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article imageOculus forgot to renew a certificate, bricked every Rift headset

By James Walker     Mar 8, 2018 in Technology
Every Oculus Rift VR headset temporarily stopped working today after the Facebook-owned company forgot to renew a security certificate. Oculus has since released an update to restore impacted Rifts, but owners will need to download and apply it manually.
The issue was first reported by owners on the Oculus forums yesterday. As more reports came in, it emerged that all headsets in use around the world were impacted by the problem. After connecting the device to a computer, the Oculus software would report an "Oculus Runtime Service" error and refuse to launch.
Technically minded users discovered the outage was caused by an out-of-date security certificate. One of Oculus' software libraries was covered by a signature valid until March 7, 2018. The certificate is used to verify the authenticity of the software.
When the certificate expired, the program was unable to confirm its integrity and rejected the out-of-date signature. Users were able to mitigate the problem by setting their system clocks back a few days, tricking the device into thinking the signature was still valid.
Oculus quickly acknowledged the issues and has now released a software patch. Since the Oculus software can't currently launch, owners have to manually download and install the update from the Oculus support site.
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After it's been applied, the Oculus app will start functioning again and will proceed to download another patch. Once that's installed, the Rift should be fully operational. Oculus warned that antivirus software may need to be disabled before the downloaded file can be run.
Although the outage was relatively short-lived, it will have affected thousands of people around the world. While many of the impacted users were individuals wanting to consume VR content, others will have been creatives and developers using the Rift at work. Studios building new applications for the Rift may have struggled to work as effectively without access to the physical hardware.
In a tweet, Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell apologised for the "mistake." Thanking customers for their patience, he confirmed that everyone affected will be issued with a free credit for the Oculus Store. In a later statement emailed to customers, the company provided promotional codes for $15 to spend at the Store. The credit will be applied within seven days.
Oculus is far from the first company to experience downtime caused by expired security certificates. While certificates help to protect the integrity of software, they can cause unwanted problems for end users if they manage to expire. Companies impacted by similar problems in the past include Microsoft, Google, Instagram and Sage Pay, with each incident causing significant business disruption.
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