What is a Wildcard SSL?

Rohan Mathew

What is a Wildcard SSL

The world of SSL can be a bit confusing if you’re unfamiliar with it. What’s with all the different SSL types, and what exactly are they for? If that sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place. This article will focus on dispelling all the mysteries surrounding Wildcard SSL. Read on to find out what it’s for and whether you need one.

The purpose of Wildcard SSL

To explain what a Wildcard SSL does, it’s easier to define what an SSL certificate is first. SSL is a type of digital certificate that you can install on your site’s server to ensure secure communications between your site and anyone browsing it. It does this by establishing an encrypted link between a user’s browser (client) and your site (the server). Encryption renders any data sent over the link unreadable to anyone except the validated users on either side. This protects privacy and keeps sensitive information safe. 

A wildcard certificate does just that, except its purpose is to protect a primary website and multiple subdomains linked to it.

The benefits of a Wildcard

So, as you’ve probably figured out, Wildcard SSL certificates are most beneficial to those who have a few subdomains in their website arsenal. When you install it on the server, it will automatically protect your main domain, subdomains of one level linked currently to it, (for example.com, this would be *.example.com), as well as any subdomains you create in the future. In fact, there is no limit to the subdomains to be protected, so feel free to go wild! The more subdomains you have, the better value a Wildcard becomes. 

If you have subdomains, the main advantage a Wildcard has over other SSL certificates is the convenience. Sure, you could secure each subdomain with an individual certificate, but why would you want to? The more subdomains you have, the more certificates you would have to keep track of. 

Once an SSL certificate’s expiration date lapses, your site becomes insecure. The most recent rules for SSL dictate that an SSL lifespan can be no more than one year before you  should replace it with a new one. When you have multiple expiration dates to keep track of for renewal, the likelihood of forgetting dates increases. When you only have to keep track of one expiration date, you can rest easy knowing that your domain and subdomains will stay up and running safely. 

Wrap up

If you have a primary domain and multiple subdomains, there is a clear winner regarding the most convenient way to keep it secure – WIldcard SSL certificates.