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Single Sign-On (SSO)

Siji Roy
Last Updated July 13, 2022 8:56 am

Single Sign-On (SSO) refers to the user authentication method in which users can access multiple SaaS applications by using one set of login credentials. Single sign-on streamlines the process of sign-in as it eliminates the repetitive entry of login credentials across multiple platforms or each time the user gets disconnected from the application. Users can use their SSO credentials in any web browser or device without having any security issues.

Types of SSO authentication

There are different types of single sign-on authentication methods based on its application.

E-SSO: E-SSO enables organizations to streamline their employees’ access to applications by using SSO credentials.

Web-SSO: Web-SSO allows users to access the applications only through the web.

Federated identity: Federated identity is a kind of user identity that connects a user with multiple enterprises by using the same credentials to access all applications. Organizations use federated identity to grant permission to an external identity provider to access their IT systems.

Open ID: Open ID is a decentralized system in which user identity is stored in a link that can be verified by any server at any time. By using OID, an organization can issue a token to a third-party client to access their IT network.

How does SSO work?

SSO works based on the trust between the service provider and the identity provider.

  1. When a user logs in to the SSO system, the system generates an authentication token, a type of ID card issued to the user by the service provider, that links the service provider with the identity provider.
  2. The SSO service provider sends tokens to other applications when the user tries to access them.
  3. The identity provider verifies the token and sends it back to the service provider, confirming the successful log in.
  4. Finally, the service provider grants permission to users to access applications.

Who uses SSO?

SSO is useful for a wide range of users who need to access a company’s platform securely. For example, when customers log in to their bank accounts, they can access the mortgage section, credit card section, and so on without logging in separately to each section.

A common use of SSO is in an enterprise setting where employees are expected to use multiple free-standing systems. When single sign-on is activated, users can connect with multiple work systems using a single, verified, secure set of credentials rather than needing to log in using multiple username/password combinations.

SSO key features

SSO features focus on user management, segmented security, and seamlessness.

  • Management: Using SSO, users can access a wide range of applications and files by entering one username and password. It eliminates the burden of remembering the number of log in credentials.
  • Security: It’s easy for cybercriminals to attack when a user logs in to applications many times. SSO reduces the risk of attack as it requires only one-time login a day with one set of credentials to access all SaaS applications.
  • Seamlessness: Users can access all applications seamlessly due to automation in the sign-in process.

Advantages of using SSO authentication

With SSO, users, companies, and IT teams benefit from a more centralized system to securely verify identity and grant access.

  • Stronger passwords avoid risks: While using only one password, it’s easy for users to create and remember a strong password. It eliminates the risk of using the same password for several applications. Using the same password allows hackers to attack all services of users.
  • Centralized credential management: With SSO, user passwords are stored in centralized, secure data repositories that provide users and security teams control.
  • Quick password recovery: Users has to spend less time to reset or recover the password for the number of applications.
  • Multi-factor authentication: The users can add extra security to the SSO through MFA such as biometric authentication.

How does SSO save companies money?

Companies are always trying to reduce operational costs by implementing more efficient applications and tools. SSO is one such category of applications that can automate employee authentication processes. SSO decreases or eliminates the need for IT support for resetting passwords, provisioning users, and altering users manually.

Go deeper on SSO, Check out eSecurityPlanet.com’s rundown of top SSO providers.