What is Let’s Encrypt?
Let’s Encrypt is an organization that has evolved into an independent Certificate Authority in order to be able to issue free SSL certificates. This Certification Authority actively collaborates with global IT corporations such as Facebook, Google, Mozilla, Cisco, HP enterprise, and other well-known companies. This is the official website of the organization: https://letsencrypt.org.
Why are Let’s Encrypt free SSLs so popular?
First of all, obviously, because they are free of charge. This is one of the key points among all the benefits provided by the Let’s Encrypt Certification Authority.
Second, issuing a certificate when it comes to Linux users is relatively simple. There is an automatic option for issuing a certificate, as well as a manual one. Each user selects the most convenient choice for himself. Averagely, issuing a certificate takes up to 15 minutes.
Third, in terms of quality and encryption standard, free certificates from Let’s Encrypt are no worse than paid certificates from other well-known Certificate Authorities, such as Comodo, Geotrust, Symantec, etc.
Should I install a free SSL certificate?
Since the end of 2018, popular browsers have been tagging sites that have no certificates. When going to such a website, a red X, or the word “Untrustworthy” will appear in the address bar. This is an essential point if one wants to transfer websites to HTTPS. If your domain does not yet have a certificate, it is worth installing.
A free SSL certificate is suitable for a personal website, startup, or a non-profit project. You do not have to spend extra money, and the personal data of visitors will be safe.
Disadvantages of Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificates
Free SSL certificate does not last forever. The validity of a free SSL certificate is up to 90 days. Paid certificates can be bought immediately for three years, installed, and then you do not need to return to this issue until your certificate expires. In the case of a free certificate from Let’s Encrypt, you will need to remember that it has a short validity period and will need to be updated.
Luckily, Hostens has taken care of the entire process certificate issuing and updating. Once you install it, it will be renewed automatically.
Not all domains can be protected with a free SSL certificate
Let’s Encrypt free certificates are domain validated certificates. That is, if you need to protect the domain and its subdomains, you need to get several certificates, which means that you have 20 subdomains or more, then this will not be the best solution. In this case, a paid WildCard certificate can quickly solve this problem.
Also, when it comes to free SSL certificates, you cannot get free certificates with Organization Validation, certificates with a green line (English Extended validation) or multi-domain certificates (Multi-domain SSL). See more information for differences. For these purposes, you need to buy traditional certificates for money.
Who will take care of financial guarantees?
Keep in mind the fact that the Let’s Encrypt Certification Authority is a non-profit organization. All funding comes from third-party sponsors. Thus, if a free SSL certificate is hacked from the Let’s Encrypt Certificate Center you won’t be able to claim monetary compensation. This suggests that Let’s Encrypt takes responsibility for encrypting the data; however, in case of leakage, the responsibility falls on the users who used this service.
In the case of paid certificates, the Certification Authorities take upon themselves guarantees of payment of compensation.
Let’s Encrypt free certificates currently have compatibility issues regarding different browsers and even operating systems. Mostly those issues arise with really old browser versions. Of course, the percentage of users who still have them is not very large now, but this may be a challenge to some of your potential visitors.
As Let’s Encrypt is designed for Linux distributions, it may be challenging to find a workaround for Windows installation. However, you really do not need to do much – pressing a few buttons on the cPanel control panel is all it takes as Hostens has already taken care of all the process of issuing the SSL certificate.