What is Double Wildcard SSL Certificate and How Do I Get One?

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Once in a while, we get an uncommon question such as “what is a double subdomain wildcard” or “what is a double wildcard SSL certificate” and how do you get one? And our response is usually some combination of “what do you mean by double subdomain?” and “no, a double wildcard SSL certificate is not really a thing.” Ergo, you can’t get one. Yeah, that’s the sound of your bubble bursting.

But here’s the thing — you’re probably referring to multi-level subdomains but just aren’t using the right verbiage. We can help you fix that.

Subdomains: How URLS Break Down

The way a URL is structured is like this:

Subdomain3.Subdomain2.Subdomain1.Domain.TLD/Directory

Most websites only have subdomains at a single level, they look like this:

  • mail.domain.com
  • login.domain.com
  • members.domain.com

You’ve likely seen that before. But there are subdomain levels beyond just that. You can also have:

  • company.mail.domain.com
  • listserve.mail.domain.com
  • employees.login.domain.com

… And so on and so forth.

Why There Isn’t a “Double Wildcard SSL Certificate” for Multiple Subdomains

The problem with this — and the reason there’s no double subdomain wildcard — is that it becomes more and more difficult to secure subdomains at higher levels due to the fact URLs branch. Unilaterally securing all subdomains at every level with a wildcard would be too easy to abuse. This is why wildcard certificates can only secure subdomains at one designated level of the URL.

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When you create a standard wildcard, you place the wildcard character at the subdomain level you wish to secure and encrypt. Again, usually it’s level one. It gets more complicated at level two, though. Here’s why: You see the example we used above? It would take three wildcard SSL certificates to secure all of those variations. This means you’d need:

  • *.domain.com
  • *.mail.domain.com
  • *.login.mail.domain.com

See how the URL branches?

So, How Can I Secure Multiple Levels?

Unfortunately, there’s not a standard wildcard solution for this kind of web architecture. However, we do have a solution for you. A multi-domain wildcard SSL certificate can also be used as a multi-level wildcard. Multi-domain wildcards use wildcard SANs, you can include an asterisk in them. So, using a multi-domain wildcard enables you to secure all the sites we listed above with just a few wildcard SANs — all on the same SSL certificate.

Even if you may not have been sure how to correctly phrase what you’re looking for, we’re confident that this answered your question.

So, there you go.

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