Bon anniversaire, Let’s Encrypt!
The free-to-use non-profit, backed by Akamai, Google, Facebook, Mozilla and more, and founded by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has turned three years old.
As of its birthday Friday, it’s issued more than 380 million certificates on close to 130 million unique domains, and now secures 75 percent of the web, according to public Firefox data. That’s a massive increase from when it was founded, where only 38 percent of website page loads were served over an HTTPS encrypted connection.
That also makes it the largest certificate issuer in the world by far.
“Change at that speed and scale is incredible,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Let’s Encrypt isn’t solely responsible for this change, but we certainly catalyzed it.”
HTTPS is what keeps the pipes of the web secure. Every time your browser lights up in green or flashes a padlock, it’s a TLS certificate encrypting the connection between your computer and the website, ensuring nobody can intercept and steal your data or modify the website.
But for years, the certificate market was broken, expensive, and difficult to navigate. In an effort to “encrypt the web,” the EFF and others banded together to bring free TLS certificates to the masses.
That means bloggers, single-page websites, and startups alike can get an easy-to-install certificate for free — even news sites like TechCrunch rely on Let’s Encrypt for a secure connection. Security experts and encryption advocates Scott Helme and Troy Hunt last month found that more than half of the top million websites by traffic are on HTTPS.
And as it’s grown, the certificate issuer has become trusted by the major players — including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and more.
A fully encrypted web is still a way off. But with close to a million Let’s Encrypt certificates issued each day, it looks more within reach than ever.