Businesses are faced with ever-increasing challenges presented by managing user identities and making sure secure access is granted to stems and applications. This is where SSO becomes essential.
In this article, we discuss what SSO is and how it can be used to help your business improve security, streamline user access, and more.
What is SSO?
SSO (Single Sign On) is an authentication method that makes it easy for users to authenticate once and across multiple systems and applications without re-entering their credentials over and over again.
SSO usually involves the use of a centralised identity provider (IdP) or directory service that authenticates users and provides access to authorised systems and applications.
There are two main types of SSO, including:
- Enterprise SSO: is used within a single organisation to make it easy for users to access multiple apps within the company.
- Web SSO: is used across multiple organisations and makes it easier for users to access a broad range of web-based applications.
Identity & Access Management
Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a method used to manage who can access a company’s digital resources and assets. This can include items such as usernames, passwords, and permissions. The combination of SSO and IAM makes it easier for a company to manage user accounts in one place, even with different applications and systems.
The result is that company data and digital access are more secure and easier to manage. For one thing, users only need to remember one set of login credentials. IAM is a crucial part of SSO, as it ensures users only have access to the applications and systems they need and nothing more. Company data is safer when access is only granted to those who need it.
Without SSO and IAM, users must remember several sets of login credentials, including their usernames and passwords for each system. IT admins would also need to manage and reset passwords for each system and application separately. The result can be confusion, additional administrative oversight, and increased security due to weak passwords and users sharing their credentials.
With IAM, a company has centralised management of all user identities and access privileges. And when this is combined with SSO, users only need to remember one set of credentials, and IT admins can easily manage privileges from a single platform.
How Does SSO Work?
Single Sign On uses a standardised protocol to authenticate users across multiple systems and applications. When a user logs in to an identity provider or directory service, a security token is created that contains the user’s identity and attributes.
The token provides access to authorised systems and apps without the need for the user to sign in again when switching between systems and apps.
SSO uses several protocols, including:
- SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language – is the most widely used for enterprise SSO)
- OpenID Connect
Types of SSO
There are three main types of Single Sign On: web, enterprise, and federated, which are explained in more detail below.
Web SSO is a popular form of SSO that makes it easy for users to access multiple web applications with a single set of credentials. This type of SSO is especially useful for companies that use multiple cloud-based apps because it gets rid of the need for users to remember more than one set of login credentials.
Web SSO also makes it easier for IT admins to easily revoke access to all web applications for a user when they leave the company, or there’s a security breach.
Enterprise SSO allows users to access multiple enterprise-level apps with one set of credentials. This form of SSO is best for businesses that use multiple on-premise applications. It makes the login process easier and offers a boost to productivity.
Enterprise SSO solutions usually require more customization and integration into existing IT infrastructure. They may also require a dedicated SSO server or appliance. These solutions can be time-consuming and expensive.
Federated SSO is a form of SSO that makes it easier for users to access resources from different organizations, even if they use different logins. This form of SSO is very useful for companies that need to work with partners and suppliers who have different identity systems.
This solution works with SAML, 0Auth, and OpenID Connect.
Best Practices for Implementing SSO
The best practices for implementing SSO start with careful evaluation and choosing the right SSO solution for the company. In addition, it’s necessary to clearly determine the requirements and goals for the implementation of SSO.
Companies also need to plan and prepare for deployment, including testing and configuration of SSO components. Ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the system are also necessary to ensure the system works correctly.
The IT department also needs to stay up to date with the latest SSO best practices and security measure to keep the organization safe from continuous threats and vulnerabilities.
Why is SSO Important for IT?
SSO (Single Sign On) is an important for IT admins for the following reasons:
Simplifies Login Process
SSO makes the login process easier for employees by requiring one set of login credentials. Employees don’t need to remember more than one set of credentials, which lowers the number of password-related tickets that must be managed by IT.
Improves Overall Security
In addition, SSO improves overall security by lowering the risk of password theft and credential sharing. It also offers centralised access control and monitoring.
Maintains Company Compliance
SSO also helps organisations maintain compliance with regulatory requirements, such as CMMC, GDPR, HIPPA, PCI DSS, and more. Here, again, SSO offers centralised access control and audit logs that enhance security.
The Future of SSO
The future of SSO seems to be one of success as more businesses learn the benefits of simplified logins. Moreover, with many organisations relying on cloud-based applications and mobile devices, SSO will be more necessary than ever. It’s expected that SSO adoption will continue to grow as companies learn of the potential cost and time savings that go with SSO.
However, successful implementation of SSO needs careful planning, choosing the right solution, and ongoing maintenance and testing.
The technology will continue to evolve; however, if companies can stay up to date with best practices and new developments, they will be in a better position to enjoy all the benefits offered by SSO implementation.
23rd February 2024
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