Multiple sub-domains? Play the wildcard!

If you are thinking of starting a website or online business, or moving part of your current business online you may well be accustomed to the need for SSL (or Secure Sockets Layer) but you may not be aware that there are several types of certificates available to suit the needs of different systems.

SSL is a protocol that facilitates the encryption of online data, generally used to protect communications between web browsers and servers, such as a consumer purchasing an item from on online vendor. Using SSL provides a secure, private connection across which information can be transferred safely. The use of SSL by online businesses greatly reduces the risk of customer data such as addresses or credit card details being stolen.

SSL protection is gained through the acquisition of an SSL certificate. The most common form of SSL certificate is the traditional model which offers the most basic form of cover. However, these traditional certificates are severely limited, especially in regard to larger operations, as they only provide protection for a single domain/sub-domain combination. If you are looking to protect multiple sub-domains under the same domain name, a good option may be a cheap wildcard SSL such as the one offered by Thawte.

Wildcard SSL certificates offer a cost effective and flexible alternative to traditional SSL certificates for those that are looking to protect multiple sub-domains, as long as the domain name remains the same. A Wildcard SSL will secure multiple sub-domains with a single certificate and can also act across multiple servers as long as they operate under the same domain name. As well as often being a more cost effective way of purchasing SSL protection, using a Wildcard SSL can also simplify installation, management and deployment.

Although Wildcard SSL does hold many benefits over traditional SSL it is limited by the fact that a single certificate will not protect multiple domain names. In order to protect multiple domain names with a single certificate SAN (Subject Alternative Names) SSL is required (this can also be referred to as Unified communications SSL).