SSL options are limited, but an SSL certificate Wildcard greatly expands that range. For the convenience of securing connections for a single domain and any number of subdomains, a single Wildcard can be used.
With wildcard certificates, your business can save a lot of money and avoid the trouble of managing multiple certificates. We’ll talk about the few times when wildcard certificates aren’t a good idea at the end of this article. Using an SSL certificate wildcard is easy.
How To Use Certificate Wildcard SSL
Make a CSR with a wildcard
You must fill out a certificate signing request when you order an SSL certificate (CSR). This CSR provides all the information necessary for CA to issue the certificate, including which domains should be protected. When you add data in the CSR for a Wildcard, you put an asterisk next to the sub-domain level you want to secure.
When CA issues the wildcard certificate based on that CSR, it can be used with any sub-domains at the same level as the asterisk. To continue with our example, the Wildcard would include all of the.com top-level domains. That allows you to use a single certificate to encrypt a whole domain and all its subdomains.
Install As Usual
When you set up a wildcard SSL certificate, you don’t have to do anything special. Installation is the same as with any other certificate. If you decide to expand your domain’s structure in the future, your wildcard certificate will already be in place to accommodate the new subdomains. This feature is called “future proof,” and it’s great.
When should you use an SSL certificate with wildcards?
Wildcard certificates are an excellent option for cost-conscious businesses that have sub-domains. In this situation, it’s impossible to argue against the benefits of a wild card:
- It’s much cheaper than encrypting each sub-domain separately.
- It’s easier to manage one certificate than many.
- It makes it easy to grow while keeping secure connections.
Wildcards are unique products that can be used in so many different ways. But there are a few times when it could be better to avoid a Wildcard.
Avoid wildcard certificates in high-security contexts
The encryption level of a Wildcard SSL certificate is the same as any other SSL certificate. But there is one thing about private keys that could go wrong. If you use the same certificate and private key on multiple servers, system administrators, and departments, there is a higher chance that your private key will get out, putting all sites at risk. So, if you work in a field that needs high security, you’ll want to use different certificates and keys for each department and system.
Don’t utilize a Wildcard for business authentication
At the level of Extended Validation, wildcards are unavailable. That’s mostly for security reasons; EV SSL requires the most scrutiny during validation, so just letting anyone host whatever they want at the sub-domain level is a bad idea. Business authentication, in the form of the EV green address bar for sub-domains, requires separate certificates for each sub-domain or a Multi-Domain certificate with the sub-domains listed as Subject Alternative Names (SANs).