What is a Wildcard SSL Certificate?
A Wildcard SSL certificate is used for referring a digital certificate that may be applied to a domain as well as all its subdomains. In Wildcard certificates, an asterisk (*) and a period (.) is placed before the domain name. The SSL certificate tends to use Wildcards for extending the SSL encryption to its subdomains. A conventional SSL certificate works on a single domain, however, a Wildcard certificate protects the subdomains as well.
It is a cost-effective option to buy and extend a single certificate to all the subdomains rather than purchasing separate certificates for all the subdomains. Also, the administration can be made earlier when going for a Wildcard SSL certificate. A major drawback that rests with a Wildcard SSL certificate is that if the certificate needs to be revoked on one subdomain, it has to be revoked on all domains as well. Separate certificates might be an expensive option and require more administration, it ensures that all the subdomains are protected individually.
Example of Wildcard in Domain
Possible domain names for the above base domain name could include
Here, in this case, the Wildcard SSL will not only secure the base domain (. domain-name.com), but also the subdomains (help.domain-name.com & contact.domain-name.com) of this base domain.
Benefits of Wildcard SSL Certificates
1. Infinite Protection
With a single certificate, you have the ability to secure all your subdomains. A Wildcard SSL certificate is responsible for securing the information exchange online up to 256-bit encryption keeping the infiltrators away from your sensitive data and you get to add secure any number of subdomains without spending an extra penny.
2. Cost Savings
With the ability to secure any number of subdomains, your business can add, edit any number of subdomains during the life of Wildcard without facing any extra costs for individual subdomain certificates. Wildcard can be a benefit for those businesses who’re looking for cost-effective solutions for securing their websites. This is the reason, why Wildcard certificates are so popular in the SMBs.
3. Simplified Certificate Management
A single Wildcard gives the users to install these with a simple one-click installation. The certificate is enabled with easy certificate management as the organizations don’t need to go for managing multiple certificates, providing hassle-free certificate management.
4. User Trust
A secured website tends to have higher traffic and more user trust with respect to an unsecured website. Customers trust your sites more as it has the maximum encryption along with a Wildcard certificate that comes with a domain or business validation depending on the certificate you’ve selected. A Wildcard certificate also ensures the customers about the reliability of your website, reflecting that an authentic certificate authority has verified your website.
A Wildcard SSL certificate is highly compatible with most of the servers and browsers for both mobile and desktop. Though, some old browsers are not going to support the Wildcard certificate. To curb this shortcoming, an SGC or server-gated cryptography certificate can be an ideal option. Most of the Wildcard certificate providers offer high browser compatibility, ensuring the customers about the website being smooth for browsing purposes without an SSL warning.
6. Quick Issuance
Getting a Wildcard SSL certificate is a really quick process and one can get it in two days as there is no tedious process for verification. If your CA (certificate authority) is going for domain validation, then the issuance of your certificate is barely a few minutes away, as your CA is going to check your business documents and then issue your certificate.
7. Seal of Trust
Most of the certificate authorities provide a trusted site seal at zero costs for any additional assurance that the website owner can place on any webpage. This seal of trust assures your customers that there is a reputed certificate authority backing your website.
SAN for Securing Multi Domains
A SAN or Subject Alternative Name Certificates are used for securing several level domain names using a single certificate only. SAN Certificates allows the users to secure a primary domain and then add any number of additional domains in the SAN field of the certificate. Always remember this fact that a Wildcard SSL is used for securing only a single level subdomain and not second-level subdomains. As in the case of the above-shared example, Wildcard certificates will secure the mentioned subdomains (help.domain-name.com & contact.domain-name.com) and not subdomains like (India.help.domain-name.com). So, if you wish to secure your second-level subdomains, then you need to go for a SAN SSL Certificate.
Wildcard or SAN: What to Choose When?
- Wildcard Certificates
Wildcard certificates are a great option if you’re looking to secure multiple subdomains on a single domain. Wildcard certificates can be more useful than SAN as you don’t need to buy the certificates for every single-leveled subdomains, thereby reducing your costs. If you add more subdomains in the future, then there is no need to reissue this certificate.
- SAN Certificates
On the other hand, if you’re looking to protect multi-level subdomains, then a SAN certificate can be the right choice for you. Protecting alternate domains with the same website is the right option for you. Be cautious and remember that you need to define the additional domains and then add your certificate to them in order to make them work.
Wildcard certificates can be a perfect solution for businesses that are looking for a robust protection solution mechanism at affordable costs. A reputed certificate authority for Wildcard SSL can play a crucial role in your customer’s mind regarding the reputation of your website.