This month, the nonprofit certificate authority Let’s Encrypt issues 3 billion HTTPS certificates, marking a significant milestone.
In order to give websites the free SSL and TLS certificates required to enable HTTPS as well as encrypted communications, the Let’s Encrypt project was established in 2013. The company, which is supported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and is governed by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG), granted its first HTTPS certificate in September 2015 for none other than its own domain.
This Thursday, the ISRG said that Let’s Encrypt had issued its 3 billionth certificate earlier in the month and was now offering TLS to more than 309 million domains, a 12% increase from the previous year.
While it took Let’s Encrypt 5 years to issue its billionth certificate, it has only taken two years to achieve the three billion mark.
In addition, the ISRG stated that 82% of all online pages loaded by Firefox use HTTPS internationally in its 2022 annual report. Only 38% of website page loads used HTTPS encryption at the time Let’s Encrypt was established.
This expansion occurs as more important participants in the browser, operating system, and cloud markets, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and others, begin to trust and incorporate Let’s Encrypt.
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What will Let’s Encrypt do next, then? The organisation wants to make it much simpler for websites to renew their certificates, especially if they have to revoke a certificate for some reason, as when a website’s server is compromised. In March 2020, a problem in Let’s Encrypt’s domain validation and issuance software forced the company to cancel more than three million certificates. In January of this year, millions of active certificates were also revoked owing to “irregularities” in the code.
In order to benefit the entire ecosystem, the ISRG’s new specification for certificate renewals is “working its way through the IETF standards process, and we expect to implement it in production at Let’s Encrypt shortly,” according to Josh Aas, executive director of the ISRG.
The ultimate objective of Let’s Encrypt is to increase web encryption to 100%. Even if it’s still a ways off, this most recent achievement implies it’s closer than ever.