This article will guide you through the nitty-gritty details of what you should know about the wildcard SSL certificate. It will explain what Wildcard SSL certificates are, how they operate, their benefits, where to buy them, and finish by explaining a simple step-by-step guide on installing them. So, without much ado, let us get started by understanding what Wildcard SSL certificates are.
What is Wildcard SSL?
We all know how significant SSL certificates can be for a website. They are the backbone of website security because of their unique ability to initiate HTTPS encrypted sessions. Once the certificate is installed on the website, all communications between web servers and browsers happen via ciphertext and not plain text, as is the case where a website does not have an SSL certificate. Many types of SSL exist depending on various needs and website requirements. Apart from the validation level, SSL certificates can also be classified based on the number of domains or subdomains they secure.
The wildcard SSL is a single SSL certificate that includes a wildcard character (*) inside the domain name field and is capable of securing multiple subdomains of the primary domain field. With a wildcard certificate, a website does not have to purchase a different certificate for every subdomain. A single certificate will be enough to take care of the main domain and all subdomains (unlimited) attached to it.
How Does Wildcard SSL Certificate Work?
Typically, an SSL certificate is meant to secure a single subdomain. Let us assume the SSL certificate is meant for www.primarydomain.com. Such a certificate would not secure any other domain such as blog.primarydomain.com.
However, the case is different for wildcard SSL certificates as it will take care of both the primary domain and all the additional subdomains falling under it.
For our example above, the certificate will secure www.primarydomain.com and all other subdomains such as mail.primarydomain.com, login.primarydomain.com, and blog.primarydomain.com, among others. Please note that these are first-level subdomains. Suppose you want the certificate to cover second-level subdomains. In that case, you will need an additional wildcard SSL certificate.
Where to Get Wildcard SSL Certificates
Like all digital certificates, SSL certificates are offered by digital certificate providers. If you are looking for a certificate, you should contact a certificate authority or reseller. You have adequately of preferences at your disposal. Some of the best Wildcard SSL certificates include the following:
- AlphaSSL Wildcard Certificate
- Comodo Positive SSL Wildcard Certificate
- Sectigo Positive SSL Wildcard
- Comodo Essential Wildcard SSL
Benefits of Wildcard Certificate
Many benefits come with using wildcard SSL certificates. In this segment, we will argue some of the advantages.
1. Security for all Subdomains
The first benefit of Wildcard SSL certificates is quite obvious. The work of SSL certificates is to ensure that all online communications between servers and browsers are encrypted. Through encryption, the certificates protect the users from adverse impacts of data breaches. But it is the best idea to have all components of your website encrypted, and this is why you must get an SSL certificate that secures an unlimited number of subdomains. The more subdomains covered, the more secure your website will be.
2. Easy SSL certificate Management
Imagine a scenario where you have a website with fifty subdomains that need to be covered by an SSL certificate. If you are using single domain certificates, then it means you will have to acquire fifty SSL certificates, get all fifty certificates issued, install the certificates individually, and conduct fifty server configurations to run all the certificates. When the certificates expire, you need to renew them one after the other. How hectic could that be?
But with a wildcard certificate, everything becomes simplified for you. For your primary domain and your fifty subdomains, all you need is a single certificate, and you will be good to go. It means that you only need one SSL issuance, a single installation, and a one-time server configuration, and when the time for renewal comes, you need a single renewal.
Consider the example we just saw above. Acquiring fifty single domain certificates means paying the price for every domain. In the long run, you end up spending more than you should. Wildcard SSL certificates tend to be more cost-effective since you only pay a single price for all the subdomains. It does not matter with you are covering five hundred subdomains. A single purchase of the wildcard is all you have to spend.
4. Search Engine Optimization
One thing that defines the success of a website is its visibility in search engines. SEO is important, especially if you are running an eCommerce store. You want your client and potential customers to find you, and a wildcard certificate will help you with that. Search engines prefer ranking HTTPS websites ahead of HTTP websites. You want every component of your website and all web pages to be visible in search engines and outrank competitors’ pages. One strategy you can use to achieve this visibility is by using a wildcard SSL certificate.
Steps to Install/Set Up Wildcard SSL for Subdomain
Knowing that you need a wildcard SSL certificate and having the certificate installed and properly running on all your subdomains are two different things. This section will explore a step-by-step guide on how to install and configure a wildcard SSL certificate on your website.
Step 1: Log in to your cPanel
First, you will have to log in to your cPanel using your user name and password. You must then open the SSL/TLS tab. You can do that by typing “SSL” in the search tab.
Step 2: If you had generated the certificate signing request using the cPanel, you must use the following navigation path- Generate, view, upload, or delete your private keys. Otherwise, if you had done it outside the cPanel and you already possess the private key file, then you can use the following navigation path- Generate, view, upload private keys. This will allow you to upload the private key before uploading the certificate.
Step 3: You should now move to the SSL page and upload a new certificate. You can do this by scrolling down past all available certificates until you arrive at the sectioned title Upload New certificate. There are two effective methods for uploading the certificate. First, you can paste the contents of the file into the field marked paste the certificate into the following text box. Secondly, you can select the file by browsing your unzipped file.
Step 4: Click Go Back. Now, click on Return to SSL Manager.
Now, Click on Setup a SSL Certificate to work with your site. Choose the domain name from drop down menu. It will fetch private key and a certificate. In the CA Bundle box, paste the conten of root and intermediate certificate.
Just click on Install SSL certificate option. A dialogue box will appear to indicate that your wildcard SSL certificate has been properly installed.
Wildcard SSL certificates bring lots of benefits to your website, so you should be willing to try them. What is the point of buying several certificates for all your subdomains when you can get a wildcard certificate to cover all the subdomains? This article has briefly explored the subject of wildcard SSL certificates. It has explained what the certificates are, how they operate, their advantages, and the installation procedure.