Web site certificate note

LetsEncrypt is a free, open-source service for getting web site SSL certificates. This is what allows https: URLs to work securely. (Before LetsEncrypt was around, you generally had to pay for these certificates.)

All of IFTF’s web servers use LetsEncrypt. So do many, many other web sites.

A couple of years ago, LetsEncrypt announced changes to their root certificate. Modern web browsers are not affected (the new certificates will work fine.) But very old web browsers may start showing certificate errors. In particular, Android devices running Android 7.0 or earlier will have problems.

Different IFTF servers update their certs at different times, so it’s hard to say exactly when these problems will start. Sometime in the next three months, basically.

If you are affected by this, you can either:

  • Update to Android 7.1 or later
  • Install Firefox Mobile, which works with the new certificates.

This is not something that IFTF has control over. :) Sorry, I’m just reporting the news. For more information, please see this post:


Note that this will affect about 25% of the internet. It is perhaps unfortunate that old devices won’t be able to access the internet forever, but this problem isn’t unique to Let’s Encrypt. It’s actually been a big problem with smart TVs. All root certificates have an expiry, even if it’s usually 20 years.

All I can say is… choose devices that will let you install updates in the future.


Given that the older I get, the further technology moves away, to what devices are you referring? TV’s, mobile phones, tablets, etc?
What questions do I need to ask in order to correctly address any issues that may arise?

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If it’s a general purpose computer (or tablet/phone/etc) then you should be able to install updates even long into the future, though eventually you might need to rely on community developed updates, and if it’s an obscure device there might not be much of a community to work on keeping it updated.

If it’s a smart TV, or router, or some “Internet of Things” device, the question you’d want to ask is how to install firmware updates for it, as well as how long the manufacturer is committed to providing updates. Ideally you’ll be able to install firmware updates without needing the device to have a working internet connection. And again, the more obscure it is, the more trouble you may run into in the future.


OK. I guess I will cross those bridges when I come to them. Or just buy the latest device.

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