Are You Getting The Safari Can't Establish A Secure Connection Error? 5 Fixes!

Daisy Raines

Jul 22, 2022 • Filed to: Tips for Different iOS Versions & Models • Proven solutions

It was just 15 years ago when Steve Jobs and Co. changed the world yet again with the introduction of what he called the launch of three devices, “an iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator,” rolled into one - the iPhone. The world was only beginning to warm up to the internet, the speeds of which were still at 56 kilobits per second - dialup level. A lot has happened in 15 years. We have 5G today, and Wi-Fi 6. We live and breathe the internet today, in a way we never thought possible. Every aspect of our lives is ‘connected’ today. Launching web browsers and browsing websites is nearly second nature today, we do not give second thoughts to it anymore. So what happens when your coasting is interrupted by a ‘Safari Can’t Establish A Secure Connection’ error? What does it mean that Safari could not establish a secure connection?

Part I: What Is The ‘Safari Cannot Establish A Secure Connection’ Error?

safari cant open the page error

To understand the ‘Safari Cannot Establish A Secure Connection’ error, you need to have an idea of internet protocols. Here goes.

When the internet was designed, it was designed merely as a way to access information anywhere and everywhere. The protocol used was (and still is) HTTP, short for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. This ‘http’ is what you type in your web browsers, remember? Though browsers today do that on your behalf so you might not be typing it yourself, but that is beside the point. HTTP has worked ever since. No harm, no foul.

With the internet becoming more and more ubiquitous, a need was felt to secure the HTTP protocol so that data could be safe from unwanted, prying eyes. Data such as your banking passwords, your login information, etc. What happened? HTTPS came to be.

HTTPS, or Secure HTTP, is the new standard. It uses SSL or Secure Socket Layer to safeguard data packets from prying eyes. While initially it was only the most security-conscious enterprises that were using SSL and HTTPS for customers, today it is considered ‘uncool’ and unsafe if your website uses only HTTP, not HTTPS. HTTPS, for all purposes, is the new default protocol for accessing websites on the internet.

But that is not all there is to it. Oftentimes, this safety must be or is chosen to be enforced upon users. This means that a website server configured in a way to accept only secure connections will throw an error if anyone tries to access the server using the unsecured HTTP protocol. This method is called HSTS, short for HTTP Strict Transport Security. With this enabled, the server will only serve HTTPS requests. This is also a standard that is fast gaining wide usage, especially those websites and portals that cater to users with logins and passwords. This means, most websites you know and access, such as Facebook, Twitter, your banking portals, etc. And what happens when you try to access websites that are set to deliver HTTPS-only over regular old HTTP or if for some reason your web browser was unable to connect to the website securely? You guessed it!

Safari could not establish a secure connection to the server, and it will show you the ‘Safari cannot open the page’ error.

Part II: Why Safari Could Not Establish A Secure Connection To The Server?

Now that we know what is the ‘Safari Cannot Establish A Secure Connection’ error about, let’s dive into why exactly Safari could not establish a secure connection to the server so that we can figure out how to fix this ‘Safari cannot open the page’ due to secure connection error.

Long back with Mac OS X 10.10.4 (Yosemite) and iOS 8.4 onwards, Apple implemented security enhancements in Safari to protect users when accessing websites with certain security vulnerabilities. What would Safari do in that case? You guessed it again!

Safari will show a message that ‘Safari cannot open the page’ as it uses weak encryption or, what is common today, Safari will show the ‘Safari Can’t Establish A Secure Connection’ error.

Part III: How Do I Know If Safari Established A Secure Connection?

Although seems simple enough that if Safari opened a website at all, it means a secure connection was established, Apple does provide a way to make sure and get more details if you want to. Here’s how to check if Safari established a secure connection to the website you want to visit:

Step 1: Launch Safari and go to your favorite website. Ours is https://drfone.wondershare.com

how to check safari secure connection

Step 2: Now, see that lock after the URL? That shows that Safari was able to establish a secure connection to the website. You can click the lock for more details.

click lock for secure connection details

Step 3: Clicking the lock brings a popup like the above. It speaks in plain language that Safari is using an encrypted connection and mentions the website URL. If you want to check the certificate details, you can click Show Certificate to see the certificate the particular website is using.

security certificate details

That’s right! DigiCert is one of the most trusted certifying authorities in the world, it only serves us right that we use the best out there to safeguard our beloved customers’ privacy!

