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The Layman’s Guide To Understanding Wildcard SSL Certificates

As the digital footprints of businesses grow, so make the advances of cyberattackers. Whether you run a small business, an eCommerce store, a healthcare website, or even a blog that sells stuff occasionally, you could be on the radar of those trying to steal your customers’ Personally Identifiable Information, commonly referred to as PII.

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You might have come across many cybersecurity strategies to strengthen any chinks in your armor. One such suggestion would be to make the switch to HTTPS protocol. Simply put HTTP + SSL equals HTTPS. So, an SSL certificate is a protocol that ensures an encrypted and thereby secure connection for your in-transit information.

Such measures can keep hackers and sniffers at bay, thereby enhancing security and engendering improved customer trust. SSL certs are available in varying types and at different validation levels. One such highly employed kind is the wildcard certificates.

This article will walk you through the basics of wildcard SSL certificates, their usage, installation on multiple servers, and their benefits. So let’s get cracking!

Wildcard SSL Certificates – Meaning Decoded

Many times, webshop or business website owners have a common concern. They seek the perfect SSL product that is scalable and future-ready, not to mention cost-effective.

They have multiple first-level subdomains such as payments, blogs, product pages, etc., under one main domain to be secured. Such ventures also plan to add more such level-one subdomains over time.

To meet such bespoke needs, they found the perfect partner in wildcard SSL certificates. When installing one such certificate, you automatically afford unmatched security to an unlimited number of first-level subdomains under the preferred primary domain. Yes, you read that right, unlimited!

So, you no longer need to buy separate single-domain SSL certs for each new subdomain that you choose to add. Installing a wildcard certificate also eliminates the hassle of managing multiple certs.

You are wondering where to buy your wildcard cert from? Well, you could try contacting reliable SSL providers that deliver premium wildcard certificates from reputed CAs such as Positive SSL wildcard, or RapidSSL wildcard, etc., at pocket-friendly rates!

Understanding the Working of Wildcard Certificates

Let’s suppose that you own a primary domain by the name of xyz.com, and you desire to secure multiple first-level subdomains under it. So, you begin by adding an * character before the chosen main domain at the time of completing the Certificate Signing Request (CSR).

So, once you put the wildcard character before the chosen primary domain (SAN), you automatically secure n number of level one subdomains breath it such as,

  • Blog.xyz.com
  • Payment.xyz.com
  • Mail.xyz.com
  • Login.xyz.com

The best part about investing in a wildcard certificate is that you won’t have to re-issue your cert every time you add a new first-level subdomain because it will be automatically secured.

Any second-level subdomain, for example, gift.product.xyz.com, will not be secured. For securing such subdomains, you need to purchase another wildcard certificate.

Employing Wildcard Certificates on Multiple Servers

Prospective SSL buyers usually have this one common query. Can I install a single wildcard certificate on multiple servers? Well, the answer is a resounding yes! The CAs that issue such certs allow the installation of these certificates on numerous servers.

Enterprises often deploy multiple third-party integrations for enhanced functionality. For instance, your CMS may be hosted on one server while your CRM is on another. When you use a single wildcard certificate across different servers, you use the same private key provided by the primary domain server across all other servers.

However, you must maintain the confidentiality of the private key, as it takes just one server to be compromised, and the rest can become vulnerable too!

Use Cases & Benefits of Installing Wildcard Certificates

Wildcard certificates are the preferred cybersecurity product for many business ventures owing to their following unique features,

  • Cost-effective: Investing in a single wildcard SSL certificate proves to be a cost-effective option in the long run because it eliminates the extra costs of buying a new single-domain SSL cert for every new level one subdomain that you add.
  • Scalable: This is one cert that grows with you and doesn’t need to be re-issued every time you introduce a new subdomain under the main domain.
  • Eliminates certificate management hassles: You don’t need to keep track of the expiry dates of multiple certs. This allows you to focus on areas that actually need your attention, like other business investments!

Now that we know why these are super-beneficial and cost-effective options, let’s look at the use cases where they can be employed.

  • If you are a webshop owner with multiple first-level subdomains to secure and you plan to add many more!
  • The subdomains are hosted in a low-risk scenario where the private key doesn’t run the risk of being compromised.
  • Your SEO strategy leverages multiple domains for keyword rankings.

Choosing the right kind of SSL certificate is as important as buying and installing one. Compare your unique business needs with the features on offer before investing in one.

Key Takeaway

If you run an online business, you cannot afford to overlook the cybersecurity aspect. According to the findings of a report, $3.86 million is the average cost of a data breach globally. If you don’t want to see yourself on that list, you must invest in an SSL certificate. This move will keep Man-in-the-middle attacks at bay, improve customer trust and also enhance search engine rankings! Yes, Google rewards websites that employ HTTPS protocol over those that don’t. In the above piece, we have studied the offerings of wildcard certificates in detail. It is a boon for businesses with an unlimited number of first-level subdomains. It is indeed a much-in-demand cybersecurity product.

We now know about its meaning, benefits, use cases, and the possibility of installation on multiple servers. Are you wondering about its cons? The only thing you need to ensure is the safety and confidentiality of the private key to prevent the servers from getting compromised. Got queries and insights? Let us know in the comments box below!

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