Yesterday, I re-tweeted Cloudflare’s announcement that they are providing universal SSL for their customers.  I believe the announcement is a valuable one for the state of the open Internet for a couple of reasons:
First, there is the obvious — they are doubling the number of websites on the Internet that support encrypted connections. And, hopefully, that will prompt even more sites/hosting providers/CDNs to get serious about supporting encryption, too. Web encryption — it’s not just for e-commerce, anymore.
Second, and no less important, is the way that the announcement articulates and shares their organizational thought processes. They are pretty clear that this is not a decision made to immediately and positively impact their bottom line of business. It’s about better browsing, and a better Internet in the long run is better business. And, they are also pretty open about the challenges they face, operationally, to achieve this. That’s another thing that can be helpful to other organizations contemplating the plunge to support SSL.
So, go ahead and have a read of their detailed announcement — and please forget to come back and check if this website supports encrypted connections. It does not :-/ (yet). I’ve added it to my IT todo list — right after dealing with some issues in my e-mail infrastructure. I asked the head of IT for a timeline on that, and she just gave me a tail-flick and a paw-wash in response. Life as a micro-enterprise.
More substantially, I could easily become a Cloudflare customer and thus enable encryption up to the Cloudflare servers. But, proper end-to-end encryption requires my site to have a certificate, based on a unique IP address for this website and the going rate for that, given where my site is, is $6/mo. That adds, substantially, to the cost of supporting a website, especially when you might have several of them kicking around for different purposes.
There’s work to be done yet in the whole security system (economics) model, it seems to me. Open discussion of practical issues and eventual work arounds does seem like a good starting place, though.