A Wildcard SSL Certificate Means Full Website Security Coverage
As technology continually evolves around SSL certificates and validation processes, Certificate Authorities (CAs) have been able to offer a greater range of products for customers. This is perfect for the smaller ecommerce site or a blog and it is also a great option for very large ecommerce site with hundreds and thousands of pages and products.
To understand the value of SSL/TLS, particularly the Wildcard option for larger sites, let's start with the basics and work to the more complicated or complex issues with the product.
What Is SSL?
To get started in talking about the fact that a Wildcard SSL certificate means full security for your main domain and subdomains, we need to go back and look at the basics of SSL/TLS.
You will see security certificates listed as both SSL and TLS. SSL is the original security developed by Netscape in 1994. Newer versions of the same technology are now referred to as TLS or Transport Layer Security. However, they both provide the same level of transmission of encrypted data between a browser and a specific server or servers through the use of keys.
In a very simplified description of the technology the keys and the SSL cert together form a check system. The server will be used to create a Certificate Signing Request or CSR that creates two files. These two files include the private key and the actual certificate information.
This is sent into a Certificate Authority, like Comodo, and we validate the information on a specific level. This can be domain, organizational or extended validation.
Within just minutes for the domain and organization validation SSL products, including our Wildcard SSL, we send files back to you. This will include the certificate and public key as well as intermediate certificates required to create the chain of trust.
The files are installed on the server along with the private key file that was generated on that particular server during the CSR. Our root certificate is already embedded in 99.9% of major browsers and devices, so they recognize our certificate and the public key combination.
When the specific website on the SSL makes a connection to the server when a customer clicks on the page, an SSL handshake occurs. This includes the website and the server sending information back and forth to verify they are secure. This is done through a 2048 bit signature encryption and utilizes the public key and the certificate information, including the intermediate certificates in the chain.
Once this handshake is completed and the server is seen as a trusted source by the website, the information from the website to the server is transmitted along this secure path through the use of 256-bit encryption. There is just one IP address for each certificate, unless you are using a Multi Domain, UC certificate or a Wildcard SSL certificate.
The private key is only on the server (or for a Wildcard on the servers you select), and it is the only way to decrypt the encrypted information. In other words, the data is not in accessible form to any other server(s).
The use of the Wildcard SSL certificate means that the certificate is designed to work with both the main domain as well as all of the subdomain. In the example above the SSL handshake can only occur between a specific client and the server(s) with the certificate and the private key installed because it is a one to one validation.
The Fully Qualified Domain Name or Common Name (www.example.com) only applies to that one unique main domain. To avoid having to have a different certificate for each subdomain, such as mail.example.com or photos.example.com, the Wildcard SSL is used.
The Wildcard SSL certificate means that instead of the FQDM starting with the "www" subdomain indicator, this is replaced with the wildcard placeholder. This is always the asterisk or (*) symbol. So the CSR and the information on the certificate shows *.example.com. The use of the (*) allows all of the subdomains under that main domain (example.com) to be covered by the one certificate.
To find out what the Wildcard SSL certificate means with regards to cost savings for your website, contact our sales team at +1 888 266 6361 or through the live chat system on https://www.instantssl.com. You can also browse around the site to find out prices for the Wildcard SSL and compare it to the other options we offered to get the most cost-effective security option.