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The Internet Blackout: A Situation That Could Affect Many

Saharay Perez Bautista
3 min read
The Internet Blackout: A Situation That Could Affect Many – Technology
Internet blackout on September 30, 2021

Surprisingly, this Thursday, September 30, a key element for the network connection of computers, mobile devices, Internet browsers and even video game consoles will expire. This is the so-called “Internet blackout” that, according to estimates, could occur anywhere in the world.

In this sense, it consists of the extinction of a root certificate that is known as "IdentTrust DST Root CA X3" and serves as a kind of link key between a device (computer or mobile) and the Internet, thus guaranteeing that the connections are encrypted.

However, it has an expiration date and time of September 30 at 14:01 GMT, specifically.

Now, if you have a modern and up-to-date device, you shouldn't worry about running out of Internet on your computer this Thursday. Since, keeping the operating system of a device updated allows these certificates to be up to date, because it takes care of replacing those that are about to disappear.

But, why do the certificates expire?

Although it is true, there are certificate authorities (both public and private) that focus on evaluating and validating the security of the connections of all devices with the Internet.

Therefore, to achieve the necessary protection, they handle this type of certificates with an expiration date and are in charge of renewing or revoking them, depending on their inherence.

As a consequence, once the root CA has expired, customers will not be able to trust the certificates issued by the company and, furthermore, they will not have their protection.

Noting that, years ago, these situations have generated problems for computers that have outdated operating systems.

A clear example of this occurred on May 30, 2020 when a certificate from the AddTrust firm expired and automatically caused failures for services of the Roku online television system.

Reason why, it caused notable complaints from customers and even generated mistrust.

Who will be the main affected by the Internet blackout?

The Internet Blackout: A Situation That Could Affect Many – Technology
Affected by the internet blackout

Unfortunately, all those devices that have outdated operating systems will be unable to connect to the network as of this September 30.

In particular, factory computer systems that never connect to the Internet or smartphones that are not connected by a Wi-Fi network or have been updated in more than 5 years.

Now, although nothing will happen to most devices in the world, the truth is that there is a set of computers that can only trust the "IdenTrust DST Root CA X3" certificate launched in 2000 and with an expiration date. September 30, 2021. Among those devices, the following are listed:

· Android phones with the version prior to Nougat 7.1.1.

· IPhone phones that operate with a system prior to iOS 10 (it should be noted that the iPhone is the oldest version that can install it).

· Computers with Windows XP SP3.

· Computers with an operating system prior to Ubuntu 16.04.

· MackBooks with the predecessor of MacOS 2016.

· PlayStation 3 consoles that use firmware and Nintendo 3DS.

· Computers that use OpenSSL, Java 8, Java 7, NNS and the Debian system.

· The Firefox browser with a version lower than 50.

· BlackBerry phones with versions prior to 10.3.3.

· Kindle book readers below version 3.4.1.