I just switched my personal web site (this one) over to HTTPS using Let’s Encrypt. My long-time hosting provider, Dreamhost, added support for it recently (January 20, 2016). Both Let’s Encrypt and Dreamhost’s support for it are still considered Beta, but no issues here so far.
I have always wanted to have encrypted transmissions for my web site but did not want to spend the money to get the certificate and and possibly pay for the static IP. Thanks to Let’s Encrypt and Dreamhost’s support for it, it’s now possible.
What is Let’s Encrypt?
Let’s Encrypt provides free, automatic, and secure certificates for your web site. If you own a domain, you can can get a certificate for it for free. The software issued by the project acquires the certificate, configures your server, and automatically renews it. The certificates issued by the project use best practices in certificate authority (CA) management.
The Let’s Encrypt project itself is transparent, open, and cooperative. All transactions for certificate issuance and revocation is public information and can be reviewed. The protocol for issuing and renewing certificates will be an open standard for adoption by other organizations. Let’s Encrypt supports an open community and is a joint effort by several organizations.
How to Use Let’s Encrypt
There are quite a few tutorials show on how use the Let’s Encrypt code to acquire your certificate. Here are a just a few.
Dreamhost has a wiki page to describe how to enable certificates through their control panel.
It’s very easy. Here is what I did.
I used the Dreamhost Control Panel under Domain -> Secure Hosting -> Add Secure Hosting. Just select your domain. Checkmark the Signed Certificate option. Choose whether you want to add a static IP. Static IP support may be needed if you have older web browsers that you want to support. No one should still be using those older versions due to the security issues around legacy systems, but I know there are people out there doing it. Upgrade!
Since I am using WordPress, I also had to make a minor change there too. In your Dashboard, go to Settings -> General and change your WordPress Address (URL) and your Site Address (URL) from “http” to “https”.
I also discovered I was loading an image from another system using HTTP. Once I changed that to HTTPS, my site loaded securely.
I would encourage everyone with a domain without HTTPS to check out Let’s Encrypt. I also want to thank Dreamhost for making Let’s Encrypt work smoothly!
Next up will be changes to WordPress to use HTTPS all the time. More later.
(Update February 1, 2016) I added the Dreamhost wiki page link, and image from the DH Control Panel, and a note about changes still needed for WP.