Plex gave its users an important security upgrade last week. The home media streaming platform announced all its users are getting free SSL certificates, enabling them to connect to their media over an encrypted HTTPS connection. The new feature is a partnership with certificate authority DigiCert. Plex says the project is "one of the largest implementations of publicly trusted certificates, ever."
The new Plex feature isn't just for Plex Plus subscribers who pay $5 per month to get a host of different features. Even free users will get the added security. The certificates work whether you are accessing a Plex media server remotely or over your local network.
Anyone using Plex just has to update their Plex server to version 0.9.12.3, the latest release at this writing. Then make sure you're signed in to your Plex account. Next, under Settings > Server > Network ensure that Secure connections is enabled. Once that's done the SSL feature should start working when you visit app.plex.tv. If it still doesn't work try rebooting your media server.
Even though your server has an SSL certificate, it currently works to create an encrypted connection with specific Plex apps. You can get a trusted HTTPS connection on Android, Plex Home Theater, Plex Web App, Roku (preview app), Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone.
Anyone using Plex apps on a gaming console, smart TV, or iOS will have to wait for updates in the coming weeks.
Why this matters: Trusted SSL certificates from a certificate authority are typically expensive, but without the blessing of an authority an SSL certificate isn't much use---browsers and apps know to trust authorities and not your homemade SSL certificates. A trusted certificate is also what gives you that green lock icon you see in your browser. It's fantastic that Plex has taken away the hassle for users who are connecting to their personal trove of music, movies, and photos by adding an SSL certificate for free. It's important enough to connect to your online accounts using HTTPS, but that goes double for connections to a Plex server sitting in your home.