What’s the Difference Between Let’s Encrypt and Purchased SSL?


Having secure encryption is a top priority for website owners, and the usual route is the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Now there’s a free alternative to SSL called Let’s Encrypt. It may be free, but does it actually deliver like a paid SSL service?




The main idea of Let’s Encrypt is to simplify the process of getting a certificate. These are presented by web servers when you request a new SSL connection. There are a variety of different types of certificates, including Domain Validation, Organization Validation, Extended Validation, and Wildcard certificates. Basically, they specify how thorough the validation is. If the Certificate Authority can verify that someone owns the website and confirms the location and existence of the legal entity, they will issue an EV.

Let’s Encrypt will only issue Domain Validations, the simplest form of certificate. The DV is still very useful for legitimizing a website, but it won’t work for every business. For example, an e-commerce business of larger enterprise will probably require the more thorough EV certificate. That being said, DVs are great options of smaller businesses without the need for a more specialized certificate.


The Process


Even though Let’s Encrypt is has a limited certificate selection, the process of applying for and receiving a certificate could not be simpler. It does this by automating the issuance and renewal process than can be a hassle with other DV services. There are also no yearly renewal fees since the service is completely free. Unlike many CAs, many web hosts will actually offer to set some things up for you. Although Let’s Encrypt requires your certificate to be renewed every 90 days, this process can be completely automated. Paid services don’t automate renewal, but they typically offer longer certificate periods of up to 3 years.


The Price


Obviously, the main thing that makes Let’s Encrypt unique is its zero dollar price tag. It’s a great way to get a certificate in the easiest and quickest way possible as well. That being said, the higher prices of other services to come with added benefits, like insurance, which LE does not offer. If you’re not too worried about a breach in security, then insurance shouldn’t be a problem. Plus, other Domain Validation services can cost up to $50 per year, so LE will spare you some significant money in the long run. That being said, companies with bigger websites and more to lose will require an insurance plan for peace of mind.


Security and SEO


Let’s Encrypt’s security is actually pretty good considering the service is completely free: It comes with the industry standard HTTPS protocol. This protocol is relied on by large businesses like banks that require the utmost security for their customers’ information and transactions. HTTPS makes the web browser check the website’s security certificate to verify that it was issued by a legitimate certificate authority. While the system isn’t perfect, it’s a big step up from the inferior security of the HTTP protocol.

On top of security benefits, HTTPS will aid your site’s search engine optimization. Google now prefers websites that have HTTPS, which means that a site with identical specifications to your own will be ranked lower on the search engine. Increased visibility and adequate security are essential for a growing site, so LE’s service is totally worthwhile and effective for most users.


In Conclusion…


While many larger businesses will need to obtain a more thorough verification from a CA, there are plenty that will benefit from Let’s Encrypt’s free service. The lack of a price tag gives smaller sites and those who are new to encryption some breathing room to get into the Internet space. The added benefit of simplified and automated issuance and renewal processes makes LE unprecedented in accessibility.

That being said, other paid SSL services will not go away any time soon. LE’s free service is effective but only provides the bare minimum requirements for obtaining decent website encryption. Larger sites will want the added security and insurance of a paid service, even if it means more hassle to deal with.

For more help on choosing the right encryption for your website, visit Mightweb. Our web hosting plans can provide you with everything necessary to find a space and curate it to your needs.