Wildcard SSL: Should You Be Wild About Them?

January 10, 2014 | By Kevin Judge

If your web sites need SSL for subdomains a Wildcard SSL Certificate could be a great option. You can be purchase one that will cover a domain and all its subdomains.

For example, you can apply one that covers peanutbutter.com, crunchy.peanutbutter.com, smooth.peanutbutter.com and fatfree.peanutbutter.com

They save costs and are easy for system administrators to manage because they apply to an unlimited number of subdomains. Other certificates have to be purchased and installed for each individual site.

Sounds great, but like most questions in life, the answer to whether you choose a Wildcard SSL is “it depends.” There are a few things you need to consider before “going wild”!

Have You Done a Cost Comparison?

First, do you need protect enough subdomains to make it worth it? You pay more for the Wildcard than for a comparable single domain certificate.

For example, as of today a Comodo Premium SSL starts at $116.95 per year while the Comodo Premium Wildcard SSL starts at $334.95.

That means that if you protect a domain and two subdomains you do a little better than breakeven in cost by choosing the Wildcard SSL. After that, there is no additional cost for any additional subdomain that you want to protect.

Once you hit the break even with three sites, you save $1002 for every 3 additional subdomains you protect with the same certificate, in this case.

Sound good so far?

If so, there is still more to consider.

What Level of Validation is Right for You?

Before you commit to using Wildcard SSLs you need to consider the level of validation that you want to present to your users. Wildcard SSLs are issued with Organization Validation. This is considered a “High Level” of assurance because it goes beyond simple Domain Validation, which only checks that the subscriber requesting the certificate owns the site’s domain.

With Organization Validation we make sure that they are who they say they are. We use third parties to confirm their name, their location and that the party requesting the SSL is authorized to use it on behalf of that organization.

With Organization Validation you can display our Trust Seal to ensure your visitors that they can trust your site in communicating personal information.

Sound good? Sure does!

There is one more thing, though.

You have to pause and consider that, Wildcard SSL’s are not issued for Extended Validation (EV). An exhaustive review is required to issue an EV SSL that ensures that the reliability and propriety of the site owner.

The Wildcard SSL may be appropriate in most of the situations you are considering. However, for financial transactions such as e-Commerce we strongly recommend that you use an EV SSL to protect your customers and your business reputation.

For many, the best choice could be a combination of Wildcard SSLs and EVs. It’s your choice, but chooses wisely!

 

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