What is a SAN Certificate and How Does SAN SSL Work to Secure My Site?

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We’ll break down what is SAN certificate is SSL and why it matters to your organization

SANs. Hardly anyone seems to love acronyms as much as IT and infosec professionals. Well, except maybe government or medical professionals… but, you get the point. However, what is SAN in SSL? You’re likely here because you’re wondering “what is a SAN certificate” and how is it useful? Well, you’ve come to the right place for an answer. This is kind of our area, after all.

Let’s break it down.

What Is a SAN SSL Certificate in SSL/TLS?

In IT, a SAN could mean a storage area network. But in the case of SSL/TLS, which is what we’re talking about in this article, it means “subject alternative name.” A SAN is a field that allows you to specify the host names that will be covered under a single SSL certificate. A SAN SSL certificate can secure both internal and external domain names using industry standard 128-256-bit encryption.

But, wait, covering multiple domains – isn’t that the job of a multi domain SSL certificate?

Yes, right you are. Because not all servers allow for multiple certificates to be installed, it’s useful (and often times more cost effective) to use one certificate instead of multiple to cover all of your domains. Hence, a multi-domain certificate. However, these certificates are sometimes referred to a SAN SSL certificates or even UCC SSL certificates, a term that stands for “unified communications certificates.” The biggest difference is that a UCC was originally designed specifically for Microsoft’s Exchange and Communications servers (however, UCC certificates can now be installed on other servers as well).

Purchase SAN Certificate/Multi-Domain SSL & Save Up to 88%!

We offer the best discount on all types of SAN SSL Certificates (Multi-Domain SSL). We offer certificates from the leading CAs, including Comodo CA, Sectigo, Thawte, and GeoTrust with SAN certificates starting as low as $18.02 per year.

Shop SAN SSL Certificates

SAN Certificates Validation Needs Warranty Amount Issuance Time Cheapest Price
Comodo Positive Multi-Domain SSL Domain $10K Minutes $18.02/yr. READ MORE
Sectigo OV SSL Multi-Domain/UCC Domain +
Basic Business
$1MM 1-3 Days $73.70/yr. READ MORE
Comodo DV UCC SSL Domain $25K Minutes $93.30/yr. READ MORE
QuickSSL Premium SAN (Sub-Domains) Domain $500K Minutes $96.69/yr. READ MORE
Comodo Multi-Domain SSL Domain +
Basic Business
$250K 1-3 Days $101.14/yr. READ MORE
Comodo UCC SSL Domain +
Basic Business
$250K 1-3 Days $101.92/yr. READ MORE
Sectigo UCC SSL Domain +
Basic Business
$1MM 1-3 Days $101.92/yr. READ MORE
GeoTrust True BusinessID Multi-Domain Domain +
Basic Business
$1.25MM 1-3 Days $125.94/yr. READ MORE
PositiveSSL EV Multi-Domain Domain +
Basic Business
$1MM 1-3 Days $128.18/yr. READ MORE
Positive Multi-Domain Wildcard Domain $10K 1-3 Days $148.18/yr. READ MORE

Differentiating SAN vs Multi Domain SSL

A multi domain SSL certificate is a single certificate that covers multiple FQDN domains — or what are known as “fully qualified domain names” — such as www.domain.com or domain.com. These certificates typically include SAN fields that allow you to specify any additional host names you wish to secure. So, this means that most multi domain SSL certificates will allow you to secure multiple FQDN domains as well as hundreds of SANs.

One important note: The list of SANs you include on a certificate are public — meaning that if you don’t want people knowing that your domain is affiliated with another domain, it’s best not to list it on that certificate. So, if you’re a parent company that is known for selling vegetarian products but have another subsidiary that sells products containing animal byproducts, you may want to use a separate certificate.

How a SAN Certificate Works

Now that we’ve answered your original question about “what is a SAN SSL certificate,” let’s break down how it works. Let’s say, for example, that you have the domain “mydomain.com.” If you wanted to secure multiple domains, you could simply list them in the certificate’s SAN field. Examples of SAN domains include:

  • mydomain.com
  • mydomain.com
  • mydomain.com
  • mydomain.net
  • mydomain.com
  • mydomain.biz

… and so on and so forth. You get the idea.

Where to Find Your Certificate’s SAN Information

If you’re visiting a website that uses a multi-domain SSL certificate and decide to be nosey, you can see what other domains are covered under the certificate. Simply click on the padlock icon in your browser’s address bar and select Certificate. Under the Details tab, in the Show dropdown menu, select Extensions Only.

 

What is a SAN certificate graphic: certificate info window

Click the third option on the list, Subject Alternative Name, to see the list of SANs.

What is a SAN certificate graphic: The extensions only menu

So, that’s it. What, you were hoping for more? Well, we can point you in the direction of where to purchase a SAN certificate from your choice of industry-trusted certificate authorities (CAs). Be sure to check out our deals on Comodo PositiveSSL Multi-Domain SSL certificates: starts at $18.02 per year.

Compare Top SAN Certificates of 2020

Comodo Logo Thawte Logo Geotrust Logo Comodo Logo
Features Comodo Multi-Domain SSL Certificate Thawte Web Server SSL Certificate Geotrust True BusinessID Multi-Domain Comodo UCC SSL
Price for 1 year $129.00 $79.00 $155.00 $130.00
Price for 2 years $113.00/yr $69.00/yr $136.00/yr $114.00/yr
Price for 3 years $107.50/yr $65.83/yr $129.17/yr $108.33/yr
Price for 4 years $104.81/yr $64.19/yr $125.94/yr $105.62/yr
Price for 5 years $101.14/yr N/A N/A $101.92/yr
Multiple year options Yes Yes Yes Yes
Domains secured Secures WWW & NON-WWW Domain and up to 250 Multiple (FQDN) Domains Secures WWW & NON-WWW Domain and up to 250 Multiple (FQDN) Domains Secures WWW & NON-WWW Domain and up to 250 Multiple (FQDN) Domains Secures WWW & NON-WWW Domain and up to 250 Multiple (FQDN) Domains
Issuance speed 1-3 Days 1-3 Days 1-3 Days 1-3 Days
Total number of san domains 250 250 250 250
Free san included 2 N/A 4 2
Validation required Organization and Domain Validation Organization and Domain Validation Organization and Domain Validation Organization and Domain Validation
Notification level in browsers Domain Name and Business Name Shown on Certificate Domain Name and Business Name Shown on Certificate Domain Name and Business Name Shown on Certificate Domain Name and Business Name Shown on Certificate
Encryption strength 256-Bit SHA-2 256-Bit SHA-2 256-Bit SHA-2 256-Bit SHA-2
Browser compatibility 99.9 % 99.9 % 99.9 % 99.9 %
Includes site seal Comodo Site Seal Thawte Site Seal GeoTrust Site Seal Comodo Site Seal
Daily malware scanning No No No No
Free vulnerability assessment No No No No
Reissue Free Free Free Free
Server license Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Support options Yes Yes Yes Yes
Warranty $250,000 $1,250,000 $1,250,000 $250,000
Green address bar No No No No
Refund policy 15 Days 15 Days 15 Days 15 Days
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