Assuming this will be done with your own PKI, and not a public trusted CA.

Considering that *.sub.domain.com is valid, and so is *.domain.com is valid, is it technically possible to issue *.com and even a *. certificate?

The certificate I'm investigating is a "*." certificate being used for any other domain name such as "https://google.com" and then performing MITM attacks.

Will any certificate validation framework support a *. certificate? Will it be rejected outright, or will normal validation rules apply?

  • By "support", do you mean "is accepted" or "is accepted and matches every possible domain name"?
    – curiousguy
    Jun 13, 2012 at 22:05
  • @curiousguy - updated... does it result in every possible match? Jun 13, 2012 at 22:08

2 Answers 2


From RFC-2818 - HTTP Over TLS:

Matching is performed using the matching rules specified by [RFC2459]. If more than one identity of a given type is present in the certificate (e.g., more than one dNSName name, a match in any one of the set is considered acceptable.) Names may contain the wildcard character * which is considered to match any single domain name component or component fragment. E.g., *.a.com matches foo.a.com but not bar.foo.a.com. f*.com matches foo.com but not bar.com.

So I believe it would be possible to do something like have a certificate that matches a very wide variety of URLS: *.com, www.*.com, and ssl.*.com. You may want to try double-wildcard certificates (e.g., match *.*.com), but most browsers will not (and should not) accept them.

I also would not be the least bit surprised if modern browsers disallowed wild cards in the next level down from top level domain (e.g., *.com).


It is technically possible to make a certificate which contains a name "*.com" but, as per RFC 2818 (section 3.1), a wildcard matches one domain component, not several (i.e. it would be valid for "example.com" but not for "www.example.com"). However, there is a difference between the specification, and what implementers do of it. There are reports that some browsers accept to match a wildcard with several domain components (i.e. "*.example.com" matching "sub.www.example.com").

Moreover, most modern Web browser include failsafes, which reject overly broad wildcard certificates. See this question: "*.com" and even "*.co.uk" will be refused by browsers, even if RFC 2818 would not have seen any problem with that.

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