What causes the “This site can’t be reached” Chrome error & how you can fix it
The internet is full of many things: cat videos, pornography, questionable social media posts, and bad advice. Lots and lots of bad advice. Anytime you search for help with a browser error, you’re bound to wade into a pool that’s waist deep with highly-optimized SEO content that doesn’t actually answer the question properly. Or, if it does, but it then offers egregious advice on working around it.
The Google Chrome ERR_SSL_VERSION_INTERFERENCE (sometimes written “ERR SSL VERSION INTERFERENCE”) is a perfect example of this. Most of these garbage answers start off with some keyword stuffed boiler plate language about how common SSL errors are.
Shade aside, there aren’t “many reasons” for this problem. There’s one reason only. And, aside from adjusting their protocol version support, there’s nothing that a user could responsibly do to solve this problem. Advising anything else is patently irresponsible and should be punishable by flogging.
Why “ERR SSL VERSION INTERFERENCE” Appears in Chrome
The reason you get the “ERR_SSL_VERSION_INTERFERENCE” in Chrome is that the website you’re attempting to visit doesn’t support a mutually agreeable TLS protocol version. The most common iteration is one of you — either as the client or the server — is exclusively supporting TLS 1.3 and the other doesn’t support it at all.
TLS 1.3 is not backward compatible with former versions of the protocol. While this may initially seem like an oversight, it’s done quite a on purpose. Older versions are susceptible to oracle padding and downgrade attacks. The vast majority of the internet is still using TLS 1.2, but about 35-40% of the Alexa Top 100,000 have begun supporting TLS 1.3. The smart move would be to support both 1.2 and 1.3 until the latter achieves the right degree of proliferation.
Unfortunately, some sites have already turned off support for 1.2 in favor of 1.3. For most modern browsers, this won’t be an issue. But if you’re running an older version, or you don’t have support for 1.3 activated on your OS, you could run into this problem.
Fixing ERR_SSL_VERSION_INTERFERENCE for Web Users
Provided your browser supports TLS 1.3 and TLS 1.2 — and with Chrome, that’s actually a decision made on the OS level — there’s not anything you can do to fix this beside contacting the site owner. Some of the bad advice you might see with regard to solving this from the client side includes:
- Trying to reach the site in guest mode
- Clearing your cache and data
- Disable/Uninstall Security Programs
- Disable TLS 1.3
- Reset Chrome
The first two have absolutely no impact on this error. The next two are so egregiously bad as to actually pose a threat to anyone who heeds them. While resetting Chrome — or perhaps more appropriately uninstalling and then reinstalling it — might work, it means you had bigger problems than the ERR_SSL_VERSION_INTERFERENCE error if it does fix it.
Fixing ERR_SSL_VERSION_INTERFERENCE in Chrome If You’re a Site Owner
Chances are you’ve misconfigured your servers. The most likely explanation is you disabled version support for everything but TLS 1.3. This is very forward-looking of you but, ultimately, a little premature.
The other possibility is that you’re using an earlier version of TLS 1.3. It took 28 drafts to finally nail down TLS 1.3, but popular browsers and servers added support for it way before it was finished. Older versions don’t always play nicely. So, you might have TLS 1.3 enabled, but it’s an early build and you need to update the implementation.
Either way, it comes down to configuration.
Here’s some other advice:
- Check your SSL certificate
- Update your antivirus and firewall
Neither of these are all that likely to fix the issue — but, occasionally, they might. Most likely though, when you receive the “This site can’t be reached” or “ERR_SSL_VERSION_INTERFERENCE” message, you just need to reconfigure your server settings.
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