GlobalSign Blog

02 Jun 2017

How to View SSL Certificate Details in Each Browser and What You Can Learn

It seems more and more of the general population is starting to take notice of SSL. They expect websites to use it (and are quick to point out when they’re not). I’m excited that people are recognizing when a site uses SSL and I’m eager to take that knowledge even further. Beyond just triggering the padlock and HTTPS in browsers, there’s quite a bit more going on within the details of an SSL Certificate.

What Can You Learn from Digging into the Certificate Details?

There’s a lot of information in a certificate, including basic things like:

  • Validity Period
  • Issuing Certificate Authority (CA)
  • Subject (the domain it was issued to and depending on the type of certificate, identifying information about the company operating the site)

Certificate contents also cover technical aspects, such as:

  • Key Usage,
  • CRL Information,
  • Signing and Hashing Algorithms Underlying the Encryption

This information can be found from right within your browser! Clearly, the importance of these things is going to vary person to person and I don’t expect everyone to start diving into the certificate of every site they visit, but I do want to raise awareness that this type of information exists and how to find it. So let’s get to it.

How to View SSL Certificate Details

Since browsers are updated fairly regularly and SSL presentation in particular is currently undergoing quite a lot of change, I will be updating the sections below as new versions are released.

Chrome (v.58)

Before Chrome 55 (released in Dec 2016), there used to be a quick link to view certificate details right from the main browser interface. Clicking the padlock in the URL triggered a dropdown with a link that would bring you right to the certificate details pop-up. Rumor on the street is that this functionality may be returning in Chrome 60, but until then, here’s how you can get the scoop on a site’s certificate while in Chrome.

1. Click the three vertical dots to the right of the address bar. Go to “More tools” and select “Developer tools”. Note: you can also get here by pressing F12.

chrome- how to view ssl certificate details

2. This will bring up the developer tools window. Select the “Security” tab. Here you’ll see a high level security overview, including the validity status of the certificate, some details of the protocol, cipher and key exchange underlying the connection and whether the resources on the page are served securely.

chrome developer tools: ssl certificate inspection

Security tab for EV Certificate in Chrome

3. To view the certificate details, click the button “View Certificate” (shocking, I know). Now you can click through to your heart’s content. Certificate contents (e.g. subject, validity period, algorithms) are on the “Details” tab.

certificate details

Certificate details in Chrome

Firefox (v.53)

The latest version of Firefox provides a little more information about the certificate directly in the main browser interface, with the ability to dive into further details with just a few clicks.

1. Clicking the padlock in the address bar brings up a preliminary dropdown that indicates a secure connection when properly configured SSL is in place.

firefox: ssl certificate details

EV Certificate in Firefox

2. Clicking the arrow in this dropdown brings up more information about the certificate. In the case of Extended Validation (EV) Certificates, you can see some identifying information about the organization operating the site. For non-EV Certificates (Domain Validated and Organization Validated), you will only see which Certificate Authority (CA) issued the certificate - the “Verified by:” section at the bottom of the pop-up.

ev certificates in firefox

EV Certificate in Firefox

non ev certificate in firefox

Non-EV (OV) Certificate in Firefox

3. Clicking “More Information” at the bottom of the pop up links you to the security details of the page, where you’ll find more information about the website identity (for EV Certificates, the company name will be listed as the owner) and the protocols, ciphers and keys underlying the encryption.

Page Info of a site using EV in Firefox

Page info of a site using EV in Firefox

4. If you want even more details about the certificate (and who doesn’t?), just click “View Certificate.” On the “Details” tab, you’ll find the certificate hierarchy and can dig through the certificate fields. Have fun!

Certificate details in Firefox

Certificate details in Firefox

Internet Explorer (v.11)

Like Firefox, IE provides some certificate information from the main interface.

1. Clicking the padlock brings up the issuing CA (“GlobalSign has identified this site as:”) and a note that the connection to the server is encrypted. There is also some identifying information but again this varies between EV vs. non-EV (DV or OV) Certificates. EV Certificates contain the company name and location, while DV and OV only show the domain.

EV Certificate in IE

EV Certificate in IE

Non-EV (OV) Certificate in IE

Non-EV (OV) Certificate in IE

2. Clicking the “View Certificates” link at the bottom of the pop up takes you right to the certificate details window. Similar to Chrome, certificate contents (e.g. subject, validity period, algorithms) are on the “Details” tab.

Certificate details window in IE

Certificate details window in IE

So there you have it; now you can dive into certificates no matter what browser you’re using. Happy inspecting and safe and secure browsing!

Note: I don’t currently have access to Edge or Safari, but I will expand this post if and when I can get my hands on them. Also as I said above, I will try and keep this post updated with the latest browser versions, but if you see I’ve fallen behind, please feel free to give me a friendly nudge in the comments.

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