Let’s Encrypt Gets Certbot, a New Client From the EFF

May 17, 2016 @ 2:00 PM
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2 min read

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) announced the introduction of Certbot, a Let’s Encrypt client designed to help websites encrypt traffic. It’s considered a beta right now, but the EFF predicts a release version by the end of the year.

What Does Let’s Encrypt Do?

Let’s Encrypt is an open certificate authority (CA) that issued its first certificate in September 2015. It entered a wide and public beta in December 2015, and in April of this year pulled itself out of the beta phase. It is now one of the largest CAs, used by millions of people around the world.

It is designed to bring encryption to all of the Internet by offering free certificates to website owners. Using the secure form of the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) requires that a site have a verified certificate from a known CA. Getting such a certificate was a costly process before Let’s Encrypt was founded by the EFF, Mozilla and researchers from the University of Michigan.

There’s a New Client in Town

Certbot is a new client software that communicates with the Let’s Encrypt CA via a protocol called ACME. While there are other options using this same protocol, Certbot is “the most popular choice for organizations and developers that run their own webservers,” according to the EFF.

The EFF said that the Certbot team has worked to make the transition to this new client as seamless as possible. It also assured users that previously installed packages and third-party plugins should continue to work and receive updates without modification.

Plans Go Beyond Certbot

The EFF explained it has plans to help with “a number of the other tasks that currently make correct TLS deployment very difficult.” This includes improved detection, real-time vulnerability mitigation and more. Perhaps most importantly, the organization will provide “expanding support to install certificates and offer security enhancements to popular email server software.”

Let’s Encrypt is an ambitious effort with a goal to improve the security of the entire Internet. By combining CA activities with efforts like Certbot, the EFF has a far better chance of achieving its goal.

Larry Loeb
Principal, PBC Enterprises

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE mag...
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