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Wildcard SSL Certificate

Do you know what is wildcard SSL certificate? How it works? When to use it? In this article, you’ll discover all the details about Wildcard SSL certificates.

Ever wonder how fast the internet has grown in past years? In the first six years from when the first website was created, there were 2.57k websites on it. It is almost unbelievable that almost the same number of websites are created every single day in 2022. As the number of websites increased in the coming years, the need for securing users’ data also rocketed.

SSL certificate is the latest website security tool. Installing an SSL certificate on your website results in the safe transmission of users’ data. There are several types of SSL certificates, but we will discuss SSL Wildcard certificate today.

Let’s understand what is an SSL certificate, and then we will understand the working of a Wildcard SSL certificate in detail.

What is Wildcard SSL Certificate

What is a Regular SSL Certificate?

SSL is an acronym for Secure Socket Layer. SSL certificates utilize 256-bit encryption to encrypt the data that the internet users visiting your website enter into your website to make a purchase or subscribe to your services.

These certificates make the internet safer for users and help companies create a trustable environment for their customers. This way, the criminals cannot access or modify the in-transit data of the users entering their crucial information on the website.

Several visual indicators are unlocked and provided with an SSL certificate that the users can recognize and know that the website they are surfing is safe to visit as it encrypts their critical information.

The Secure Socket Layer (SSL) was invented 25 years ago, and over the years, several security troubles have led to major and minor updates throughout its lifetime. Finally, TLS (Transport Layer Security) was invented and introduced in 1999, but SSL was recognized worldwide. Even though TLS is the latest standard and is used for encrypting data, SSL is the term that has stuck since its inception.

We hope you now understand the basics of SSL certificates. Next, we move on to understanding the purpose of Wildcard SSL certificates and their functioning.

What is a Wildcard SSL Certificate?

An SSL Wildcard certificate is a digital SSL certificate with a special character ” * (an asterisk sign) “ that helps the website owner secure multiple domains of a single domain under a solo Wildcard certificate. Therefore it secures the *.yourdomainname.com ” for “www.yourdomainname.com”.

It is used to secure data for websites with multiple subdomains that collect data from website visitors.

What is the Difference Between a Regular SSL Certificate and Wildcard SSL Certificate?

Expanding on what we discussed above, a regular SSL certificate will cover a single www or non-www domain, while a Wildcard certificate will secure as many subdomains as you keep adding under your main domain.

It sounds interesting because it would be very hectic and inefficient to have yourself (or the employees) keep track of various SSL certificates for your different subdomains. It is time-consuming and makes a hole in your pocket by adding extra SSL certificate pricing and management cost.

Securing multiple subdomains for the main domain is a flagship feature of Wildcard certificates. Let’s understand the other features that Wildcard certificates come with.

Features of Wildcard SSL Certificate

Wildcard certificate has all the features that a regular certificate has and adds a punch by allowing the users to install the certificate on all the subdomains of their main domains.

Latest Website Security Standard 256-bit Encryption

Wildcard certificates come with the latest website security standard 256-bit algorithm and 2048-bit RSA keys that provide unbreakable encryption for the in-transit data of website visitors.

Visual Trust Indicators

There are three visual indicators that all types of Wildcard SSL certificates provide to website owners.

  • Secure Padlock (can be found on the side of the address bar)
  • Secure HTTPS URL (visible on the address bar in the URL of the website)
  • Site Seal (can be placed anywhere on the website where the users can see it the most)

Unlimited Server Licensing

As a business or website owner, you may have several servers. You can install your Wildcard SSL certificates on all your servers. These can be your primary, secondary or backup servers too.

Limitless Reissues

If you keep your certificate details safe and remember them or lose them, you can get a Wildcard reissued for free. You can get these reissues for unlimited times in the certificate registration tenure.

Below table consists of all the features that a Wildcard SSL certificate comes with.

Validation LevelDomain validation (DV)
Organization validation (OV)
Encryption AlgorithmSHA 256-bit encryption
Key LengthRSA 2048-bit key length
Visual CuesHTTPS URL – Padlock – Site Seal
Server LicensesUnlimited
Secure DomainsSingle domain and all its subdomains
Compatibility99.9% Smartphone and Browser Compatibility
Refund  100% guaranteed refund within 30 days of the certificate purchase by all brands.
WarrantyDepends on the validation level and the brand that is providing the certificate.

