Can’t connect to the internet? It might be because your device is too old 

Ioannis Pashakis//September 30, 2021

Can’t connect to the internet? It might be because your device is too old 

Ioannis Pashakis//September 30, 2021


If you can’t click on this story, it might be time for a new device. 

As of Thursday, older phones and computers that are no longer supported by their manufacturers may lose access to a number of websites and apps. 

The problem stems from a popular digital certificate used by websites that tell a device logging into the site that it is safe to use. Older tech, such as Macs running macOS 10.12.0 or earlier, and iPhones and iPads running iOS 9 or earlier, were only programmed to read the certification on these sites up until Sept. 29, 2021, said John Fields, director of IT for Central Penn Business Journal’s parent company, Bridge Tower Media. 

Those devices and others, such as computers running Windows XP and older Android devices, do not receive updates from their manufacturers anymore like their more modern counterparts. That means they can no longer access any app or website that uses that specific certificate after it expired. 

A website’s certificate can be found by clicking on the small lock to the left of a website’s URL in a browser. For example, when reading this story on CPBJ.com, click on the lock next to the CPBJ.com URL, then on certificate and finally certification path. Doing so reveals the “chain of trust,” or a list of certifications that authorize one another, according to an article by Tomsguide.com. For CPBJ, the primary certification is ISRG Root X1, a certificate issued by Let’s Encrypt, a free, automated and open certificate authority founded in 2015. 

Because of Let’s Encrypt’s recently new footing as a commonly used certificate authority, ISRG Root X1 relies on an older certificate, known as DST Root CA X3 to translate ISRG to older devices. This week, DST Root CA X3 expired, meaning that any site using that certification or ISRG can no longer appear on those devices. 

A workaround for this problem is using the browser Mozilla Firefox while on the web, since Firefox does not use the same security certificates as other browsers. However, that method will not work for any apps that use the expired certificate. 

“If I had to boil it down its mostly Apple devices — iPhones and some older mac devices,” said Fields. “The hope is that Apple gets this resolved for any devices that they can update. Some of these older devices that can’t run anything over iOS 9, I don’t believe Apple is patching those.” 

Some devices may have workarounds, but most users facing this problem will most likely need to invest in a new device, said Fields. “Unfortunately this is one of those times where you might have to bite the bullet and buy a new device,” he said.