Let's Encrypt brings free wildcard certificates to the web

The CA's new certificate option will give webmasters another tool to encrypt the internet.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
Christopher Schirner

Let's Encrypt is introducing wildcard security certificates early next year in response to requests from the certificate authority's (CA) community.

On Thursday, the CA, which has now issued over 100,000,000 free certificates online, said that by January 2018 wildcard security certificates will be made available to webmasters and developers.

When Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificates are utilized, they add an additional layer of encryption which helps protect communication between server and user from eavesdropping, man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attacks, and data theft.

Wildcard certificates work in the same way as traditional TLS certificates but can make deployment a less time-consuming process as they can be used to secure a domain and unlimited sub-domains on a single certificate.

Wildcard options are one of the most commonly requested features of the Let's Encrypt community, and the non-profit has acknowledged that "there are some use cases where they make HTTPS deployment easier."

"Our hope is that offering wildcards will help to accelerate the web's progress towards 100 percent HTTPS," Let's Encrypt said.

The wildcard certificates will be offered through the organization's ACME v2 API endpoint. However, the free certificates will only initially be available for base domain validation via DNS for wildcard certificates -- at least, while the project rolls out initially.

"With wildcards now being offered, organizations who wish to use Let's Encrypt can now fully automate their certificate issuance processes," said Ivan Ristić, ISRG technical advisor. "This is a significant milestone because it will remove manual operations and further reduce friction on the road to a fully encrypted web."

See also: Let's Encrypt reaches one million certificate encryption milestone

In April, the company announced the Let's Encrypt free certificate program was leaving beta after four months of testing and issuing 1.5 million HTTPS certificates to roughly three million websites internationally.

Top tips to stay safe on public Wi-Fi networks

Editorial standards