Difference Between Wildcard SSL, Multi Domain SSL & EV SSL Certificate

Although SSL certificates have been around for more than 10 years, they are still an enigma to many website owners. If you intend to acquire one for your website, gaining a good understanding of what is in the market can be a real advantage.

In general, there are several types of SSL certificates which can be grouped based on two considerations: Validation type and the number of secured domains or subdomains. Under validation level, there are 3 types of SSL certificates, namely: Domain Validation (DV), Organization Validation (OV) and Extended Validation (EV).

Under the number of secured domains/subdomains consideration, there are 3 types, that is, Single Domain SSL, Wildcard SSL, and Multi-Domain SSL also known as SAN (Subject Alternative Names) SSL certificates. The purpose of the latter group is to give flexibility to the former group such that clients can find a certificate that can secure extra domains and subdomains of websites.

Here are the

Difference Between Wildcard SSL, Multi Domain SSL & EV SSL Certificate


WildCard SSL

Difference Between Wildcard SSL, Multi Domain SSL & EV SSL Certificate

Unlike a multi-domain SSL certificate which can secure several domains and subdomains, a Wildcard SSL certificates can only secure subdomains of the domain name in the certificate.

However, the advantage of a Wildcard SSL certificate is that it allows a user to secure an unlimited number of subdomains.

A subdomain is the section of a URL that precedes the domain name. For instance, if domain.com is the domain name of your company, its subdomains could be mail.domain.com, blog.domain.com etc.

A Wildcard SSL certificate attracts the same benefits associated with a multi-domain certificate. It saves the money that could have been used to acquire more certificates and it reduces the administrative work of operating many SSL certificates.

Multi-Domain SSL Certificate

Difference Between Wildcard SSL, Multi Domain SSL & EV SSL Certificate

The choice of Multi-Domain SSL certificate is dictated by the factor ‘requirement to secure a number of different domains and subdomains’.

You can secure one domain at the same time also and add other domains during SSL certificate lifecycle. But most people purchase this SSL certificate when having the requirement to secure multiple domain names.

Initially, an SSL certificate could only secure one domain. That meant that if you wanted to secure additional domains and subdomains, you were compelled to spend more since each domain and subdomain had to be secured by a separate certificate.

CAs developed additional features to give SSL certificates the much-needed flexibility and that was the advent of Multi-Domain and Wildcard SSL certificate.

As the name suggests, Multi-Domain SSL certificates allow users to secure multiple domain names (websites) and subdomains with a single certificate.

Different certificate authorities have placed different limits to the number of domain names that can be secured by a single Multi-Domain certificate. For instance, multi domain SSL of Comodo and Geotrust can secure up to 100 domain names while similar certificate support from Symantec allows 25 more domain names.

The benefit of using a multi-domain SSL certificate is that it is a cheaper alternative to buying a separate SSL certificate for each domain name you want to secure.

For example, if your company has 3 unique brands, you can create separate websites for each and secure them with one multi-domain SSL certificate.

A multi-domain certificate also removes the extra administrative work required to manage more than one SSL certificate.

EV SSL Certificate

Difference Between Wildcard SSL, Multi Domain SSL & EV SSL Certificate


The EV SSL certificate offers the highest level of data encryption. That has made it the certificate of choice for banks, financial institutions, e-commerce sites and government entities that transmit highly confidential information.

The other two benefits of EV SSL certificates are:

  • Foster Customer/Client Confidence

Unlike DV and OV SSL certificates which can be issued in a matter of minutes, issuance of EV SSL certificates is preceded by a strict authentication process that may take a while. An authentication process is basically a background check that a certificate authority (CA) does to ascertain that a company seeking EV certification actually exists, is operating legally, and the website involved is the official website of the company and not an impostor website.

Therefore, as a website owner, what an EV SSL does for you is that it assures your customers or clients that your website is legitimate which foster trust and boost your sales conversion rate.

  • Decrease Phishing Scams

Phishing is possibly the biggest scam that hackers use to swindle unsuspecting online buyers. What makes phishing prevalent is the inability of these buyers to distinguish between a legitimate website and a fake one. Luckily, EV SSL-secured websites bear two visual clues on their user interface that any buyer can look out for to identify the legitimate website.

The first is a green padlock and the second is the name of the company displayed in the address bar with green text.


In conclusion, EV SSL, Multi-Domain, and Wildcard SSL certificate are versatile. While they may offer users virtually the same benefits but they are still distinct as per domain security & higher level of business authentication requirement. If you want a higher level of trust of the user/customers on the website and secure their data with a highest validation SSL certificate, go to EV SSL certificate. Use a Wildcard certificate if you only have the requirement to secure one domain name and its number of subdomains. If you have a requirement for more than one domain name, a multi-domain certificate is best suited.


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