What is a Wildcard Certificate?
When it comes to choosing a SSL certificate, there are a variety of ways to secure your domain name. An SSL certificate can offer the added insurance needed to encrypt private information and authenticate your site as a legitimate business or organization. There are instances, however, when sub-domains may need added protection as well. There may be separate mail servers or perhaps a shopping portal that needs a separate encryption base.
This is where a wildcard SSL certificate provides the advantageous setup for extra services.
Wildcard Certificate: Ease of Management
A wildcard certificate streamlines all of your sub-domains into one certificate. Normally, you would need to purchase a certificate for each sub-domain, but a wildcard certificate uses only one for each. This also allows for an easier way to manage security. Attempting to manage multiple domains can prove challenging. Adding multiple SSL certificates for these domains are difficult as a standard certificate. With a wildcard certificate, all security checks can be carefully renewed under one SSL certification process.
Wildcards function with the use of an asterisk and period just ahead of the domain name. This notation will provide full protection for each area of a sub-domain such as mail.subdomain.domain.com. You will need to be aware that a single certificate will be used for all areas of the sub-domain. The fact that a wildcard SSL certificate uses multiple domain notations also means that installation is fairly simple. This also translates into a simple process of transferring sites if you choose a new server to host from. The new host will simply install one new certificate.
Minor Limitations with Workarounds
1. By using only one SSL certificate with a private key on multiple servers, there can be a compromise on the server. This compromise can technically involve risk associated with accessing security keys. However, there are many workarounds to this issue. You can automatically renew certificates by creating as many as needed for all servers with a unique key. You can also pare up 256-bit encryption to increase security measures easily
2. Extended Validation Certificate can be used with a wildcard. However, one workaround for this issue is to add a virtual host name within the extension. The certificate will need to be reissued each time a virtual server is created. You can also add a wildcard as a domain in unified communications certificates.
Private connections, VPNs, and advanced 256-bit SSL are all compatible with a wildcard SSL certificates. In fact, coupling this feature with the wildcard will not only enhance security but will streamline the process of authenticating domains when launched on a virtual private network.
Why do I need a Wildcard Certificate?
If you are looking for a simple, quick solution to manage several areas of your website, a wildcard certificate may be the solution to provide the extra level of security. Enterprises and organizations can benefit from the flexibility of the security over practically unlimited sub-domains. If you ask yourself the questions regarding ease of installation, how often you need to renew a certificate, and if you are going to need to one certificate for your main site, you should carefully consider the added benefits of a wildcard certificate.
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