Wildcard SSL certificate in IIS 6.0, Windows 2003 Sp1 and above

Wildcard SSL certificate in IIS 6.0, Windows 2003 Sp1 and above

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Here I will be talking about configuring SSL wildcard certificates in IIS 6.0 on Win2k3 SP1 and above.

You may have a scenario wherein you want to have the same certificate installed for multiple Websites. Now in a normal scenarios this is not possible.

What I mean is you cannot have the same certificate installed on multiple Websites. To achieve a similar functionality you need to get a wildcard certificate from a Certificate Authority.

A wildcard certificate can be applied when you have the same end-domain name for all your Websites wherein you want to install the certificate.

Let's say you have Websites like www.test.com, mail.test.com and hrweb.test.com. Here the same end-domain name is present which is test.com.

Also remember that you can install the certificate for all such Websites when all of them are running under the same IP/Port combination. Here host headers will be the identifying criteria for Websites.

So let's say you have the following configuration:

WebSite                   Host Header Value                  IP Address                Port             SSL Port
Test1                          www.test.com                                 80                  443
Test2                          mail.test.com                                   80                  443

Test3                          hrweb.test.com                               80                  443

and you want to use the same certificate for all the above Websites, Wildcard certificate is a viable option.

Here are the steps to obtain a wildcard certificate through IIS manager:

-In IIS Manager, expand the local computer, and then expand the Web Sites folder.

-Right-click the Web site for which you want to obtain a wildcard server certificate, and then click on Properties.

-On the Directory Security tab, under Secure communications Button, click Server Certificate.

-In the Web Server Certificate Wizard, click Create a new certificate.

-Follow the Web Server Certificate Wizard, which will guide you through the process of requesting a new server certificate. You can have any name in the Wizard which shows Name and Security Settings. On the 'Your Site's Common Name' page, type a name in the Common name box, using the following format:
*.<sitename> for example, *.test.com (as in our scenario).

By default, the certificate request file is saved as C:\Certreq.txt, but the wizard allows you to specify a different location of your choice.

-Click Finish to complete the wizard.

After you receive the wildcard server certificate from the Certification Authority, assign the same certificate on all Web sites that have the same IP/port binding and are distinguished only by the host header name.

Here is a Screenshot of the wildcard certificate that we got for our *.test.com sites.


Now at this point if you try to access any of the Websites you will see that all of the HTTPS responses come from one specific site.

What I mean is that if you access https://www.test.com, https://mail.test.com or https://hrweb/test.com you will get the response from one site only.

You won't get the corresponding web pages from different Websites depending upon the site in URL. You will  also see that only one of the Websites will be running. Other Websites will be in stopped state because we cannot have multiple Websites running with same IP and same SSL port binding (without of course some extra settings). If you try to start the other Websites you may see something like this below:


Now, the next most important thing is to follow the script below:

Go to Start Menu, click Run, type "cmd", and then click OK.

Type the following command at the command prompt:

C:\Inetpub\AdminScripts>cscript.exe adsutil.vbs set /w3svc/<site identifier>/SecureBindings ":443:<host header>"                       <--- [It's not case sensitive]

where host header is the host header for the Web site, for example, www.test.com or mail.test.com.


C:\Inetpub\AdminScripts>cscript.exe adsutil.vbs set /w3svc/1/SecureBindings ":443:www.test.com"

C:\Inetpub\AdminScripts>cscript.exe adsutil.vbs set /w3svc/2/SecureBindings ":443:mail.test.com"

C:\Inetpub\AdminScripts>cscript.exe adsutil.vbs set /w3svc/3/SecureBindings ":443:hrweb.test.com"

Now once we have these settings in place for the Websites you should be able to browse to the Websites. You will also be able to start all the Websites without any issues.

Ensure that you do not modify any of the SSL related settings in the IIS manager like host header etc. after doing the changes in the metabase.

Finally have SSLDiag handy in case you get into issues for any general SSL related troubleshooting :-)

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  • PingBack from http://msdnrss.thecoderblogs.com/2007/11/17/wildcard-ssl-certificate-in-iis-60-windows-2003-sp1-and-above/

  • Here I will be talking about configuring SSL wildcard certificates in IIS 6.0 on Win2k3 SP1 and above

  • Thanks for sharing this info and making it clear enough for me.  Very helpful, thanks.

  • I am not able to get the wildcard cert. my company is using its own portal to obtain certificate from verisign.

    Here is the error i am getting:

    Your request contains a dnsName that is incorrectly formatted.