Now, the internet today is also filled with adverts and trackers thanks to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram along with online advertising players like Google Ads and others. You might already be using privacy protection measures such as content blockers, or ad blockers famously. If you are not, you should! Back to topic, if you are, it is possible that your ad blocker is utilizing its own certificate for filtering HTTPS connections on your device so that it can provide you with maximum security. One such blocker, for example, is Adguard, which uses its own certificate. Why are we mentioning this? Because, if you are, you will see the certificate issuing authority as Adguard instead of the actual authority (DigiCert, in our case).

safari secure connection by adguard

What? What is that? How? Let’s explain. SSL works to establish a secure connection between clients and servers. Servers are configured to offer secure connections, and clients (your web browsers) are configured to receive and request secure connections. For a server to check if the client supports secure connections among other things takes a performance hit, though negligible to the user's eye. But when processing millions of requests, this time quickly adds up as overhead for processors and resources, which should be optimized if possible. To improve this performance, client-side certificates are used to make sure that connections are secure, and content is just passed through without the server checking the client for necessary permissions and security. Tools such as Adguard are using the client-side certificate, residing on your computer alone, for this purpose. Hence, Safari shows you that the certificate was issued by Adguard, for example. In the absence of such a certificate on the client, the necessary security checks are made by the server, and Safari pulls data from the server to show you that the certificate was issued by DigiCert.

Part IV: 5 Ways to Fix ‘Safari Cannot Establish A Secure Connection’ Error

“My Safari can’t establish a secure connection to the server, what can I do to fix the issue?” There are a few things you can do to fix the Safari can’t establish a secure connection to the server issue quickly as there can be a few simple reasons why you got that error.

Fix 1: Check URL Entered

One of the most common mistakes to happen to people unknowingly is typing incorrect URLs in the browser and having another website opened - or not. DNS providers such as OpenDNS have a service that helps users by redirecting them to their intended URL automatically for some commonly used websites such as social media and others. Check your entered URL for any spelling mistakes and go over it again. It should be fixed. 

Fix 2: Set System Date And Time Correctly

Oftentimes, office computers and even home computers used to be neglected when it came to system time, that was because the batteries in their motherboard were dead, and companies and home users didn’t bother to replace them since it didn’t matter much for their work. That issue is more or less resolved now, but still, checking if the date and time are set correctly is more important than ever today, since security relies on it now. Certificates have an expiration date now, and if your computer is set to a date too far back or in the future, you might face the ‘Safari Can’t Establish A Secure Connection’ error as security parameters are invalid.

Step 1: Go to System Preferences > Date & Time

set date and time macos

Step 2: Make sure the date and time are set to update automatically as follows:

set date and time macos

To make changes to the checkbox, you will have to click the lock and enter your user admin password to proceed. Remember to lock the lock again.

Fix 3: Check Ad Blocker/Antivirus/ Firewall Preferences

Nowadays everyone is using a content blocker, as is recommended to filter out the incredible number of nuisances you will face otherwise. It is possible that the website you are trying to visit has a conflict with the ad blocker in some way and Safari could not establish a secure connection to the server. Temporarily disabling the ad blocker should resolve the issue.

The same goes for antivirus and firewall software, wherein they are not expected to work 100% with any and all websites. It is simply not possible, and they might be failing to work with a website that you want to visit. You have a choice to either disable the software temporarily while you visit the websites or to add the website(s) to the list of exceptions in these software.

Fix 4: Trust A Certificate

For websites that you trust but somehow Safari does not, you might consider trusting the certificate the website uses so that Safari stops bugging you about it every time you visit the website. Here’s how to trust a certificate in Safari:

Step 1: On the websites where the certificate error is causing Safari to not establish a connection and show the website, the following error is displayed:

connection not private error safari

Step 2: Click Show Details.

details about safari certificate connection

Step 3: In the last line, you will see a hyperlink to view the certificate. Click it.

trusting a certificate in safari

Step 4: Now, you will see the details of the certificate. Click Trust to expand the dropdown.

always trust certificate option in safari

Step 4: Now, from the dropdown, select Always Trust and proceed.

Fix 5: Disable IPv6 To Resolve Issues

IPv6 is the newer internet protocol succeeding IPv4, the one that you are likely familiar with, that uses digits. For example, the Google DNS IP address is 8.8.8.8. This is an IPv4 address. The boom on the internet has brought IPv4 to its limits, with this system only able to account for only over 4 billion possible addresses. The newer IPv6 uses hex digits that solve this problem but create another, as in, the new IPv6 is still far from universal, mainstream adoption. That can create issues with certificates sometimes, so it might be helpful to disable IPv6 and see if that resolves your ‘Safari Can’t Establish A Secure Connection’ error.

Step 1: Go to System Preferences > Network > Wi-Fi > Advanced

Step 2: Go to TCP/IP

set ipv6 automatically

Step 3: From the dropdown, set IPv6 to configure automatically.

Conclusion

Getting the ‘Safari Cannot open the page’ error due to Safari cannot establish a secure connection can feel like the brakes were slammed at 200 mph. Here you are, browsing the internet and suddenly the website you want to visit gives you the ‘Safari Can’t Establish A Secure Connection’ error. Fortunately, there are ways you can fix this issue and we hope the above-listed ways helped you fix the ‘Safari could not establish a secure connection to the server’ error and get browsing again!

Daisy Raines

Daisy Raines

staff Editor

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