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Tech companies want you to have free web encryption

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
November 18, 2014
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Ideally, you'd encrypt everything you do on the web to keep it away from spies and thieves. However, getting a security certificate to enable that encryption on your own site can be both costly and difficult -- many people don't even bother. That's not good enough for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, so it's partnering with Mozilla, Cisco and other tech firms to launch Let's Encrypt, an authority that will hand out and manage free certificates for anyone that wants them. Besides eliminating the cost barrier, the effort will also scrap a lot of the bureaucracy and hard work that's normally involved -- all you'll have to do is run a program, which should take seconds.

Right now, the only real catch is the wait for a proper launch. You won't get to use Let's Encrypt until next summer, since it requires an unfinished protocol for validating web domains. It could change much of the web if it launches according to plan, though. It would let you lock down a personal site within moments, and small businesses would be more likely to turn encryption on; you'd have less reason to worry that a local shop is exposing your info through carelessness. While Let's Encrypt won't guarantee that your messages and transactions will stay secret, it should at least raise the bar for internet privacy.

[Image credit: David Ramos/Getty Images]

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