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Jan 08, 2021 2 mins

Resolving ‘Error: SSL Error: SELF_SIGNED_CERT_IN_CHAIN’ in npm

Error SSL Error Error SSL Error

When working with Node.js and npm, encountering SSL errors, such as 'Error SSL Error SELF_SIGNED_CERT_IN_CHAIN,' can be a common frustration. This error typically arises when npm attempts to connect to a server that is using a self-signed SSL certificate. Self-signed certificates pose security risks, and npm rejects connections to such servers. In this article, we will explore the causes of this error and provide various solutions to address it.

Causes of the SSL Error

The primary cause of the ‘SELF_SIGNED_CERT_IN_CHAIN’ error is the use of a self-signed SSL certificate on the server you are trying to connect to. Self-signed certificates lack validation from a trusted certificate authority, making them insecure for secure connections. npm, in its default configuration, enforces strict SSL checks to protect users from potential security threats.

Solutions to the SSL Error

  1. Configure npm to Allow Self-signed Certificates
    One quick workaround is to configure npm to allow connections to servers with self-signed certificates. However, this approach comes with a trade-off in terms of security. To implement this solution, open your terminal and enter the following command:
    bash npm config set strict-ssl false
    Disabling strict SSL checks should be done with caution, especially in production environments, as it exposes your system to potential security vulnerabilities.

  2. Install a Valid SSL Certificate
    If you have control over the server, it is highly recommended to obtain a valid SSL certificate from a recognized certificate authority. Valid certificates ensure secure and encrypted connections between the server and clients. If obtaining a valid certificate is not feasible, consider installing the self-signed certificate on your machine. Each operating system has specific steps for installing certificates, and you should follow the guidelines accordingly.

  3. Use an HTTP Registry
    If the registry you are using supports both HTTP and HTTPS, consider switching to the HTTP version of the registry as a temporary solution. For example, change your registry URL from:
    https://registry.npmjs.org/
    to
    http://registry.npmjs.org/
    This avoids the SSL checks and might help you fetch packages without encountering the self-signed certificate error.

  4. Update npm and Node.js
    Outdated versions of npm and Node.js may have known issues related to SSL connections. Ensure you are using the latest versions to benefit from improvements and bug fixes. You can update npm using the following command:
    bash npm install -g npm
    For updating Node.js, visit the official Node.js website and download the latest version suitable for your platform.

Result

After implementing one of the above solutions, you should be able to resolve the ‘SELF_SIGNED_CERT_IN_CHAIN’ error in npm. Keep in mind that each solution has its implications, and choosing the most suitable one depends on your specific use case.

Conclusion

SSL errors can be challenging to deal with, but understanding the root cause and available solutions makes the troubleshooting process more manageable. When faced with the ‘SELF_SIGNED_CERT_IN_CHAIN’ error in npm, carefully consider the security implications of each solution. While temporarily disabling strict SSL checks may provide a quick fix, it is essential to prioritize obtaining valid SSL certificates for your servers. Always stay updated with the latest versions of npm and Node.js to benefit from ongoing improvements in security and functionality. By following these guidelines, you can navigate SSL-related issues with npm more effectively and ensure a secure development environment.


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