Barack Obama’s SSL certificate, NASA and NIST among those to fall as government shutdown hits sites

Graham Cluley

Barack ObamaThe United States government has begun a partial shutdown, after Congress failed to approve funding for government operations. It’s obviously a huge news story if you live in America, but it also has an impact on the web for the rest of the world’s surfers too.

As Netcraft reports, among those who have suffered is Barack Obama himself. His website at https://www.barackobama.com may still be up and running, but no-one has paid for his SSL certificate to be renewed.

Barack Obama SSL warning

The certificate for this website is invalid. You might be connecting to a website that is pretending to be “barackobama.com”, which could put your confidential information at risk.

Of course, Barack Obama’s website has nothing to do with Federal government, so any blame pointed at the shutdown is surely mischief making.

The same cannot be said of other sites which are experiencing issues.

For instance, NIST – the National Institute of Standards and Technology – has a stark message on the front of its website at http://nist.gov/

NIST website

NIST Closed, NIST and Affiliated Web Sites Not Available

Due to a lapse in government funding, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is closed and most NIST and affiliated web sites are unavailable until further notice. We sincerely regret the inconvenience.

One of the NIST websites impacted is the Computer Security Resource Center (CSRC) at http://csrc.nist.gov, although services such as the National Vulnerability Database and NIST Internet Time Service websites would continue to be available.

While NASA’s 55th birthday celebrations are turning into something of a damp squib, with its site currently redirecting to a generic statement at http://notice.usa.gov

NASA notice

Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available.
We sincerely regret this inconvenience.

Although thousands of NASA staff are being told to stay at home and not show up at work, that advice fortunately doesn’t apply to the astronauts currently orbiting the Earth in the International Space Station. (Although they won’t be tweeting)

NASA's Twitter shuts down

Lets hope that any security-related work being done to harden these websites from malicious attack was not interrupted by the government shutdown, and fingers crossed that no new critical patches come out that are needed to protect them from exploits and hackers.

At least the animals at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo can relax. They no longer need to smile for their webcams.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

4 Replies to “Barack Obama’s SSL certificate, NASA and NIST among those to fall as government shutdown hits sites”

  1. Seems a configuration problem. https://www.barackobama.com/ is working nicely with a COMODO certificate.

  2. Agree with the previous anonymous commenter. The main site
    uses a Comodo certificate, issued 10/30/2012 and doesn't
    expire until 10/31/2013;
    http://toolbar.netcraft.com/site_report?url=https://www.barackobama.com
    though the cert for my.barackobama.com was replaced today. It is
    very rare for anyone to let it go until the day of expiration to
    replace a certificate, but it happens. They upgraded the cert to a
    Trustwave:
    http://toolbar.netcraft.com/site_report?url=https://my.barackobama.com
    Graham, since when don't you personally verify facts
    before posting them? Now if you want to report on what a disgrace
    it is that our President's personal domain is registered
    through GoDaddy…now *that* would be an article worth
    reading.

  3. Hi Graham, It is Nov 1 and dot.gov is normally up including
    nasa and nist. Guess Halloween brought some candy fundings
    ;)

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