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Launching in 2015: A Certificate Authority to Encrypt the Entire Web

By Peter Eckersley
Published on 2014-11-18, on the EFF blog.

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Let's Encrypt will eliminate most kinds of erroneous certificate warnings

The need to obtain, install, and manage certificates from that bureaucracy is the largest reason that sites keep using HTTP instead of HTTPS. In our tests, it typically takes a web developer 1-3 hours to enable encryption for the first time. The Let’s Encrypt project is aiming to fix that by reducing setup time to 20-30 seconds. You can help test and hack on the developer preview of our Let's Encrypt agent software or watch a video of it in action here:

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Let’s Encrypt will employ a number of new technologies to manage secure automated verification of domains and issuance of certificates. We will use a protocol we’re developing called ACME between web servers and the CA, which includes support for new and stronger forms of domain validation. We will also employ Internet-wide datasets of certificates, such as EFF’s own Decentralized SSL Observatory, the University of Michigan’s, and Google's Certificate Transparency logs, to make higher-security decisions about when a certificate is safe to issue.

The Let’s Encrypt CA will be operated by a new non-profit organization called the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG). EFF helped to put together this initiative with Mozilla and the University of Michigan, and it has been joined for launch by partners including Cisco, Akamai, and Identrust.

The core team working on the Let's Encrypt CA and agent software includes James Kasten, Seth Schoen, and Peter Eckersley at EFF; Josh Aas, Richard Barnes, Kevin Dick and Eric Rescorla at Mozilla; Alex Halderman and James Kasten and the University of Michigan.

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