If you have a website with multiple sub-domains and want to secure it using an SSL certificate, you might have come across the term ‘Wildcard SSL certificate.’ However, you might not understand it thoroughly and are unsure about using it for your website. Well, don’t worry.
In this blog post, we’ll dig deep into Wildcard certificates and their working so that you can assess whether they’ll fit your requirements or not.
Let’s get started!
What is a Wildcard SSL Certificate?
A Wildcard SSL certificate is a type of SSL certificate that can be used to secure an unlimited number of website sub-domains. It gets its name from using the asterisk symbol (*) as a placeholder for various subdomains. For example, a Wildcard SSL certificate used on the domain www.example.com can also be used to secure subdomain.example.com, blog.example.com, mail.example.com, etc.
Essentially, a single Wildcard SSL certificate can be used to secure any number of subdomains under a single domain name. As you don’t have to manage multiple SSL certificates, you’re saving a lot of time that goes into managing SSL certificates.
Moreover, it proves to be quite cost-effective as you don’t need to purchase multiple SSL certificates.
Thus, getting a cheap Wildcard SSL certificate (starts at $29.99) is an absolute no-brainer if you have multiple sub-domains on your website.
What are the Types of Wildcard SSL Certificates?
Unlike single domain SSL certificates that come in three types, Wildcard certificates are distinguished into two types:
- Domain Validation (DV) Wildcard SSL Certificate
- Organization Validation (OV) Wildcard SSL Certificate
DV Wildcard SSL certificates provide validation for domains; thus, certificate authority (CA) only verifies your domain ownership to issue an SSL certificate. However, regarding OV Wildcard SSL certificates, CA verifies the legitimacy of the organization requesting an OV Wildcard SSL certificate.
When you install an OV Wildcard SSL certificate on your website, visitors can check the certificate details and verify that it belongs to a valid organization.
Should You Use a Wildcard SSL Certificate?
Now that you know Wildcard SSL certificates are good, the next step is to know whether they’re right for you or not. A Wildcard SSL certificate could be a great option for you if…
- You want to secure multiple sub-domains
- You have few domains but plan to add more in the future
- OV Wildcard SSL certificate is sufficient for you, and you don’t need an EV certificate
In addition to the above criteria, you should also consider the below benefits that a Wildcard SSL certificate offers:
Private keys are quite important as they can pave the way for huge security lapses if compromised. In addition, you’ll need to manage multiple private keys if you use multiple certificates. This could be a call for potential trouble if they’re not managed. Thus, a Wildcard SSL certificate minimizes such risk.
The most obvious benefit of a Wildcard SSL certificate is the amount of money it helps you save. With a Wildcard SSL certificate, you don’t need to purchase multiple certificates, which results in huge savings.
An often underrated benefit of a Wildcard SSL certificate is its ability to secure sub-domains installed on multiple servers. If you have your sub-domains installed on multiple servers, you don’t need to worry about getting another SSL certificate.
How do Wildcard SSL Certificates Work?
A Wildcard SSL certificate is a certificate that can be used to secure multiple subdomains with a single certificate. It contains private keys that are shared across all subdomains. Certificate Authorities generate the certificate during the certificate signing request (CSR). As a result, multiple servers can use the same certificate, which makes it a hassle-free, convenient, and time-saving solution.
Where multiple servers are used, the website owners will copy the private key onto every server during the certification installation. The CAs like COMODO, SECTIGO, and CERTERA (Subordinate Public Certificate Authority) issue an SSL certificate in which the common name looks like this: *.yourdomain.com. It also contains a Subject Alternative Name (SAN) field that only registers your domain name, yourdomain.com.
What to do After Purchasing Wildcard SSL Certificate?
Now that you know a Wildcard SSL certificate is a great option for a multi-domain website, you might consider purchasing it. However, that’s not everything you need to know. The process of purchasing a Wildcard SSL certificate is equally important.
Let’s have a look at it.
Step 1: Generate a CSR (certificate signing request)
Once you’ve made the purchase, you need to generate a CSR with your domain and organizational details. Ensure you have an asterisk before your domain name (*.yourdomain. com).
Step 2: Complete the Verification
Before issuing the certificate to you, the CA will verify your domain or organization ownership based on your certificate type. In the case of an OV Wildcard SSL certificate, you will need to provide relevant documents so that the CA can ensure the organization’s legitimacy.
Step 3: Download the SSL Certificate
After completing the vetting process, the CA will email you a Wildcard SSL certificate. You will need to download those files before installing them on your server.
Step 4: Install the SSL Certificate
Last, you will need to install the SSL certificate on your server to establish a secure connection between your website and its users. Note that the verification process will depend on the server you’re using.
A Wildcard SSL certificate is a wonderful solution for a website owner wanting to secure multiple sub-domains using a single SSL certificate. Not only it enhances security and convenience, but it also reduces the costs involved. We hope this blog post has helped you understand the ins and outs of a Wildcard SSL certificate.