be several causes of this error message. The easiest way to find a solution is to try all methods mentioned in this guide - these should eliminate the "a secure connection could not be established" error message.


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Manage your DNS settings

DNS server entries might cause this problem. Google suggests that you to use their 'open entries' to ensure your connection is secure. To manage DNS settings, open System Preferences and choose Network. Click the Advanced button and select the DNS tab, remove all existing entries by selecting them and clicking minus(-). Then click the add (+) button and type, repeat the process and type Restart the browser and check if the problem is solved.


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Weak website's encryption

Apple has improved protection of their products, and as a result, block websites that contain weak encryption (websites that do not apply safety certificates that approve a webpage's encryption). Also, Safari might block a server if it detects that the connection route is through any proxy servers. Security improvements appeared with OS version 10.10.4 and iOS version 8.4 - from these versions, Safari began to block weak encryption websites. If your issue is caused by a missing or incorrect certificates problem, attempt to open the website through another browser such as Mozilla FireFox or Google Chrome. Quite often, Facebook and Twitter are interpreted as threats. Once the alternative browser loads the website, you will see a small green lock next to the URL address. Click the lock, and in the new pop-up window, click the more information button. In the new window, select the security tab, which is last option at the bottom. Under the security tab, click the show certificate button, and then switch tab to Details, which is at the top of the new pop-up window.


In the window, you will find all information required, including the title of the company providing the certificate. The next step is to run Keychain on the Mac. Use Spotlight by clicking the keyboard shortcut, Command and Spacebar. Then type Keychain. You can also go to the Utilities folder, which is under Applications through Finder. Here, you will find the Keychain application.


Once the app has launched, select the system roots to see a list of all certificates. Search for the one being blocked by Safari, double click it, expand the Trust option, and select System's defaults. Changing this option usually solves the certificate problems caused by a locked mail server. This also prevents other websites attempting to use this particular server.


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Adjust your Antivirus Web Shield feature

Anti-virus software is developed to protect our computers and content from all possible threats. Since it is an automatic process, small mistakes and mismatches might be flagged as suspicious. Developers includes a feature called Web Shield that blocks suspicious websites without indicating what caused the blocked content. So users are often frustrated by unknown issues. If the methods listed above did not solve the issue, check your anti-virus software and if there is a Web Shield feature enabled, try to disable it and relaunch Safari. Check if the problem is resolved. The method to disable the Web Shield feature will depend on the software you are using.

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Try disabling IPv6

Additionally, if none of the above steps solve the problem, there is one final option to try. If possible, attempt to use another Wi-Fi network and check if you are able to visit same pages without any restrictions. If all websites load correctly, try to disable IPv6 on the router (if it provides this option). Then, open Mac System Preferences and choose Network. Select your network and click Advanced. Select the TCP/IP tab. In the drop-down menu beside Configure IPv6, select Manually. In the case where Safari cannot establish a secure connection, this should solve the issue.


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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter to stay informed about the latest tech news or online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

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