Some public wi-fi don't accept the certificate?

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My domain is:

I ran this command: n/a

It produced this output: n/a

My web server is (include version): Apache/2.4.29 (Ubuntu)

The operating system my web server runs on is (include version): Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS

My hosting provider, if applicable, is: n/a

I can login to a root shell on my machine (yes or no, or I don’t know): yes

I’m using a control panel to manage my site (no, or provide the name and version of the control panel): no

The version of my client is (e.g. output of certbot --version or certbot-auto --version if you’re using Certbot): certbot 0.31.0

I followed the certbot instructions and everything worked perfectly. The certs got installed and I’ve verified I get the nice lock icon and no warnings about certs. However, I’ve noticed on some public wi-fi networks (restaurants, etc.) browsers fail to connect. The browser doesn’t give a certificate error, it just says failed connection. This is interesting because in the past with my own certificate I would get the browser warning about a bad cert and would have the option to go on. Is this common?

What you are seeing is called a “captive portal.” The public WiFi is trying to serve a fake response for the first website you visit, in order to get you to log in. However, it can only do this on HTTP sites, not HTTPS sites. When you’re seeing this problem, I’d recommend navigating to an HTTP site, like Then you should get the log in page for the WiFi.

Normally this is a result of adding the “Strict-Transport-Security” header, but it looks like your site is not currently sending that header. I’m not sure why you’d be seeing this.

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I also like and


The behavior i’m seeing with the connection failing happens after connecting to whoever’s public network. Meaning, I have already been directed to their portal login page, have agreed to their policies, and can browse freely to other sites. After this, going to my site with the letsencrypt key doesn’t work. No error message from the browser, it’s not complaining about the key, browser just gets a connection failed/refused something like that.

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Hi @mjremijan

checking your domain you don’t have a http version / port 80.

Are you sure your browser tries to connect the https version?

Add a http port 80 with a redirect http -> https.

I only access via https. And yes I’m sure that i’m using https when attempting to connect.

I temporarily enabled port 80 in order for certbot to complete and do it’s thing. But I don’t want any 80 traffic so I disabled it again after certbot got my certs created.

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More than likely the is some (other) MiTM.
When using “pubilc WiFi” use “Private VPN”.

I actually recommend leaving port 80 open as a redirect to port 443 (HTTPS). This is how most major websites do it, even when they’ve fully migrated to HTTPS. There’s no harm in it, and it helps browsers find the correct version of the site in case someone forgets to type the https: at the beginning. I’ve written a documentation page explaining in more detail:

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This is not very useful, but it shows the issue. The screenshot clearly shows an https connection, however, the wi-fi i’m connected to doesn’t seem to allow the connection at all. I am 100% sure the server is running, accepting connections, and successfully connect with the letsencrypt certs because I get a valid browser lock icon without any cert warnings. But some wi-fi won’t allow the connection.

Perhaps the wi-fi connections are using some kind of censorship software and your site (or names in general?) is on the blacklist. Can you find another site that normally works for you and see if it’s also affected on the same wi-fi networks?

Have you done any troubleshooting?

  • Can you confirm the MAC address of your gateway is correct? (does it change?)
  • Have you confirmed DNS is resolving the name correctly?
  • Can you ping/tracert/traceroute to that IP?
  • Can you use a VPN through the WiFi? (and will that allow access to site?)

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