No domain left behind: Is Let's Encrypt democratizing encryption?

Maarten Aertsen, Maciej Korczyński, Giovane C.M. Moura, Samaneh Tajalizadehkhoob, Jan Van Den Berg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


The 2013 National Security Agency revelations of pervasive monitoring have led to an "encryption rush" across the computer and Internet industry. To push back against massive surveillance and protect users' privacy, vendors, hosting and cloud providers have widely deployed encryption on their hardware, communication links, and applications. As a consequence, most web connections nowadays are encrypted. However, there is still a significant part of Internet traffic that is not encrypted. It has been argued that both costs and complexity associated with obtaining and deploying X.509 certificates are major barriers for widespread encryption, since these certificates are required to establish encrypted connections. To address these issues, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla Foundation, the University of Michigan and a number of partners have set up Let's Encrypt (LE), a certificate authority that provides both free X.509 certificates and software that automates the deployment of these certificates. In this paper, we investigate if LE has been successful in democratizing encryption: we analyze certificate issuance in the first year of LE and show from various perspectives that LE adoption has an upward trend and it is in fact being successful in covering the lower-cost end of the hosting market.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationANRW 2017 - Proceedings of the Applied Networking Research Workshop, Part of IETF-99 Meeting
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450351089
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event2017 Applied Networking Research Workshop, ANRW 2017 - Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 15 Jul 2017 → …


Conference2017 Applied Networking Research Workshop, ANRW 2017
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic
Period15/07/17 → …


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