    The offending name is: *.subdomain.domain.com

    Support Information: 35DB

  • Hi Aloy,

    I don't see a reason as to why it should fail. Have you checked with the vendor which issues the wildcard cert, in this case it seems Verisign. Also before that, have you checked going through IIS certifticate wizard to request for a new certificate and see if that fails too. Let me know. Also where exactly do you see the error.

  • Thanks. Your explanations are crystal clear until the csript explanation. My problem is that I don't see any correlation between <site identifier> and the web sites present in IIS Manager. I have run this command to enumerate the web sites:

    cscript.exe adsutil.vbs enum_all /P

    The above command's output lists my web sites as numbers (e.g. [33430808]) instead of the human-readable names used for them in IIS Manager. How can I get my web sites to list out as something other than numbers via the command line?

  • Hi John, thanks for your response.

    Not sure if I got your question correctly.

    If you want to see the listing of a website with its corresponding identifier, go to IIS manager console, select Web Sites (at the global level), and then on the right pane you will see the columns: Description (which shows the friendly name) and Identifier column (which shows the identifier corresponding to the website on IIS 6.0).

    Or else, Right click on a website -> Properties -> Web site.

    Under enable Logging section, click on Properties -> at the bottom you will see Log file name, which will have the identifier for the website in the format W3SVC<ID>\exyymmddhh.log.

    Not sure if this what you had in mind. Let me know if you are looking for some scripts etc to get the friendly name and its corresponding identifier. You can check this link to run a VB Script from cmd prompt http://blogs.msdn.com/david.wang/archive/2005/07/13/HOWTO_Enumerate_IIS_Website_Configuration.aspx

    Hope this helps.


  • Thanks for your response, which fully answers my question.

    Best of luck with your Blog.

  • I was wondering, if you wanted to do this is a wildcard certificate required or can you get an SSL certificate for each subdomain you make?

  • Hi atucker,

    Yes, you can definitely get different SSL certificates for each sub-domains. It's up to an individual as to which route s/he wants to take.

    Having one wild card cert across all sub-domains will help in the administration purpose, consistency and convenience may be. I hope i understood your question correctly.

  • This will only work with a wildcard cert as only one cert is actually served.  So if you are all right with having your users click on the continue button once they are provided with the IE warning then fine it works great.  Still not the best solution for hosting multiple domains.

  • Saurabh - great article. I read your blog after reading the MS Technet article (http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/WindowsServer2003/Library/IIS/596b9108-b1a7-494d-885d-f8941b07554c.mspx?mfr=true) which was not clear about the site identifier to use.

    However, as one of the earlier comments - two issues that remain to be solved:

    a) users will get IE warning which in IE7 has become more "frightening" for non-tech savvy users - I guess the solution is to specify separate certificates for each domain you want to host.

    b) do the commercial third-party certificate authorities issue a wildcard certificate?

  • Hi sg, thanks.

    Regarding your concerns,

    a). I wonder why users will get an IE warning. Users should not get a security alert in IE at all if you have used the Common Name while requesting the certificate through the IIS wizard to use *.abcd.com etc.

    If your wild card cert shows *.abcd.com in the "Issued to" section, then when you access a site like test.abcd.com, mail.abcd.com etc you should not get an alert at all. Let me know if we are on the same page and I will try to clarify it more clearly.

    b). Yes, 3rd parties like VeriSign etc do issue wildcard cartificates.

  • Hey Sourabh - I meant IE security alert which in IE7 is worded a little too strongly and frightens non-tech users.

    One question on the identifier for the websites, I noticed in IIS6 that while system created site such as Default Web Site has identifier 1 and Sharepoint has 2 - the user created ones have a really long number. I wonder how is this number generated and is there a way to manage it.

    I also noticed that Symantec Mail Security picked up the next available single digit number whereas the user created sites have anywhere from 6 to 12 digits.

  • Sg, you are right, IE 7 shows a more esoteric alert :-), that's true. But again, if we have the SSL cert correctly set, IE won't get a chance to prompt with an alert to the end users.

    Anyways, coming back to your other question, yes, the user-created web sites have long random site identifiers. It's actually based on random sequence and doesn't have any ill-effects as such. Certain softwares like SharePoint and Symantec do check for next available ID that can be used etc.

    You can set the site identifier of your own choice by following the command below:

    C:\Inetpub\Adminscripts> Cscript adsutil.vbs move w3svc/<existing_Identifier>   w3svc/<new_identifier>


    >cscript adsutil.vbs move w3svc/12345678  w3svc/10

    Your website may get stopped after this, so ensure you start the website again after executing this command.

    Hope this helps.

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