So, could this by my problem at Forbes?

As you know, I’ve a traffic problem at Forbes. Started Thursday evening. Traffic is down, down, down. Like 5% of normal.

And then there’s this:

GlobalSign has performed a postmortem examination on how, as one of the world’s root certificate authorities, it managed to break a chunk of the web.

The New Hampshire, US-based biz has to date sold 2.5 million SSL/TLS certificates to websites around the world. This week, it inadvertently smashed its own chain of trust: it effectively made its customers’ certs appear untrustworthy in the eyes of web browsers and apps globally.

This prevented many people from being able to access secure websites and online services large and small, from Wikipedia and the Financial Times to GlobalSign’s own servers.

The accidental cockup hasn’t affected everyone: if your computer, phone or some other gadget was among the unlucky ones to fetch a dodgy revocation list from GlobalSign’s network on Thursday, October 13, your browser will stop you from accessing legit HTTPS websites. That’s because your browser has been told GlobalSign-issued encryption certificates are no longer valid.

Someone with rather more technical knowledge than me is going to have to tell me whether this is the problem…..

21 thoughts on “So, could this by my problem at Forbes?”

  1. It’s almost certainly the problem. GlobalSign are big enough that it’s probably every website everywhere saw the same thing

  2. Ah! So thaaat’s why I couldn’t get into my own website. Didn’t need to waste that hour fruitlessly trying to find out WTF I’d ballsed up.

  3. It would be a problem if:

    1) Forbes used https links in its feeds (and other ingress points)

    and 2) Forbes’ https certificate was issued by GlobalSign

    The links in your Forbes RSS feeds look like plain http to me. Looking at https://www.forbes.com I do in fact get a “broken HTTPS” warning in Chrome, but I don’t see GlobalSign mentioned in the certificate. That doesn’t mean it’s not from them, they might be using a different business name. (The warning is because the name of the server serving the page doesn’t match the name in the certificate.)

    So I would suggest this is not in fact the cause of the reduced traffic problem.

  4. Possibly, and they’ve mucked up working around it:

    https://forbes.com is working, and redirects to http://www.forbes.com (non secure)

    https://www.forbes.com is issuing a certificate from the CDN host (akamai.net), as the names don’t match browsers/anti virus/anti malware will immediately block it as a potential phishing site. If you force your way through that (most people won’t) then it shows a blank page.

  5. Forbes own site is screwed. for the last week or two any time I go to their site I get a blank page, and after a minute or two a “Most interesting topics” list (which isnt) pops up.

    Sometimes you can get past this by leaving that window open and then clicking on the link again to open a new window.

    I suspect it is their landing page with fatuous quote of the day that is not working properly.

    Have you spoken to any of your fellow writers? They having the same problem?

  6. Interesting. If you just go ot forbes.com it bypasses the landing page and works.

    Once you get past the landing page, everything works

  7. Has Forbes relaxed their ad-blocker policy?

    After however long it’s been, Forbes is now working again – and whilst using a hosts file (ie whilst running an ad-blocker in effect). I’m no longer getting the “please switch your ad-blocker off” cover page?

  8. It does appear that the ad-blocker detection is turned off and the site doesn’t appear to use https.

    The reason traffic is falling is because the content is dire, I’ve just been there, I won’t be going back.

    I think it was better with the ads enabled, they took so long to load that I’d get bored and leave before any of the content was shown.

    Any site that has good content will attract visitors, if the quality is maintained then those visitors will be loyal.

  9. I have no idea what the content is like at Forbes outside of Tim’s work, the website is just so awful I avoid it.

  10. David – its OK, nothing special. Perhaps half dozen times a year an article will catch my interest beyond Tim’s postings.
    Don’t always agree with Tim but he does write OK and the subjects tend to be interesting.

  11. Bloke in Costa Rica

    The web monkeys at forbes.com need beating. It’s an utterly elementary task to configure secure certs correctly. Right now their wildcard cert is only working for Akamai-like domains. Pretty pathetic, and also a Red Alert grade fuckup that should have had their IT team doing absolutely nothing, including taking piss breaks, until they fixed it.

  12. There’s an article back at ElReg that talks about “with web pages needing several hundred K of data…” with most of the comments being “WTF!!! String up any web ‘designer’ that writes pages that need hundreds of K until they learn better”.

    What I’ve found is that most of these idiots write the page code on top-end machines plugged directly into their servers with no thought… no, ‘thought’ credits them with too much actual activity… no not-even-thought that their sites will be used by somebody other than them sat at their machine.

  13. Tim: short and direct answer is no, GlobalSign problem shouldn’t have any material affect on your Forbes articles’ ranking.
    That said, http://www.forbes.com broken SSL (due to the CDN not serving a cert for them) probably is hitting Forbes articles’ ranking generally, at least with Google, as since 2014 having a valid https URL has been an increasingly important ranking signal. Unlikely to have become an issue over such a short time though.
    There has been no recent Google major algorithm change since late September, per Moz: https://moz.com/google-algorithm-change.
    I did a quick check and you’re top hit for [congratulations to bolivarian socialism] so it’s not obvious that ranking by itself is the issue:
    https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=congratulations%20to%20bolivarian%20socialism

  14. I don’t read Tim’s stuff on Forbes so much mainly because of the awful site layout. As others have said, splitting an article across two pages? Why? And the “quote of the day” that you need to spend 5s reading before you can continue? Whoever came up with that hasn’t really understood people’s browsing habits.

  15. I usually click through as a tiny thanks to Monsieur Worstall for all the free stuff here. But it is a pain in the arse at times.

  16. Forbes has a landing page which gives you an asinine quote of the day. This page works like a login page. On your first attempt to access anything on the site, you get redirected here. Typically it has a “continue” button and/or will redirect you to the deeper link after 3-5 seconds. This appears to be broken. Now, I get an empty page without the continue link or redirection. Having opened that page and let it sit for a bit, I can then re-click on the original link and get straight to your page. I have tested this with non-Timmy pages at Forbes and get the same result. So the problem seems to be with Forbes, or at best with how forbes handle some configurations. My config has not changed (firefox on win). Check with your fellow writers, you wont be the only one.

  17. It’s not the GlobalSign thing, no. I suspect that it’s updates to the site that have caused it to tank out of the rankings. The massive amount of image data on each page giving it a Google PageSpeed Insights score of 0/100 for mobile and 33/100 for desktop probably explains it, as Google heavily penalise slow websites.

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