Let’s Encrypt certificates are free under public beta

Web publishers no longer need an invite to get one of Let’s Encrypt’s free certificates to enable an encrypted connection between browsers and their website.

The project announced it had moved to public beta today, meaning that any website publisher who wants a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate can get it at no charge from the Let’s Encrypt Certificate Authority (CA). The point of the project is to encourage more websites to enable HTTPS — often signalled by a padlock in the browser address bar — by removing cost barriers.

Let’s Encrypt launched a little over a year ago with the backing by Firefox-maker Mozilla and the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF), and may when it moves out of beta provide an alternative to giant CAs like GoDaddy and Symantec.

Sites that have enabled HTTPS require a certificate, which can be expensive, however the price of them is likely a smaller cost than the managing them.

Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, a senior staff technologist at EFF, said the main obstacle Let’s Encrypt will overcome is the difficulty of installing and maintaining certificates.

“Most CAs today charge for certificates. While some are very cheap, every dollar of expense means a large swath of people who can't afford to host a secure website. The larger barrier, though, is difficulty,” wrote Hoffman-Andrews.

“Once someone has purchased a certificate, they need to install it on their website, a time consuming and error-prone process that requires significant technical skill, which is a cost in itself. Let's Encrypt is not only free but also automated, in order to make HTTPS encryption more accessible than ever.”

Perhaps threatened by the project, GoDaddy recently published a page highlighting the key differences between a free SSL certificate and its paid certificates, claiming that the only similarity is that both group’s certificates use 2048-bit encryption.

The free SSL certificate project as of today counts as Facebook as a supporter, which joined existing supporters Akamai, Cisco and the Internet Society, among others.

“Making it easier for websites to deploy HTTPS encryption is an important step in improving the security of the whole internet, and Facebook is proud to support this effort,” said Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos, commenting on its new sponsorship.

Let’s Encrypt issued its first certificate in September and its certificates are trusted by all major browsers thanks to “cross-signatures” it gained from IdenTrust, a CA supporter.

Let’s Encrypt said it had issued over 26,000 certificates during its private beta. While the project is more confident about its systems, Josh Aas, ISRG executive director, said it needed to improve automation features before moving out of beta.

"We have more work to do before we’re comfortable dropping the beta label entirely, particularly on the client experience. Automation is a cornerstone of our strategy, and we need to make sure that the client works smoothly and reliably on a wide range of platforms. We’ll be monitoring feedback from users closely, and making improvements as quickly as possible," said Aas.


Participate in CSO and Gigamon's survey on Security Priorities today!

Go into the draw for a chance to win an Apple iWatch Sports or the equivalent of $500 Visa Cashcard.
For full terms and conditions click here.

Start survey NOW!


Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificateFirefox-maker MozillaLet's EncryptFree SSL certHTTPSGoDaddycertificate authority (CA)CSO Australia

More about AppleCiscoCSOEFFFacebookGigamonGoDaddyMozillaSymantecVisa

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Liam Tung

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place