Wildcard SSL Certificates

wildcard ssl certificates

One of the most important aspects of your ecommerce website is Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protection. This is an encryption application that protects personal information that is shared on your business websites. Having this encryption helps customers feel secure on your site, since it makes it difficult for third parties to intercept their personal payment information. It is a good idea to have an SSL certificate. But what if you have subdomains? It can be expensive to buy SSL certificates for all your subdomains. In this case, you can get a wildcard SSL certificate to cover all of your subdomains.

What is a subdomain?

Before discussing wildcard SSL certificates, it is a good idea to understand what subdomains are. A subdomain is another Web address that shares a common domain name. For example, if your domain is www.businesswebsite.com, you might have different subdomains such as www.payment.businesswebsite.com and www.blog.businesswebsite.com. In a regular case, you would have to buy an SSL certificate for each of those domains – even though they are all related. In order to avoid buying all new SSL certificates, it is possible to get a wildcard SSL certificate that can cover all of those subdomains.

Wildcard SSL certificates

When you buy a wildcard SSL certificate, you can use it to encrypt all of the subdomains. However, it is important that the there is a common factor in the domain names. In our example, the wildcard SSL certificate will only apply to additional domains that share the businesswebsite.com part of the address. You will have to plan ahead, however, since many companies will require that you list the planned domain names. Or you might have to use some other designation to ensure that your wildcard SSL certificate is properly issued and installed. Wildcard SSL certificates can cost anywhere from $350 to more than $2,000, depending on how many subdomains you want, and the level of security you choose.

Drawbacks to wildcard SSL certificates

While there are definite advantages to having a wildcard SSL certificate, there are also some drawbacks. Some of the issues that you might run into with wildcard SSL certificates include:

  1. Security reduction: While there is still the encryption for all subdomains, it is important to note that no security is completely full proof. It is always possible, on some level, to breach security. The problem with the wildcard SSL certificate is that if just one of your subdomains is compromised, they all are. If you buy separate certificates, each subdomain is individually protected, so that if security is breached in your payment subdomain, the rest of them remain intact.
  2. Management issues: While a wildcard SSL certificate can make things easier by putting all of your encryption needs in one SSL certificate, it can also cause problems. Consider: If you need to revoke the SSL certificate on one subdomain, it will have to be revoked on all the others.
  3. Compatibility problems: In some cases, older configurations of clients and servers do not really understand wildcard SSL certificates. It may be that they are not compatible with your wildcard SSL certificate. It may be necessary to add some code or make some changes in order to get your older server to recognize and work with your wildcard SSL certificate.
  4. Warranty protection issues: Another thing to keep in mind is that some SSL certificate providers do not offer warranties on their wildcard SSL certificates. This means that if you want to get an extended guarantee, it might not be possible.

Before you get a wildcard SSL certificate, make sure you understand the requirements of having one for your ecommerce website. Make sure that wildcard SSL certificates are compatible with your set-up, and consider what you might need to change in order to bring things up to spec.