The sheer number of tasks we do online grows every year as we create and discover new opportunities to digitize our world. This is true within the workplace as well, but as we find more processes to automate using cloud-based technology and new apps to improve efficiency, we add more risk to the organization. Each tool added to the technology toolbelt, each interface users enter a password on, each app that we connect to via different networks and devices — they all add to our existing attack surface and present bad actors with seemingly unlimited avenues to cause harm if left unchecked.
This is where a secure, single sign-on solution comes into play — using one reinforced set of credentials to access all of these tools and resources provides quite a few different benefits to modern organizations. SSO reduces the number of attack vectors your organization has, and SSO layered with multi-factor authentication (MFA) creates useful security and compliance controls. So, how do you find a solution that provides these capabilities and more? The answer is simple — look for an integrated, holistic directory platform that focuses on security and productivity.
Implementing an integrated directory solution provides organizations with a single source of truth for identity management and user authentication while providing built-in SSO and MFA capabilities and more. This is an important step to take to mitigate the risk that is inherent when users have to create and input different credentials across a wide variety of tools and resources, thus creating many unnecessary new attack vectors ripe for the taking.
How do businesses ensure they benefit from the convenience of single sign-on without compromising security?
The risk in SSO exists only if you see SSO as a means to gain access. But by recognizing the inherent security gaps that exist, and compensating by implementing additional controls in the form of multi-factor authentication, contextual access security and session management, you effectively reduce SSO risk, making it a source of elevated productivity and security.
Working in IT is a constant battle to find the perfect balance of security and productivity. This is no better personified than in the need for Active Directory (AD) users to access multiple systems through the use of Single Sign-On (SSO).
SSO solutions eliminate the need for users to remember a unique, complex password for each application and platform they access, replacing it with a single logon facilitating access to multiple systems and applications.
Offering faster access times to applications, with reduced password requirements (usually, one), it’s a no-brainer technology that reduces administrative overhead and support costs, while being a non-disruptive technology with a high adoption rate.
It also does come with some security benefits: Since SSO only utilizes a single credential it often equates to requiring a very complex single password. Additionally, the act of disabling access enterprise-wide becomes as simple as disabling the initial account. But, as with any technology designed to improve productivity, there are often losses on the security side. And in the case of SSO, there are some implied security risks.
Single sign-on is an authentication process that allows users to securely access multiple related applications or systems using just one set of credentials. Ideally, once SSO has been set up, employees or customers can sign on just once to gain access to all authorized apps, websites and data from an organization or a connected group of organizations.
SSO works based on a trust relationship established between the party that holds the identity information and can authenticate the user, called the identity provider (IdP), and the service or application the user wants to access, called the service provider (SP). Rather than sending sensitive passwords back and forth across the internet, the IdP passes an assertion to authenticate the user for the SP.
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Single sign-on (SSO) has been prevalent in many organizations for years, but its importance is often overlooked and underappreciated. With many enterprises moving to the cloud and taking advantage of third-party services, seamless access to multiple applications from anywhere and on any device is essential for maintaining business efficiency and a seamless customer experience.
What is the Purpose of SSO?
Single sign-on’s main purpose is to give users the ability to log in to individual apps and resources within a trusted group using a single set of credentials. This makes it much easier for the user, who doesn’t have to sign on multiple times, and more secure for the business, since there are less opportunities for a password to be lost, stolen or reused.
What are the Benefits of SSO?
Your employees and customers probably don’t like memorizing many different credentials for multiple applications. And if your IT team has to support multiple apps, setting up, switching and resetting passwords for users requires countless hours, IT resources and money that could be spent elsewhere.
Single sign-on increases employee productivity by reducing the time they must spend signing on and dealing with passwords. Employees need access to many apps throughout their workday, and they have to spend time logging in to each of them, plus trying to remember which password goes to which, plus changing and resetting passwords when one is forgotten. The wasted time adds up.
Users with just one password to access all of their apps can skip all that extra time spent logging in. They also won’t need password support as often, and SSO solutions often give them access to a handy dock where all their apps are at their fingertips.
with good practices, SSO significantly decreases the likelihood of a password-related hack. Since users only need to remember one password for all their applications, they are more likely to create solid, complex and hard-to-guess passphrases. They are also less likely to reuse passwords or write them down, which reduces the risk of theft.
An excellent strategy to provide an additional layer of security is to combine SSO with multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA requires that a user provide at least two pieces of evidence to prove their identity during sign-on, such as a password and a code delivered to their phone.
Risk-based authentication (RBA) is another good security feature, in which your security team uses tools to monitor user behavior and context to detect any unusual behavior that may indicate an unauthorized user or cyberattack. For example, if you notice multiple login failures or wrong IPs, you can require MFA or block the user completely.
Decreased IT Costs
A recent study by Gartner reveals over 50 percent of all help desk calls are due to password issues. Another study by Forrester reveals password resets cost organizations upward of $70 per fix. The more passwords a user has, the greater the chance of forgetting them, so SSO drives down help desk costs by reducing the number of required passwords to just one.
And some organizations have been implementing specific password requirements like length and special characters that may make passwords more difficult for users to remember—a trade off of more secure passwords for more password resets. SSO can help alleviate some of those costs.
Improved Job Satisfaction for Employees
Employees are using more and more apps at the workplace to get their jobs done, and each third-party service requires a separate username and password. This places a lot of burden on workers and can be frustrating. Notably, an average of 68 percent of employees have to switch between ten apps every hour. Only having to sign on once improves employee productivity, as discussed above, but it also enhances their job satisfaction by allowing them to work without interruption, quickly access everything they need, and take advantage of all the useful third-party apps that make their jobs easier. Easy access is particularly valuable for employees that are in the field or working from multiple devices.
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