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Let’s Encrypt issues one billionth free certificate – Naked Security


Last week was a big one for non-profit digital certificate project Let’s Encrypt – it issued its billionth certificate. It’s a symbolic milestone that shows how important this free certificate service has become to web users.

Publicly announced in November 2014, Let’s Encrypt offers TLS certificates for free. These certificates are integral to the encryption used by HTTPS websites.

HTTPS is HTTP that uses the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol for privacy and authentication. Your browser uses it to be confident that you’re not visiting an evil website that’s impersonating your real destination using a DNS spoofing attack. It also encrypts the information passing between your browser and the web server so that someone who can snoop on your traffic still can’t tell what you’re doing.

Netscape created HTTPS in 1994, but in 2014 a minority of websites used it. That’s because it could be technically difficult to implement, it was time consuming and it cost money. There was too much friction. That’s what Let’s Encrypt set out to change.

The project is a non-profit effort from the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG), an organisation sponsored by a mixture of privacy advocates and those who benefit from making the online ecosystem healthier. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a sponsor, along with Cisco, Facebook, Google, the Internet Society (which houses the Internet Engineering Task Force or IETF), Mozilla, and French cloud service provider OVH.

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