Let’s Encrypt to Offer Wildcard Certificates in 2018

Let’s Encrypt announced today that they plan to offer wildcard certificates beginning in January 2018.

A wildcard certificate can secure any number of subdomains of a base domain (e.g. *.example.com). This allows administrators to use a single certificate and key pair for a domain and all of its subdomains, which can make HTTPS deployment significantly easier.

Wildcard certificates will be offered free of charge via our upcoming ACME v2 API endpoint. We will initially only support base domain validation via DNS for wildcard certificates, but may explore additional validation options over time. We encourage people to ask any questions they might have about wildcard certificate support on our community forums.

That is excellent news. Wildcard certificates are fairly expensive. I’m paying $94/year for a Comodo PositiveSSL wildcard cert through a reseller. If you go directly to Comodo, they want $249/year which is going to be well out of the range of a lot of people to afford.

It will be interesting to see what the uptake is on this, as I assume wildcard certificates are a major profit center for certificate authorities. It would also be interesting to see an analysis of what effect Let’s Encrypt has had on the economics of CA’s already.

Are those who use Let’s Encrypt large companies and individuals who weren’t using SSL at all beforehand, or is a significant portion of that activity from people who opted for a free alternative.

I know I was at the point where I needed to buy a single domain certificate last year and opted for Let’s Encrypt because of its low, low price of nothing.

Let’s Encrypt Reaches 100 Million Certificates Milestone

Let’s Encrypt announced this week that they’d passed the 100 million certificates issued threshhold,

Let’s Encrypt has reached a milestone: we’ve now issued more than 100,000,000 certificates. This number reflects at least a few things:

First, it illustrates the strong demand for our services. We’d like to thank all of the sysadmins, web developers, and everyone else managing servers for prioritizing protecting your visitors with HTTPS.

Second, it illustrates our ability to scale. I’m incredibly proud of the work our engineering teams have done to make this volume of issuance possible. I’m also very grateful to our operational partners, including IdenTrust, Akamai, and Sumo Logic.

Third, it illustrates the power of automated certificate management. If getting and managing certificates from Let’s Encrypt always required manual steps there is simply no way we’d be able to serve as many sites as we do. We’d like to thank our community for creating a wide range of clients for automating certificate issuance and management.

The press release also notes that when Let’s Encrypt began issuing certificates, Firefox’s Telemetry report found that

. . . less than 40% of page loads on the Web used HTTPS . . . In the 19 months since we launched, encrypted page loads have gone up by 18%, to nearly 58%.

A very good trend.

Let’s Encrypted Reached 20 Million Active Certificates in 2016

Interesting look from Let’s Encrypt Executive Director Josh Aas on the explosion in certificates that the free service has seen since its launch in 2015,

At the start of 2016, Let’s Encrypt certificates had been available to the public for less than a month and we were supporting approximately 240,000 active (unexpired) certificates. That seemed like a lot at the time! Now we’re frequently issuing that many new certificates in a single day while supporting more than 20,000,000 active certificates in total. We’ve issued more than a million certificates in a single day a few times recently. We’re currently serving an average of 6,700 OCSP responses per second.

. . .

When 2016 started, our root certificate had not been accepted into any major root programs. Today we’ve been accepted into the Mozilla, Apple, and Google root programs. We’re close to announcing acceptance into another major root program. These are major steps towards being able to operate as an independent CA.

EFF Says HTTPS Deployment Saw Major Growth in 2016

In an end-of-the-year summary, the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted that deployment of HTTPS grew dramatically in 2016,

By some measures, more than half of page loads in Firefox and in Chrome are now secured with HTTPS—the first time this has ever happened in the Web’s history. That’s right: for the first time ever, most pages viewed on the Web were encrypted! (As another year-in-review post will discuss, browsers are also experimenting with and rolling out stronger encryption technologies to better protect those connections.)

The EFF sites the availability of tools and services such as Let’s Encrypt that make obtaining and deploying certificates easier, as well as increasing pressure on companies to encrypt all traffic rather than just specific subsets.

The one troubling spot is that this increase isn’t necessarily distributed well geographically,

A caveat: data from Google shows that use of HTTPS varies significantly from country to country, remaining especially uncommon in Japan. We’ve also heard that it’s still uncommon across much of East and Southeast Asia. Next year, we’ll have to find ways to bridge those gaps.

I’ve used HTTPS on 99 percent of my server for years now, but there was a tiny portion that was not HTTPS because of a specific application that used its own non-Apache server that did not play well with the Wildcard SSL certificate I use. This year, finally, I was able to use Let’s Encrypt to flawlessly install a certificate just for that. The process for doing so was ridiculously easy and took about 10 minutes from beginning to end to configure and test.