Before 2016, only 40% of internet traffic was running on a secure protocol. This meant that most of the pages were not encrypted using SSL Certificates, which is the standard security technology used to secure internet traffic while in transit.

Today, that percentage has risen from 40% to over 80%.

This is some great progress within a very short time and the main player who made it possible is a non-profit organization called Internet Security Research Group through the Certificate Authority Let’s Encrypt.

The improvement is a significant development in the internet world, although it is little known and many people may not have heard about the Let’s Encrypt service.

Why is Let's Encrypt Important

Why does this matter?

Encryption is to internet traffic security what a password is to software security.

To appreciate the role of an SSL certificate, one needs to understand how internet traffic moves from one place to another. Many people imagine that there is a direct path between their computer and the server where a web page, an email, or an application is located. In a real sense, traffic from your computer bounces from one router to another until it reaches its destination. There could be many intermediate destinations (nodes) that are owned by different parties, and this presents the risk of interception of the data.

This is the reason why every website, application, or server needs an SSL certificate.

Before Let’s Encrypt

The challenge that existed was that SSL certificates were expensive and difficult to install. This made it unattractive to many people who not only had to pay for them annually but also had to go through a long and complicated process to complete the setup

This is the challenge that several stakeholders came together to solve. Let’s Encrypt now offers free SSL Certificates that are easy to issue and renew, and the process can even be automated. This has made the service popular and hastened the speed of SSL Certificates adoption.

In February 2020, Let’s Encrypt announced that it has issued 1 billion SSL certificates and that number continues to increase at a rate of 1.2 million per day. This is more than 50% of the market share today.

Collaboration

To achieve this, several stakeholders had to come together to make this possible. This is an example of the power of collaboration in solving global challenges.

Some of the main sponsors and stakeholders that made this possible include the Mozilla Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), OVH, Cisco Systems, Facebook, Google Chrome, University of Michigan, and Internet Society.

Long live Let’s Encrypt.

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