How Wildcard SSL Certificates Work?

The special feature of additional installation permission in Wildcard certificates helps website owners to use it on different websites. As stated earlier in the article, a character “ * ” before the domain name makes the Wildcard certificate usable on different subdomains.

To understand this easily, take a look at the Wildcard SSL certificate examples below.

Root Domain name: www.yourdomainname.com

Subdomain 1: blog.yourdomainname.com

Subdomain 2: jobs.yourdomainname.com

Likewise, SSL Wildcard certificate can secure unlimited subdomains for a single www or non-www domain.

When to use a Wildcard SSL Certificate?

Without stretching it much, if you have multiple purposes that need to be fulfilled from the main domain, you create a dedicated subdomain.

For example, suppose you are a company that generates business from SaaS (Software as a Service). In that case, you may need to have a dedicated subdomain for blogs to let your audience know what you and the industry is up to in your field. Other dedicated subdomains you may need are the Jobs section for hiring, the Support section for connecting with people who use your software and other subdomains that you may want to add in the future.

When needs for subdomains like these arise, which will also be collecting critical banking information from your customers, you will have to install Wildcard certificates since a single certificate would save you from headaches and draining your budget.

How Many Subdomains Can You Secure Using a Single Wildcard Certificate?

You can secure as many subdomains as possible, and your website needs to use a single Wildcard certificate by paying for just one certificate.

There are no limitations on the number of subdomains that any SSL brand can secure.

Yet, one point you should keep in mind while buying a Wildcard SSL certificate is that you will secure all your subdomains with the same data as the main domain. Hence if the certificate details get leaked or one of the subdomains gets compromised, all the subdomains might be at risk.

Therefore, using a Wildcard SSL certificate is advisable if your website and subdomains collect users’ basic information and don’t deal with crucial banking or personal information such as Social Security Numbers or Credit and Debit Card numbers.

So, how do you install a Wildcard SSL certificate on your website and subdomains? Worry not. We have prepared everything you need to know.

How to install a Wildcard Certificate on your site?

Here’s a 4-step process to help you buy and install a Wildcard SSL certificate.

Step 1: Purchase or Buy Wildcard SSL Certificate

Multiple brands sell Wildcard SSL certificates. You can choose the brand that matches your requirements, purse and the warranty level you desire. A Wildcard SSL Certificate price depends on validation level and the SSL brands.

Some of the major SSL brands are:

  • Comodo
  • Sectigo
  • Certera
  • DigiCert

Step-2: Generate a CSR (Certificate Signing Request) and Private Key

Certificates are signed by the CAs (Certificate Authority). The CA will need to validate that you are the person asking for a secure SSL Wildcard certificate on your website and you are who you say you are.

You will need to fill out a form that will ask you for following information:

  • Common Name (Domain Name)
  • Organization
  • Email Address
  • State / County / Region
  • Country
  • City / Locality

You are submitting a request for a Wildcard SSL certificate. Therefore, it is necessary to write the common name as “*.yourdomainname.com.”

Once you submit the details, you will get the CSR code and private key file. Save the code and the private key file since you will need both in the next step.

Return to the SSL provider and submit your CSR to regenerate your SSL certificate in a “.cert” file

Step-3: Upload Private Key and .cert File to Your Server

Next, you need to upload the certificate details to your server. Finally, you need to go to your server and find an option that says “Add Custom SSL Certificate.”

Once you insert your private key and .cert file on your server, you need to click on “Submit” or “Confirm,” whichever option for submitting the data is shown on the window.

Step-4: Confirm the Installation of Certificate

You can use the SSL checker tool available in the market to check if your Wildcard SSL certificate is installed on your server. This information would be enough for you to understand how you can install the certificate.

Final Words

The Wildcard SSL certificates are an ever-efficient tool that you can use to secure the subdomain of your website that collects basic personal information from the users. We understood the features, working and installation of the certificate and how it differs from regular SSL certificates. With all the knowledge we have put into what is wildcard ssl cert article, we hope it was helpful for you.

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