Setup Free SSL using Let's Encrypt


SSL Encryption is very important for websites to provide secure communication and safe transactions. In order to enable SSL on your website you need to purchase expensive SSL certificates. The Let's Encrypt Project from Linux foundation is changing this scenario by offering free SSL certificates. In this article, we discuss how to enable free SSL certificate on your website.

Let's encrypt is a project of Linux foundation. Like other free and open source projects from them, this project also provides its services for free. In this project your hosting provider has the facility to issue Lets Encrypt SSL. They give you the option to issue an SSL certificate for your hosted domain. As of now only hosting services are offering this functionality. In future domain registrar like Godaddy and Namecheap may provide this service too. However, considering the profit margin in commercial SSL certificates, the domain registrars may not vouch for Lets Encrypt to retain their business.

Who needs SSL Certificates?

Following types of websites need SSL certificates -

1. Online stores
2. Website that accepts credit cards
3. Website that accepts payment for services
4. Website that has a membership system that requires secure login

This doesn't mean other websites don't benefit from having an SSL certificate. If your website doesn't fall into one of these types, you can still enable SSL on your website to make it more secure. This can be one more layer of protection against bots and spammers when you are using a CDN such as Cloudflare. You can also use SSL as a hobbyist or web developer for testing purpose. Google also pays attention to the websites with SSL enabled on them. Facebook business pages require you to have SSL on the landing page to provide more secure platform for their users. Bing and other search engines also provide more authority to the websites with SSL certificates.

Things you need to setup free SSL certificate:

1. Cpanel Hosting
2. Let's Encrypt support inside Cpanel
3. Domain Name

That's it. You don't need anything else other than domain and hosting. In some cases all you need is a domain name if your registrar gives you free landing page. In future Facebook may allow you to encrypt your Facebook Business Pages using Lets Encrypt. This is for those businesses that are integrating shops on their pages.

Follow the steps below to setup SSL certificate inside Cpanel.

1. Login to your hosting Cpanel account.
2. Enable paper_lantern theme inside Cpanel for quick access.
3. Find "Lets Encrypt" icon inside Cpanel dashboard.

lets encrypt SSL1

4. Click on the Let's Encrypt icon.
5. Choose the domain that you want to encrypt and click on "issue" icon.

Lets encrypt cpanel 1

6. Include both "www" and "non www" version of the domains for SSL update.
7. Optionally also include SMTP Mail server SSL certificate for the same.
8. Click on issue.

That's all you need to do. After you click on issue, the system will generate PGP keys for the certificate. This can be used in your cert file. You can also download the cert file from this page. You will also get information regarding duration of the SSL certificate active period.

Security

The certificates that you get from Lets Encrypt have the same level of encryption and strength like commercial certificates. So you're not being compromised for service when the same is being offered to you for free. You can use it on stores, payment pages or other eCommerce websites. This certificate can save a lot of your money depending on the place from where you usually buy commercial certificates.

Following are the hosts that support the Lets Encrypt SSL certificates:

1. BlueHost
2. Hostgator
3. Digital Ocean
4. Hawkhost

These are some of the known hosts. In future you may get more into this list with Cpanel update. And you can get the free SSL certificate on most of the VPS and dedicated hosting websites. In case if your host doesn't have the option to add free SSL certificate inside Cpanel then you have to contact them. You can ask them to integrate them inside Cpanel. Most of the Cpanel versions released these days have this update. So all they have to do is upgrade their Cpanel license for this update.

Is it really free?

Yes the service is completely free of cost. You can try using it on your website after you follow the steps listed above. The service takes care of the certificate renewal from the Cpanel. You can also revoke the certificate or roll-back whenever you want. There is absolutely no cost other than getting a domain and hosting.

Conclusion

Lets Encrypt is a serious project that ensures hosted domains get industry level SSL certificates. This doesn't mean commercial SSL certificates are not worth purchasing. There are some advanced encryption levels that can't be provided at this time with Lets Encrypt. If you have a small blog, Facebook page or an online store, then you can use Lets Encrypt. Lets Encrypt ensures you get an SSL certificate in a situation where your budget is low to buy expensive certificates.


Comments

Guest Author: Peter16 Mar 2017

Incorrect. Hostgator does not offer Let's Encrypt in their cPanel.

Author: Mahesh13 Apr 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 0

Yes shared hosting plans don't offer Lets encrypt. But you can install Lets encrypt if you own VPS plan. Same applies to Bluehost for that matter.



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