The future is secure. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) has long been a feature of the web that offers extra security for users by encrypting their connection to a website and the details that they submit through that site. For a long time, it has been something that has been actively encouraged on any platform where users may be submitting sensitive information, such as online stores or eCommerce sites and rightly so.
Historically, SSL providers have charged varying fees for certificates, ranging from tens, to hundreds and even thousands of pounds per year for protection. These fees meant that for websites not generating an income, they were not economically viable and therefore primarily appeared just on eCommerce sites.
Times are changing though. SSL is becoming more open source and freely available to the masses, as the internet community moves towards making the web safer and more secure for everybody. Services like HTTPS Everywhere, OpenSSL and Let’s Encrypt now offer free SSL certificates to anyone and with many hosting providers integrating these services directly into their control panel’s, certificates can even be installed with a single click in many instances.
Let’s Encrypt was announced in November 2014. By September 2015 it had issued its first certificate. By the end of the year it was rolling out certificates to the public and by March 2016 had issued over a million. At the end of the year, that number had grown to a staggering 24 million SSL certificates issued free of charge to websites of all shapes and sizes, with the number only continuing to grow.
With over a billion active websites out there, there is still a long way to go, but there’s no doubt that we are moving in the right direction, towards a safer and more secure web for all. Some people argue that providing SSL free of charge only moves to weaken the security of it and that the ability for a single click install means that people could be duped into trusting a potentially iffy website because it is displaying an SSL certificate.
I have no doubt that this is a positive step though. Security now is more important than ever before and whilst you can never be 100% secure, free and open SSL certificates are a step in the right direction. Now you can use the web with the peace of mind that your data is at least more secure than it has ever been before.