ZD Tech: How Let’s Encrypt Changed the Face of the Web

Hello everyone and welcome to ZD Tech, ‘s editorial podcast. My name is Louis Adam and today I will explain why Let’s Encrypt changed the face of the web.

In just under 10 years of existence, this project has democratized encryption. His secret weapon to achieve it? Offer free AND automated electronic certificates. And, therefore, allow anyone to encrypt their website traffic.

Because we have known for 30 years how to encrypt exchanges on the web, especially through the HTTPS protocol. This helps prevent the interception of data exchanged between a user and a website.

The heart of this protocol are the electronic certificates issued by the certification authorities.

But what is an electronic certificate?

It is a digital document comparable to an identity card. And the role of a certificate authority is to provide this identity document and guarantee the identity of the holder. Checks that can go up to the phone call to ensure that the organization requesting a certificate is real.

There are many certification authorities. These are commercial companies that sell their certificates and have made a fortune doing so.

But the arrival of Lets Encrypt to the market will shake these authorities.

The idea of ​​genius? Offer electronic certificates accessible to all

Unlike its competitors, Let’s Encrypt is not a commercial company. Your certificates are free and easy to set up. And it doesn’t worry about advanced identity checks for certificate applicants.

This is how Let’s Encrypt has become the main actor of the certificate authorities. And this is also how in five years, the use of the HTTPS protocol has increased from 50% to 95% on websites.

So what is the flip side?

Already, its increasingly central role. When Let’s Encrypt is in trouble, it is possible for a large number of sites and services to cascade.

The other concern is malicious use. As Let’s Encrypt does not verify the identity of its users, the presence of one of its certificates on a site does not guarantee much. A scam site can definitely use a Let’s Encrypt certificate and make it look like a safe site without spending a penny.

But without Let’s Encrypt, HTTPS technology would have been a privilege reserved for companies with the means to afford it.

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