Single sign-on (SSO) is a user authentication tool that is closely tied to a user’s session–or, in other words, the time spent browsing the web and using applications. Single sign-on basically allows users to sign in once with one set of credentials before the start of a session, automatically logging them into the accounts and applications they need during that session. The concept of single sign on capabilities essentially blends authentication and access control into one handy tool that aims to streamline a user’s session as much as possible by removing the fuss of repeatedly signing into every single application they visit.
A popular option is Microsoft SSO —and it’s easy to see why. Natively Microsoft and thus integratable with any existing Microsoft tools and programs, the solution streamlines users’ sessions and improves the user experience. Yet while Microsoft’s single sign-on tool has its strengths, it is not going to be a perfect fit for all organizations.
This product is a smart choice for organizations that have implemented Microsoft hardware and software across the board, but a lot of organizations also use other providers. Some organizations may require more granular integrations for example, or require single sign-on tools built into their internal web applications.
What Is Single Sign-On?
Single Sign-On, or SSO, a means of securely sharing authorisation status to allow you to access multiple accounts from one login. As you use different services across the day, you will be asked to log-in multiple times. This can become time-consuming and frustrating – it is not easy to remember so many separate passwords.
With SSO, you will be asked to login at the start of your session. From then, you can share a secure token with each login window, allowing you to login automatically, without having to input your access credentials again.
Why Should You Use Single Sign-On?
There are two main reasons why you should include SSO as part of your account set up: productivity and security.
Productivity. By implementing SSO, you reduce the need to login to multiple different accounts during the same browsing session. You need only log in once to your SSO provider. This solution will then share a secure token with each account you need to log in with. The token will verify that you are who you say you are, and that you should be granted access. This is much quicker than logging in and means that you don’t have to manage multiple passwords.
Security. This is an extension of the idea that you don’t need to manage multiple passwords. As you have fewer passwords to worry about, you can focus on ensuring that the one password you do use, is as strong as possible. Your SSO account is still secure as it can be backed up with MFA. It is also worth noting that your provider doesn’t have access to all of your passwords. The digital token is enough to verify identity, without needing to store or share the password each time.
What Should You Look For In An SSO Solution?
There is a wealth of SSO solutions on the market. You want to find one that suits your organization’s needs. To find the perfect solution, it is worth considering:
- User experience – You want a solution that is easy to use and straightforward.
- Versatile – You need a solution that will grant access to all the applications and services that you use. If the solution only includes one or two integrations, it will not greatly improve user experience.
- Secure – As these SSO solutions are giving access to all your accounts, you need to ensure that they keep your data private and encrypted.
- MFA – To add an additional layer of security, being able to implement MFA is advised.
- Consistent – It is no use having a solution that crashes, or a provider that does not maintain enough uptime. If this is the case, you may find yourself locked out of applications and services for extended periods.