1. 26
    1. 2

      I can’t decide if Let’s Encrypt is a godsend or a threat.

      On one hand, it let you support HTTPS for free.
      On the other, they collect an enourmous power worldwide.

      1. 8

        Agreed, they are quickly becoming the only game in town worth playing with when it comes to TLS certs. Luckily they are a non-profit, so they have more transparency than say Google, who took over our email.

        It’s awesome that we have easy, free TLS certs, but there shouldn’t be a single provider for such things.

        1. 3

          Is there anything preventing another (or another ten) free CAs from existing? Let’s Encrypt just showed everyone how, and their protocol isn’t a secret.

          1. 6

            OpenCA tried for a long time, and I think now has pretty much given up: https://www.openca.org/ and just exist in their own little bubble now.

            Basically nobody wants to certify you unless you are willing to pay out the nose and are considered friendly to the way of doing things. LE bought their way in I’m sure, to get their cert cross-signed, which is how they managed so “quickly” and it still took YEARS.

          2. 1

            Have you ever tried to create a CA?

            1. 3

              I’ve created lots of CAs, trusted by at most 250 people. :)

              Of course it’s not easy to make a new generally-trusted CA — nor would I want it to be. It’s a big complicated expensive thing to do properly. But if you’re willing to do the work, and can arrange the funding, is anything stopping you? I don’t know that browser vendors are against the idea of multiple free CAs.

              1. 3

                Obviously I was not talking about the technical stuffs.

                One of my previous boss explored the matter. He had the technical staff already but he wanted to become an official authority. It was more or less 2005.

                After a few time (and a lot of money spent in legal consulting) he gave up.

                He said: “it’s easier to open a bank”.

                In a sense, it’s reasonable, as the European laws want to protect citizens from unsafe organisations.

                But, it’s definitely not a technical problem.

        2. 1

          Luckily they are a non-profit

          Linux Foundation is a 501(c)(6) organization, a business league that is not organized for profit and no part of the net earnings goes to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.
          The fact all shareholders benefit from its work without a direct economical gain, doesn’t means it has the public good at heart. Even less the public good of the whole world.

          It sound a lot like another attempt to centralize the Internet, always around the same center.

          It’s awesome that we have easy, free TLS certs, but there shouldn’t be a single provider for such things.

          And such certificates protect people from a lot of relatively cheap attacks. That’s why I’m in doubt.

          Probably, issuing TLS certificates should be a public service free for each citizen of a state.

          1. 3

            Oh Jeez. Thanks, I didn’t realize it was not a 501c3, When LE was first coming around they talked about being a non-profit and I just assumed. That’s what happens when I assume.

            Proof, so we aren’t just taking @Shamar’s word for it:

            Linux Foundation Bylaws: https://www.linuxfoundation.org/bylaws/

            Section 2.1 states the 501(c)(6) designation with the IRS.

            My point stands, that we do get more transparency this way than we would if they were a private for-profit company, but I agree it’s definitely not ideal.

            So you think local cities, counties, states and countries should get in the TLS cert business? That would be interesting.

            1. 5

              It’s true the Linux Foundation isn’t a 501(c)(3) but the Linux Foundation doesn’t control Let’s Encrypt, the Internet Security Research Group does. And the ISRG is a 501(c)(3).

              So your initial post is correct and Shamar is mistaken.

              1. 1

                The Linux Foundation will provide general and administrative support services, as well as services related to fundraising, financial management, contract and vendor management, and human resources.

                This is from the page linked by @philpennock.

                I wonder what is left to do for the Let’s Encrypt staff! :-)

                I’m amused by how easily people forget that organisations are composed by people.

                What if Linux Foundation decides to drop its support?
                No funds. No finance. No contracts. No human resources.
                Oh and no hosting, too.

                But hey! I’m mistaken! ;-)

                1. 2

                  Unless you have inside information on the contract, saying LE depends on the Linux Foundation is pure speculation.

                  I can speculate too. Should the Linux Foundation withdraw support there are plenty of companies and organisations that have a vested interest in keeping LetsEncrypt afloat. They’ll be fine.

                  1. 1


                    Feel free to think that it’s a philanthropic endeavour!
                    I will continue to think it’s a political one.

                    The point (and as I said I cannot answer yet) is if the global risk of a single US organisation being able to break most of HTTPS traffic world wide is worth the benefit of free certificates.

                    1. 3

                      Any trusted CA can MITM, though, not just the one that issued the certificate. So the problem is (and always has been) much, much worse than that.

                      1. 1

                        Good point! I stand corrected. :-)

                        Still note how it’s easier for the certificate issuer to go unnoticed.

          2. 4

            What’s Linux Foundation got to do with it? Let’s Encrypt is run by ISRG, Internet Security Research Group, an organization from the IAB/IETF family if memory serves.

            They’re a 501(c)(3).

            1. 2

              LF provide hosting and support services, yes. Much as I pay AWS to run some things for me, which doesn’t lead to Amazon being in charge. https://letsencrypt.org/2015/04/09/isrg-lf-collaboration.html explains the connection.

            2. 1

              Look at the home page, top-right.

              1. 2

                The Linux Foundation provides hosting, fundraising and other services. LetsEncrypt collaborates with them but is run by the ISRG:

                Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority brought to you by the non-profit Internet Security Research Group (ISRG).