Let’s Encrypt, a Certificate Authority (CA) managed by a non-profit organization whose members include Mozilla and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, among others, reached a milestone of 100 million issued certificates.
Encrypting the Web
The Let’s Encrypt members started out with the goal to encrypt as much of the web as possible. The performance overhead of HTTPS encryption has been dramatically reduced over the past few years, especially after the release of the faster HTTP/2 standard. Therefore, not using it because it slowed down website connections wasn’t a good excuse anymore. However, not too many developers, especially those just starting out, were in a hurry to encrypt their websites, because it still cost a non-trivial amount of money every year.
Let’s Encrypt aimed to change this by not only offering completely free digital certificates, but also by automatically renewing them every 90 days, to increase security in case some certificates are stolen by malicious hackers or nation states. This automated process also made the installing a new certificate hassle-free for website administrators.
One Hundred Million Certificates Milestone
When Let’s Encrypt’s service was first made available, less than 40% of the web was using HTTPS encryption, a milestone that took 20 years to reach, according to the nonprofit. Let’s Encrypt has been available for less than two years, and due largely to its free service, 58% of the web now uses HTTPS encryption.
The nonprofit hopes to make 100% of the web encrypted as soon as possible and to issue the next 100 million certificates even faster. To achieve these goals, the organization is encouraging people to contribute code or make donations. Companies can also become corporate sponsors by paying between $10,000 and $350,000 a year.