Wildcard Certification

Friday, September 18, 2015

Where affordability does not compromise online security

First things first. What exactly is a wildcard? In everyday terms, a “wild card” calls to mind a card that is used as a substitute for other cards. Google Search represents the wildcard by using an asterisk (*) in their search field. This means, while searching for a phrase for instance, you use the asterisk to replace a word or a letter anywhere in the string of words. Google will then help you “fill in the blanks”, furnishing results containing different alternatives to what the asterisk could stand for.

A Wildcard SSL Certification functions on the same principle. As with all SSLs, it serves as a tool to protect users who are web-surfing or sending out emails by encrypting data which is transmitted between the server and the web browser. However, where Wildcard stands apart from other SSL products is its ability to be flexible and provide protection not only to the parent domain, but also all of its subdomains as well.

Why is this useful?

Ordinarily, multiple domains will need to be covered by multiple certifications to ensure users are always protected. This will have adverse cost implications if you are running all these domains for your business at the same time. Not to mention, you will also have to take the time to renew certifications for each of these domains once it expires.

Wouldn’t it be great to spend all that time and money on some other activities instead of just looking after your domains all the time? Luckily, Wildcard Certification saves you from the headache of handling all these certifications by giving you the option to protect your domains and subdomains with just one certificate.

A quick look at the table below will show just how much you stand to benefit from a one-time investment. This is because, Wildcard Certification not only covers multiple domains, but you will be able to get maximum protection at a reasonable price. As such, you will not have to pay exorbitant amounts by purchasing certification for every one of the domain that you own.

  Single Domain 5 domains 10 domains
OV SSL Plus (1 year) S$ 229.00 S$ 1,145.00 S$ 2,290.00
EV SSL Plus (1 year) S$ 389.00 S$ 1,945.00 S$ 3,890.00
Wildcard (1 year) S$ 779.00 S$ 779.00 S$ 779.00

Note: Prices are based on 1-year subscription

So how does the Wildcard Certification work, really?

Take for instance, you own a domain called mybusiness.com. Simply by using one Wildcard Certificate (*.mybusiness.com), all subdomains related to your website will also be protected – at no additional cost. Also, whether they are blog.mybusiness.com, products.mybusiness.com and so forth, you don’t have to worry about actively managing different certificates for different domains. This certainly takes the administrative burden off the business owner who may want to focus on other more pressing matters on hand.

In addition, you’re not “tied” to any single subdomain as the Wildcard Certification allows you the flexibility to change, remove or add the subdomains without having to change the certification that comes with it. As such, you will just have to get your domain protected once, and it gives you the freedom to manage your website as you see fit.

Will just any Wildcard do?

That said, having that much flexibility to add, remove and change a sub-domain is bound to cause some problems if you do not choose the right product. With the lure of cheaper alternatives out in the market, one may be inclined to look for the cheapest alternatives and hope for the best.

Domain Validated (DV) Wildcard vs Organisation Validated (OV) Wildcard

With DV Wildcard offering the cheapest (sometimes free) and most basic protection for the users, one may be inclined to gravitate towards this instead of an OV Wildcard. However, while a DV Wildcard may serve its purpose, the threat of a “man in the middle” attack is great. Verification is only required through a domain name and an email address, but there is no way of knowing if the website is really legitimate in the first place. This may have disastrous consequences, especially if one considers a potential customer making a purchase on a website that looks similar to the original, but is run by hackers who are intent on stealing data.

On the other hand, OV verifies the existence of the business by checking if the domain is indeed attributed to the relevant business and if they are in good standing with related government bodies. This ensures that the users, and hence potential customers, are not exposed to fraudulent domains or phishing activities.

Who benefits most for this?

Bottom line is, tightly operated businesses will find that the Wildcard Certification offers a relief from the tedious administrative work of managing certificates. They get to enjoy industry level protection at an affordable price, ensuring that the customer transactions made online are safe and private. As such, there are still legitimate reasons to choose Wildcard Certification as a viable option for their company’s online security.

sheha sidek

About Sheha Sidek

Sheha is a writer with interests in cyber security and finance. At Cyber Secure Asia, she hopes to be the bridge between the “bits and bytes” language and the everyday readers. 

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