Let's Encrypt SSL certificate overview

Let's Encrypt is a new Certificate Authority (CA) that offers FREE SSL certificates that are just as secure as current paid certificates. This project was pioneered to make encrypted connections the default standard throughout the Internet.

The 'Let's Encrypt' project is a large step forward for security and privacy on the Internet.

Benefits

Key benefits of using a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate:

  • It's free – Anyone who owns a domain can obtain a trusted certificate for that domain at zero cost.
  • It's automatic – The entire enrollment process for certificates occurs painlessly during the server’s native installation or configuration process. The renewal occurs automatically in the background.
  • It's simple – There's no payment, no validation emails, and certificates renew automatically.
  • It's secure – Let’s Encrypt serves as a platform for implementing modern security techniques and best practices.

Difference between a free Let's Encrypt certificate and a paid Comodo certificate

There is no difference in the encryption protection these certificates offer. However, 'Let's Encrypt' certificates only provide domain domain validation (DV) certificates. 'Let's Encrypt' certificates do not support Organizational Validation (OV) certificates. View the following link for further details:

What's the difference?

(DV) certificates can only ensure a secure connection to the website. Anyone with admin rights to the website's panel can add a 'Let's Encrypt' certificate. After adding in the panel, the certificate is added automatically.

(OV) certificates validate everything a (DV) does, while also validating additional organizational information about who is purchasing the certificate such as their Name, City, State, Country. (OV) certificates require the user to respond to an email with a verification code. This code must then be entered into Comodo's website. View the following article for all steps required:

Should you use a 'Let's Encrypt' or paid Comodo certificate?

If your website is a business that's processing credit cards or transmitting sensitive information, it's recommended that you add a paid Comodo certificate so your user's can rest assure the connection is valid and secure.

Simple websites that need the same level of encryption without the absolute guarantee of ownership can continue to use a 'Let's Encrypt' certificate. 

Forcing your website to load securely (HTTPS)

WordPress sites

View the following article for details on how to force your WordPress site to load only using HTTPS:

DreamPress sites

View the following article for details on how to force your DreamPress site to load only using HTTPS:

All other websites

You can force your website to load securely using HTTPS using an .htaccess file. View the following article for examples:

Rate limits

'Let's Encrypt' has set up rate limitations to help protect their servers. Limits are as follows:

  • Names/Certificate – Limit on how many domain names you can include in a single certificate. This is currently limited to 100 names, or websites, per certificate issued. Certificates per domain you could run into through repeated re-issuance. This limit measures certificates issued for a given combination of Public Suffix + Domain (a "registered domain"). This is limited to 5 certificates per domain per week.
  • Registrations/IP address – Limits the number of registrations you can make in a given time period; currently 500 per 3 hours. This limit should only affect the largest users of Let's Encrypt.
  • Pending Authorizations/Account – Limits how many times an ACME client can request a domain name be authorized without actually fulfilling on the request itself. This is most commonly encountered when developing ACME clients, and this limit is set to 300 per account per week.

View the following link for further details:

FAQs

How long is the certificate valid?

SSL certificates generated by Let's Encrypt are valid for 90 days and then renew automatically. This is for two reasons as stated on their blog post:

  • They limit damage from key compromise and mis-issuance since stolen keys and mis-issued certificates are valid for a shorter period of time.
  • They encourage automation, which is absolutely essential for ease-of-use. This takes the burden off system administrators to manually handle renewals. Once issuance and renewal are automated, shorter lifetimes won’t be any less convenient than longer ones.

What level of encryption is available?

RSA-signed using 2048-bit RSA keys.

Are wildcard certificates available?

No. This is also no longer necessary since it's so simple to obtain a free Let's Encrypt certificate for any domain/subdomain.

What browsers support Let's Encrypt certs?

Certificates are trusted in all major browsers. View the blog post here:

See also

Internal links

External links

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Article last updated .