What’s The Difference? Wildcard Certificate vs Regular SSL Certificate

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Similarities and differences between wildcard and standard SSL certificates

Now that HTTPS is a browser requirement for all websites, you may have some questions about what type of SSL certificate works best for your website. In order to serve your site via HTTPS, you’ll need to install an SSL certificate on your server and then configure your site to make HTTPS connections.

But before you can do that you will need to figure out what kind of SSL certificate to buy.

With that in mind, we’re going to compare two different certificate types: Wildcard SSL certificates and regular SSL certificates. By regular we mean your standard garden variety single domain certificate.

Wildcard Certificate vs Regular SSL Certificates: What’s The Same

Regardless of what type of SSL certificate you get, they both provide the same industry-standard encryption strength. Both come standard with 2048-bit RSA signature keys and facilitate encryption up to 256 bits. Frankly, your certificate has less to do with the actual strength of your encryption than your server and the client’s browsers do.

Additionally, both certificate types are universally trusted across all browsers when you purchase from Comodo.

Wildcard Certificate vs Regular SSL Certificates: The Key Difference

The major difference comes in terms of the website(s) they secure.

A “regular” SSL certificate provides encryption for one domain (and technically one sub-domain as Comodo SSL certificates will cover both the WWW and non-WWW versions of your website). Single domain SSL certificates are available at all three validation levels, including EV.

On the other hand, Wildcards secure websites with multiple sub-domains. When you create your certificate signing request during the purchase process, you simply put an asterisk at the domain level you want to encrypt. For instance: *.ComodoSSLstore.com

The SSL certificate can then be used to secure connections on any sub-domain at that sub-domain level. For example, blog.comodosslstore.com, support.comodosslstore.com, etc. As many sub-domains as you want. And if you add more while the certificate is valid it will secure connections on those, too.

Are there drawbacks to wildcard certificates?

Wildcards are a great option for a number of reasons, but there are also a couple of drawbacks.

Shared private key. The drawbacks come from sharing the same private key across all of your subdomains. If your entire site is on one server, that doesn’t really matter. But if your subdomains are on different servers, you’ll have to move/share your private key. If you are securing multiple public-facing sub-domains, a compromised key would impact the security of all of your subdomains instead of just one.

No EV option. Additionally, there is no EV option for Wildcards to activate the green address bar. That’s a security decision that will likely never change so if you want EV on your sub-domains it may be better to use an EV Multi-Domain certificate.

Wildcard Certificate vs Regular SSL Certificates: The Bottom Line

If your website has multiiple subdomains, you can save a lot of money by choosing a wildcard SSL certificate. There are a couple drawbacks, but for most sites, the pros far outweight the cons.

Wildcard SSL Certificates

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Compare Wildcard Certificates

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