Today, we’re excited to announce Total TLS — a one-click feature that will issue individual TLS certificates for every subdomain in our customer’s domains.
By default, all Cloudflare customers get a free, TLS certificate that covers the apex and wildcard (example.com, *.example.com) of their domain. Now, with Total TLS, customers can get additional coverage for all of their subdomains with just one-click! Once enabled, customers will no longer have to worry about insecure connection errors to subdomains not covered by their default TLS certificate because Total TLS will keep all the traffic bound to the subdomains encrypted.
A primer on Cloudflare’s TLS certificate offerings
Universal SSL — the “easy” option
In 2014, we announced Universal SSL — a free TLS certificate for every Cloudflare customer. Universal SSL was built to be a simple “one-size-fits-all” solution. For customers that use Cloudflare as their authoritative DNS provider, this certificate covers the apex and a wildcard e.g. example.com and *.example.com. While a Universal SSL certificate provides sufficient coverage for most, some customers have deeper subdomains like a.b.example.com for which they’d like TLS coverage. For those customers, we built Advanced Certificate Manager — a customizable platform for certificate issuance that allows customers to issue certificates with the hostnames of their choice.
Advanced certificates — the “customizable” option
For customers that want flexibility and choice, we build Advanced certificates which are available as a part of Advanced Certificate Manager. With Advanced certificates, customers can specify the exact hostnames that will be included on the certificate.
That means that if my Universal SSL certificate is insufficient, I can use the Advanced certificates UI or API to request a certificate that covers “a.b.example.com” and “a.b.c.example.com”. Today, we allow customers to place up to 50 hostnames on an Advanced certificate. The only caveat — customers have to tell us which hostnames to protect.
This may seem trivial, but some of our customers have thousands of subdomains that they want to keep protected. We have customers with subdomains that range from a.b.example.com to a.b.c.d.e.f.example.com and for those to be covered, customers have to use the Advanced certificates API to tell us the hostname that they’d like us to protect. A process like this is error-prone, not easy to scale, and has been rejected as a solution by some of our largest customers.
Instead, customers want Cloudflare to issue the certificates for them. If Cloudflare is the DNS provider then Cloudflare should know what subdomains need protection. Ideally, Cloudflare would issue a TLS certificate for every subdomain that’s proxying its traffic through the Cloudflare Network… and that’s where Total TLS comes in.
Enter Total TLS: easy, customizable, and scalable
Total TLS is a one-click button that signals Cloudflare to automatically issue TLS certificates for every proxied DNS record in your domain. Once enabled, Cloudflare will issue individual certificates for every proxied hostname. This way, you can add as many DNS records and subdomains as you need to, without worrying about whether they’ll be covered by a TLS certificate.
If you have a DNS record for a.b.example.com, we’ll issue a TLS certificate with the hostname a.b.example.com. If you have a wildcard record for *.a.b.example.com then we’ll issue a TLS certificate for “*.a.b.example.com”. Here’s an example of what this will look like in the Edge Certificates table of the dashboard:
Total TLS is now available to use as a part of Advanced Certificate Manager for domains that use Cloudflare as an Authoritative DNS provider. One of the superpowers of having Cloudflare as your DNS provider is that we’ll always add the proper Domain Control Validation (DCV) records on your behalf to ensure successful certificate issuance and renewal.
Enabling Total TLS is easy — you can do it through the Cloudflare dashboard or via API. In the SSL/TLS tab of the Cloudflare dashboard, navigate to Total TLS. There, choose the issuing CA — Let’s Encrypt, Google Trust Services, or No Preference, if you’d like Cloudflare to select the CA on your behalf then click on the toggle to enable the feature.
But that’s not all…
One pain point that we wanted to address for all customers was visibility. From looking at support tickets and talking to customers, one of the things that we realized was that customers don’t always know whether their domain is covered by a TLS certificate — a simple oversight that can result in downtime or errors.
To prevent this from happening, we are now going to warn every customer if we see that the proxied DNS record that they’re creating, viewing, or editing doesn’t have a TLS certificate covering it. This way, our customers can get a TLS certificate issued before the hostname becomes publicly available, preventing visitors from encountering this error: