Single Sign-On (SSO) has been used by several enterprises for several years but its importance has always been underrated. Now, that workplace flexibility is commonplace, employees expect easy access to a variety of applications. People do not enjoy lengthy and repetitive login procedures every time they want to access an application or a service.
With the growing dependency on the cloud and several third-party services, businesses need to enable their employees with instant and hassle-free access to their productivity suite, from anywhere and on any device. In this article, we will talk about what single sign-on is and everything you need to know about it.
What Is Single Sign-On (SSO)?
Single Sign-On (SSO) is a mode of identification that allows users to access multiple apps and websites using a single set of credentials. SSO can be used by enterprises or individuals to simplify the management of passwords and usernames across various platforms and accounts. A popular example of a single sign-on is when you log into your Google account, and that automatically logs you into your G-mail and YouTube accounts, without the need for repeated authentication or the use of unique credentials for every platform.
Why Is Single Sign-On Important?
Single Sign-On performs identity verification, which is a vital part of the identity and access management process. It helps organizations to confirm the identity of their employees, as well as grant roles and permissions based on their identity to access corporate networks and resources efficiently.
How Does Single Sign-On Work?
Single Sign-On works on federated identity which links users’ identities across multiple domains and networks to enable users to authenticate themselves using the same set of credentials for multiple platforms. Once users are authenticated for one system, they are automatically granted access to all the other linked platforms.
If you are wondering how this is achieved, it is because every time the users log themselves in using the SSO credentials, an authenticated token is generated and stored on the SSO solution’s server. Whichever app or website the users visit next, will automatically check their SSO service for their login credentials and grant them access.
There are two main elements in making an SSO work, the service provider and the identity provider. The service provider is the one who provides a service or product such as an app or a website. The identity provider is a system that manages all the user authentication credentials.
Here’s how it works:
- The user accesses a website or an application that he wishes to use.
- The website or app generates an authentication token and shares it with the identity provider.
- The identity provider then sends a response to the service provider, i.e. the app or website.
- The user is then prompted to enter his credentials and log in.
- Once the user’s credentials are verified successfully, he will be granted access to other websites and apps without the need to log in repeatedly.
What Are the Benefits of Single Sign-On?
1. Greater Security and Compliance
SSO is designed with an intention of enhancing the enterprise security infrastructure. With the rising rate of cyber crimes and the stringent privacy laws that can put your business in jeopardy, SSO is a method that can reinforce your data security. How? The authentication token that is generated in the process of single sign-on resides on the central SSO server which is highly impenetrable and the login data cannot be cached. Another reason why SSO enhances corporate security is that users do not need to use multiple passwords for multiple platforms, which reduces the attack surface considerably.
2. Reduces Password Fatigue
IT admins are in charge of their organization’s data security among many other things and insist that employees use a unique password for every platform and account that they use. This, however, means that a single employee needs to generate and remember dozens of passwords and usernames, leading to password fatigue. Most customers skip using apps and bounce off websites simply because they do not want to generate yet another password. SSO cuts down the number of logins sharply and reduces password fatigue in users.
3. Improves User Experience
SSO relieves users of remembering countless passwords. All of us, at some point, have forgotten passwords, tried hard to recollect and spent time and efforts executing extra steps of forgetting and resetting passwords just to gain access to a portal. Yes, having to remember every password you have ever created is hard. SSO relieves users of remembering countless passwords and improves their overall experience
4. Saves Time
Humans are not wired to remember everything as machines do. Unfortunately, the inability to remember your passwords means that you will not be able to gain access to your valuable services and platforms. The ability to log in to multiple accounts with a single sign-on means that employees have to remember just one password. This automatically reduces the number of support tickets that are raised to the IT help desk for forgotten passwords. Time and effort are saved for both employees and the IT teams.
5. Prevents Shadow IT
Shadow IT occurs when employees bypass their corporate policies and make use of apps, services and websites that have not been allowed by their enterprise. These compliance violations can cause corporate data breaches and land the organization in great trouble. With SSO however, the user’s activity and access details of various apps and websites are indirectly monitored which can help the enterprise IT teams to detect compliance violations and take measures to restore security.
Examples of the Leading SSO Solutions?
There are various types of SSO protocols that are used by SSO services such as SAML-based SSO, OAuth, OpenID Connect, etc. based on the authentication process that they follow. As businesses continue to realize the value of SSO, more and more enterprises are seeking SSO solutions for their organizations.
Some of the popular SSO solutions that are currently dominating the market are:
- Ping Identity
- One Login
Scalefusion MDM Seamlessly Integrates With SSO Solution
Scalefusion MDM allows IT admins to leverage SAML-based SSO using Okta and PingOne identity providers. The integration of these SSO solutions with the Scalefusion dashboard eliminates the need for IT admins to remember passwords and ensures easy access to the Scalefusion dashboard. Scalefusion previously enabled SSO using O365 and G-Suite. However, with the Okta integration, users need not be O365 or G-Suite users to leverage the SSO capability
As cloud services gain traction, user authentications are going to be a vital part of enterprise security. Single Sign-Ons are a great way to simplify the management of user credentials without overburdening your IT, lowering your users’ experience or lowering your security efforts.