Hey there, Chrome users! Has this ever happened to you: you’re cruising the web, using Google Chrome, and all of the sudden you get the error message, “Your connection is not private.” Depending on what you use your computer for (we’re not judging here), the idea of you having a less that completely secure connection just might send shivers down your spine.
And since Chrome isn’t the default browser for most operating systems, if you’re a Chrome user it’s because you have chosen to be. You have good reason for using this browser, so the idea that this favored browser might be compromised can be disturbing.
Well, fear not: We here at Appamatix have researched this problem, and have found the solution is really quite simple 99 out of 100 times. (Most of the time, it’s not a break down in your computer’s security at all). So we’ll discuss why you might prefer Chrome, why the privacy and security of your connection should be important to you and, most importantly, how to fix the “Your Connection is Not Private” problem.
Historically, privacy was almost implicit, because it was hard to find and gather information. But in the digital world, whether it’s digital cameras or satellites or just what you click on, we need to have more explicit rules – not just for governments but for private companies. — Bill Gates
Google Chrome 101
I’m going to date myself here: I remember when the only choices you had for web browsers were whatever came pre-loaded on your computer. Or, if you did want to install a new browser, you had to have (gulp) an install disk. I remember the futuristic wonderment I experienced back in college when I first downloaded and installed Firefox… straight from the internet! You mean I’m not being forced to use Internet Explorer? Or Netscape? You mean, I have some real choice in my utility software? Gasp!
It’s to everybody’s benefit that there are so many options for browsers these days. With all the competition, the browsers have to stay on their toes, developing new functions and add-ons (who else here remembers a time before tabbed browsing was pretty much standard?). And one of the more popular browsers out there is Chrome, produced by Google — you know, those guys responsible for about half of the internet?
And responsible for the other 50%…
Chrome offers a lot to an interested user. Not only do many users find it to be more secure, faster, and more streamlined, but it’s also great for shared computers: an ability to sign in to Chrome will help you to keep your tabs, bookmarks, and history separate from everybody else’s. However, an error message specific to Google Chrome has been showing up with greater frequency, and that is the “Your Connection is Not Private” error message.
Now, this isn’t to say that Google Chrome is necessarily less secure. Quite the opposite, actually: It’s calling attention to a lack of privacy primarily because there are so many safeguards in place. However, it can be very disconcerting for a number of users, especially if this is on a computer that you use for your banking or shopping, or if you have been hacked recently.
I don’t want to sound like an old man (although I’m sure that that ship sailed around the time that I admitted to a knowledge of Netscape), but you can’t be too careful about online security. In the earlier days of the internet, yes there were viruses and trojans and the like — but before the private user was using the internet consistently for financial transactions, these attacks were usually just by people who wanted to prove that they had the coding acumen to cause a little mayhem. Now with online banking so prevalent (along with all the myriad ways that new technology has enabled identity theft), the trouble of a virus is no longer just a matter of a brief inconvenience (even an expensive one, if the attack managed to slag your hard drive). No, now once you’re hacked, you’re always going to be looking over your shoulder, wondering if this is the month that your hacker is going to try to buy a private island (and a death ray) with your social security number.
Fortunately the “your connection is not private” error message doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s any digital hanky (or panky) going on here. It could be something entirely innocuous. But by trying out what we have below, you can eliminate some possibilities.
“Your Connection is Not Private” Fix for Chrome
And now, the main event: How to fix the “Your Connection is Not Private” error message that you may be encountering in Google’s popular browser, Chrome.
There are numerous things that may be contributing to this error message, and there are a variety of things you can try to get rid of this message, depending on whether you’re using a computer or a mobile device.
If You are Using a Computer…
If you encounter this error when using a computer, here’s what you should try:
- Check that your system time is accurate. Believe it or not, this is far and away the most common cause for this error message. Essentially, the security software, in checking web certificates and the like, will be thrown for a loop if the difference in system time between your computer and the server differ by too wide a margin. It can be annoying, but sometimes the time gets off on your computer. In my experience, this is particularly common on my laptop, when a battery life problem may have shut me down sooner than I intended. But it’s easily fixed. If you’re connected to the Internet, just going into your computer’s time and date menu can be enough to get it to remember what it’s supposed to be doing and fix the time. If you’re not connected to the internet, I may have found another reason why you’re having problems with Chrome.
- Check that your OS is up to date. For instance, if you are using the 32-bit version of Windows, make sure you have the latest Service Pack, which are regularly released to grant updates to security and minor functionality fixes. Granted, this is not likely to be a problem you encounter unless you’re using Windows XP, which lived longer than Windows originally intended it to, but is nonetheless more or less obsolete in the current environment. If you are still using XP though, you need Service Pack 3. For the 64 bit version, you want Service Pack 2.
- Are you using a WiFi portal? This is something that can vary depending on where you’re accessing the internet from. You see this a lot in coffee shops, malls, airports, or other public or semi-public spaces that offer free WiFi, but require you to “agree” to some internet policy, or even sign in. In fact, you’re seeing these more and more in private residences now, wherein residents will have a private WiFi shell, and a separate public one they allow guests to access. In any event, if you are accessing the internet through such a portal, here’s something you can try: try firing up another website in HTTP (so… no “https”). This may force the login screen for the WiFi portal, and re-logging in may help out for various reasons.
…Or on a Mobile Device
The following methods are things that you may try either on a computer or on a mobile device.
- System Time. Seriously, I am not kidding: 99% of the time that you get the “Your connection is not private” error message in Chrome is because of system time. Check your system time.
- Incognito Mode. Incognito mode in Chrome (and similarly named privacy modes in various other browsers) can be very useful: They keep your browsing private in a variety of ways, such as limiting cookie access, not recording history, and restricting certain browser extensions. In this case, Incognito mode also has a nice, utilitarian use in addition to peace of mind browsing (for any reason): If you are getting the “Your connection is not private” error message in Chrome, try bringing up the same site in Incognito mode. If you still get the same error message, okay, try something else. But if you don’t get the error message, this means that one of your browser extensions is causing the conflict (or, worse, compromising your data), and you should disable it. You can either disable your browser extensions wholesale, or try it one at a time (until you no longer get the error message), but in any event, this is something very useful to know.
- HTTPS Scanning. This is going to be a more common cause for people using devices that require after-market anti-virus or anti-malware software. While you may be diligent about making sure that the websites you access are all https, or else checking for the padlock icon that will accompany URLs of secure websites, the encryption spoken of by the S in httpS only makes sure that the info exchanged between your computer and the website proper doesn’t get tampered with by a third party en route. However, this does nothing about the site itself, and any malicious code which may have been put into that site. This is why more and more malware detectors are incorporating “HTTPS Scanning,” However, if you’ve tried everything else to no effect, you may want to see if HTTPS Scanning is what is causing the conflict. With this tip in particular (though this applies to most other tips as well), try this with your own best judgment, and your own caution.
Those are the methods that we’ve turned up about getting rid of the “Your connection is not private” message in Chrome. If these aren’t working for you, or if there’s something else that does work for you which we haven’t mentioned here, please let us know about it in the comments.