Time is a precious commodity. When you help people save time, they reciprocate the gesture with improved performance. The same idea runs parallel with the single sign-on (SSO) feature, which provides fast and seamless access to services that enable business operations.
Single sign-on solutions help users access applications and databases without going through separate authentication processes for each of them repetitively. It allows users to save on time while ensuring assets stay secure.
Undoubtedly, it's a vital element of identity and access management (IAM) across enterprises, which have a designated set of access privileges for the users.
What is single sign-on (SSO)?
Single sign-on is an authentication method that enables a user to utilize one set of login credentials for accessing multiple applications.
It eliminates the hassle of remembering complex usernames and passwords for different services by providing a centralized user authentication service where you don't need to prove your identity time and again once you've authenticated.
Avoid confusing a single sign-on with the same sign-on scheme, i.e., directory server authentication, facilitated by the lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP) and stored LDAP databases on servers.
In directory server authentication, the system expects you to enter the same login credential to access each application separately. In contrast, for a single sign-on, you need to authenticate only once for accessing various applications and databases
How does Single Sign-On work?
The authentication process using Single Sign-On takes place as described in the following steps:
- The user opens the website or application they want to log in to. If the user isn't logged in already, they’re presented with a login page or screen. This usually consists of a single sign-on option
- The user then enters the required credentials in the login form, for example, their email and password
- The service provider forwards the information to the SSO system or the identity provider as an SSO token to authenticate the user.
- The identity provider checks the database to see if the user is already authenticated.
- If the user's identity is already verified, a token will be sent back to the service provider to confirm the successful identification. If not, the user will be prompted to authenticate.
- Once the identity provider releases the authentication confirmation token, it passes through the user's browser to the service provider.
- The service provider validates this token.
- The user is finally granted access to the website or application by the service provider.
Now, the user can access all other applications/websites which are configured for SSO. If the user wants to access a resource from another application/website, the application/website checks whether the user has an active session with the Provider.
Advantages of SSO that every Organization should know
· It increases employee and IT productivity: Login assistance requests to the IT department waste a whole lot of time and money on both ends. Instead, a single point of access for different platforms reduces waste and increases productivity.
· It improves security capabilities: With a centralized SSO system, user accounts can be easily managed across multiple applications. Also, the identity provider is required to hold only a single password per user, thus reducing the number of passwords needed to protect.
· It combines with Risk-Based Authentication (RBA): To ensure the safety of each entity in the integrated structure, SSO can be combined with risk-based authentication (RBA). RBA allows you and the security team to monitor user behavior on each platform. In unusual user behavior, the wrong IP, multiple login failures, external identification verification can be demanded. Failing this verification, the IP address or device will be blocked from further access.
· It reduces password fatigue: Remembering various passwords for different websites leads to 'password fatigue. Using an SSO method will allow the users to have hassle-free access to the applications, which leads to a better user experience, and low password fatigue.
· It streamlines the user experience: Enhanced user experience is one of the most valuable benefits of SSO. As repeated logins are no longer required, customers can enjoy a modern digital experience. The benefits for enterprises include an increase in customer loyalty and higher conversion rates.
· It prevents Shadow IT: Shadow IT is preventable using the SSO method. IT admins can employ this structure to monitor the employees' activities in workplace servers, ensuring overall safety from cybercrime.
· It increases software adoption rates: Technology should make our lives easier, not cause frustration. Making sign-up or login easier with SSO increases the chance that customers will adopt your technology, use your app, and keep returning for more.
Why SSO is used by Organizations?
Using Single Sign-On services for authentication allows organizations to delegate storage and management of user credentials to a centralized system. This prevents the hassle of managing user data and passwords.
Enterprise SSO products provide authentication to a large number of third-party applications without the need to modify the applications in any way. This turn-key feature makes it easy for organizations to migrate to SSO-based authentication.
We at Tetra provide a full range of OpenIAM for all your Identity and Access Management needs including Single Sign-On.