Subject Alternative Name Wildcard SSL Certificate: Everything You Need to Know

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Are you looking for the right SSL certificate for your website but feeling confused about which one to buy? Who wouldn’t? There are so many types of SSL/TLS certificates available in the market that selecting the most suitable SSL certificate can be a daunting process. In this article, we are going to discuss one of the most versatile SSL certificates — the SSL subject alternative name wildcard.

What is an SSL Subject Alternative Name Wildcard?

A subject alternative name wildcard is also known as a SAN wildcard and a multi-domain wildcard. Essentially, it’s a combination of a wildcard SSL certificate and a multi-domain SSL certificate. Still not following? Let’s break it down a bit more:

Wildcard SSL: This type of certificate secures one fully qualified domain name (FQDN) as well as an unlimited number of its accompanying subdomains on a single level (such as all first-level subdomains).

SAN certificate: This type of SSl certificate, on the other hand, secures multiple domain names under a single certificate. One domain should be listed as the FQDN, and all other additional domains can be added as extra SANs (subject alternative names). SAN certificates are also known as also multi-domain certificates. Additional SANs can be different domains, subdomains (any level) and domains with different top-level domains (TLDs) i.e. .in, .net, .org, .tech, .io, etc.

SAN Wildcard: This covers one FQDN and multiple domains/SANs, and unlimited subdomains.

Example of domain coverage:

Wildcard SSL Multidomain SSL Subject Alternative Name Wildcard
site1.com

blog.site1.com

test.site1.com

payment.site1.com

vendors.site1.com

dev.site1.com
site1.com

site1.net

site2.org

siteNew.com

blog.site2.org
posts.blog.site1.org

test.dev.site1.net  
site1.com

blog.site1.com

test.site1.com

payment.site1.com

vendors.site1.com

dev.site1.com

site1.net

site2.org

siteNew.com

blog.site2.org

posts.blog.site1.org

test.dev.site1.net  

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Why is an SSL Subject Alternative Name Wildcard Certificate Needed?

Both wildcard and SAN certificates have their own limitations.

A wildcard certificate can’t secure multiple domains. It can’t even secure the same domain with a different TLD. Plus, the only first level of subdomain can be secured. For that, you need to buy a separate wildcard for each of the additional levels of subdomains.

A multi-domain SSL certificate can secure only three to five SANs, and you need to pay extra for securing additional SANs. That means, if you have many subdomains, you need to pay extra for securing each of the subdomains and list them as a separate SAN.

In both the above scenarios, you need to pay extra money or buy separate SSL certificates. Needless to say, it increases the certificate management efforts, too! This means you’ll need to go through certificate signing request (CSR) generation, validation and installation, and renewal processes multiple times — which, to us, seems like a complete waste of time and money.

To aid this situation, certificate authorities came up with a new product, the SAN wildcard. SAN wildcard removes the disadvantages of both individual types of SSL certificates, i.e., wildcard and SAN certificates. The multi-domain wildcard is the “one-size-fits-all” solution for many companies and developers. Now, you can secure everything — multiple domains, domains with different TLDs, multiple levels of unlimited subdomains — all under the same SSL certificate. Just go through the installation process once, and you’re done! It really is that easy.

Validation Level

A SAN wildcard is available in domain validation (DV) and organization validation (OV) only. A DV certificate is preferable for any website that doesn’t handle users’ confidential information, examples of which include freelancers, bloggers, start-ups, non-profits, and small businesses. OV certificates, on the other hand, are for legally registered companies that have physical addresses.

How Much Does a Subject Alternative Name Wildcard Certificate Cost?

PositiveSSL Multi-Domain Wildcard Sectigo OV Multi-Domain Wildcard SSL Certificate
Lowest Available Price $159 .20/year $639.20/year
Warranty $50,000 $1,000,000
Validation Level Domain Validation Organization Validation
Includes 1 main domain FQDN + 2 different SANs with the option of purchasing additional coverage (for up to a total of 2,000 domains) + unlimited subdomains 1 main domain FQDN + 2 different SANs with the option of purchasing additional coverage (for up to 2,000 additional SANs) + Unlimited subdomains
Browser Security Indicators It enables a padlock icon to appear in the web address bar. Enables a padlock icon to appear in the web address bar and your organization’s name to be listed in the certificate information.
Eligibility Any website that doesn’t collect or handle users’ personal information. Most suitable for freelancers, bloggers, start-ups, and small businesses. Only legally registered organizations with a physical address.
Subdomains included Unlimited Unlimited
Cost to Cover Additional Domains and Subdomains $78.40/year per additional domain $119.20/year per additional domain
Type of Site Seal Dynamic Dynamic
Support 24/7 Live 24/7 Live
Buy Now Buy Now

Save 60% on Subject Alternative Name Wildcard!

Get the lowest prices on trusted SSL certificates from Sectigo.

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