Don’t Be Alarmed

When you click on the link at the bottom of this page you will be taken to the Student Application Process. However, your browser will probably warn you that the server on which this process resides has an “invalid security certificate.” This is because our certificate is “self-signed,” (as it says in the Firefox warning) meaning that we created the certificate ourselves, and did not pay big bucks for one of the big “trusted certificate authorities” to make it for us, nor did they give us one for free.

The reason we need this certificate is to encrypt, and hence protect, your private personal information while it is passing over the Internet between your browser and our server. This is for your security. You can, if you want, remove the little “s” in “https://...” but we strongly advise against this action. It’s your privacy at stake.

Here is what the warning message will look like if you use Firefox:

Firefox failure message

or if you use Internet Explorer:

IE failure message

These messages are normal and expected. (That’s why we added that text into the images.) Here’s what you need to do in order to get past these messages and on to the Application:

If you use Firefox If you use Internet Explorer
  1. Click on “Or you can add an exception...”
  2. Two buttons will appear. Click on “Add Exception...”
  3. Within the dialog box that appears, click on “Get Certificate”
  4. You can view the certificate if you want, but you'll simply find our information within that certificate
  5. You can leave the option to “Permanently store this exception” selected or not selected. If you do not select “Permanently,” then the next time you visit the Application System, you’ll have to go through this process again.
  6. Click on the button “Confirm Security Exception.”
  7. The application will then be shown within your browser.
  1. Click on “Continue to this website,” even though IE recommends that you not do so.
  2. This will take you to the application, but IE will constantly color the location bar red as a continued warning to you that our site uses a self-signed certificate instead of one signed by an organization IE trusts.
  3. You can avoid the red bar by importing this certificate into IE’s certificate store through, successively,
    • Tools
    • Internet Options
    • Content
    • Certificates
    • Import...

If you use a different browser (e.g., Safari, Opera, Chrome, ...) just follow the general principle above of either telling your browser to go to the application process anyway, or importing the security certificate so you don’t have to worry about it any further.

Ready?

If you’re ready to handle those complicated directions above, then it’s time to

Start The Application

California State Science Fair / Explanation of Security Certificate / CalifSF@usc.edu