Wednesday, November 19, 2014

If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine

As someone who worked in the intelligence community a couple decades back (i.e. before it went feral), it's been quite dismaying to see the government's attacks on the privacy of regular citizens.  In particular, the repeated attempts to discourage the use of encryption is something that as a Security Guy I can only say is a Very Bad Thing.

I'm not the only one.  This announcement seems really, really important:
ital personal and business information flows over the Internet more frequently than ever, and we don’t always know when it’s happening. It’s clear at this point that encrypting is something all of us should be doing. Then why don’t we use TLS (the successor to SSL) everywhere? Every browser in every device supports it. Every server in every data center supports it. Why don’t we just flip the switch?

The challenge is server certificates. The anchor for any TLS-protected communication is a public-key certificate which demonstrates that the server you’re actually talking to is the server you intended to talk to. For many server operators, getting even a basic server certificate is just too much of a hassle. The application process can be confusing. It usually costs money. It’s tricky to install correctly. It’s a pain to update.

Let’s Encrypt is a new free certificate authority, built on a foundation of cooperation and openness, that lets everyone be up and running with basic server certificates for their domains through a simple one-click process.
Who are the subversive Black Hat traitors behind this?
Mozilla Corporation, Cisco Systems, Inc., Akamai Technologies, Electronic Frontier Foundation, IdenTrust, Inc., and researchers at the University of Michigan are working through the Internet Security Research Group (“ISRG”), a California public benefit corporation, to deliver this much-needed infrastructure in Q2 2015. The ISRG welcomes other organizations dedicated to the same ideal of ubiquitous, open Internet security.
Ah.  It's a bunch of techies who feel the same way as I do.  Good.  And the project seems to have the Internet Philosophy embedded in its DNA:
The key principles behind Let’s Encrypt are:
  • Free: Anyone who owns a domain can get a certificate validated for that domain at zero cost.
  • Automatic: The entire enrollment process for certificates occurs painlessly during the server’s native installation or configuration process, while renewal occurs automatically in the background.
  • Secure: Let’s Encrypt will serve as a platform for implementing modern security techniques and best practices.
  • Transparent: All records of certificate issuance and revocation will be available to anyone who wishes to inspect them.
  • Open: The automated issuance and renewal protocol will be an open standard and as much of the software as possible will be open source.
  • Cooperative: Much like the underlying Internet protocols themselves, Let’s Encrypt is a joint effort to benefit the entire community, beyond the control of any one organization.
If you have your own DNS domain, you should check this out.

1 comment:

Eric Wilner said...

Yup, definitely. I've been using self-signed certificates (purportedly issued by Big Al's Protection Racket) these many years, and it's a pain... besides which, by the time one expires, I've forgotten how the process works and have to dig through the documentation again.
Had it bookmarked since yesterday, and awaiting the day it goes live.