Many organizations worldwide have been using single sign-on or SSO authentication for many years. However, the thing with SSO is that its importance is underappreciated and overlooked quite often. These days, many enterprises are moving on to Cloud and maximizing the services they are getting from third-party providers. This is why it is essential to maintain seamless access to multiple applications on every device and to ensure that your business provides a positive customer experience. So, read on to learn what SSO is and how beneficial this incredible technology can be.
What is SSO, and how does it work?
SSO authentication can be described as a process whereby users can securely access multiple related systems or applications using just a single set of credentials. Ideally, once an SSO has been set up, customers and employees can sign on just once and gain access to all the authorized applications, data, and websites from an organization or a connected group of the same. SSO works on the premise of a relationship of trust between the IdP (identity provider) and SP (service provider).
In this context, the IdP is the party that holds the identity information and can authenticate the user. Over here, SP is the application the user is looking to access. Instead of sending sensitive passwords back and forth on the web, the IdP provides an assertion to authenticate a user for the SP, often done through identity standards such as SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language). It also follows a definite process in the case of users who are not already authenticated.
What is the aim of SSO?
The main aim of SSO authentication is to provide users with the ability to log in to individual applications and other such resources within a trusted group by using just one set of credentials. This makes it much more convenient for the user, who does not have to sign in every time they log on to a resource or application. It also makes things much tighter in terms of security for the users since you have a lesser chance that a password will be lost, reused, or stolen.
What are the benefits of SSO?
It is unlikely that your employees and customers would prefer remembering various login credentials for different applications. This is where SSO could prove to be beneficial for you. Following are the benefits that you can expect by using SSO authentication in your organization:
- It increases productivity
- It improves security
- It brings down the IT (information technology) costs
- It provides your employees with greater job satisfaction
- It improves the experience of customers
- It increases adoption rates
- It helps tighten B2B (business-to-business) collaboration
- It helps maintain regulatory compliance
How does SSO empower your employees and customers?
With every day that passes, the tech world is throwing up surprises for us in the form of more applications and systems that we can use in our daily lives. SSO authentication can be called a prominent example of such innovation. When you have a lot of applications, it becomes tough to memorize the complex passwords you may have set up for the same. It can become a security risk as well! However, if you implement SSO, you can easily provide your employees and customers with the ability to access various applications and services.
What is an example of SSO?
If you are looking for an exceptional example of SSO authentication, you can look at the suite of applications from Google. Once you sign on to Gmail, you can automatically gain access to various other services from Google, such as YouTube, Google Photos, and Google Drive.
Disadvantages of authentication sans SSO
If you do not have SSO authentication in your organization, an immediate impact would be the need for every user to maintain numerous passwords for the various applications they access from time to time. Since the passwords tend to be complex, users might maintain their login information in locations where the security is compromised. They may only choose simple passwords that can be easily guessed or use the same password across applications. All these practices would leave them vulnerable to threats such as password theft and cyber-attacks.
Does SSO make things more secure?
The most prominent targets of cybercriminals are passwords and usernames. So, each time you create a new password to log on to a new application, you give hackers yet another opportunity to compromise the system. Reducing logins to a single set of credentials would make your organization a lot safer than it otherwise would have been, and this is where SSO authentication can play such a crucial role. When you use such technology, your users would have to log in just once every day and use only a single set of credentials, thus lowering the attack vectors that cybercriminals could target.
Does SSO have encryption?
Normally, in an SSO authentication flow, the IdP and the SPs pass the assertions between them, which tend to be encrypted. On top of that, every IdP usually checks a user’s credentials against the identity data that it has in an encrypted format – such data is stored in the most highly secure dictionaries.
You may be wondering if your SSO authentication system needs any further strengthening or not. Well, these systems normally feature the most vigorous protection. However, it is still important to keep strengthening such a system by filling security gaps. You could take certain steps, such as changing your passwords frequently and enforcing the strictest password policies. Try integrating a secure and robust login management solution and the SSO system you already use in your organization. Always make the most of the latest standard authentication protocols. Try to use multi-factor authentication.