What Is Single Sign-On? Pros & Cons

Single Sign-On is the identity and access management (IAM) sector as a whole, and specifically the web application single sign-on (SSO) space, is well-known and well-liked.

What Is Single Sign-On?

IT administrators need to think carefully about SSO because there are so many new and established vendors on the market. There are many different SSO provider options available, but there are also a number of SSO advantages and disadvantages that must be considered.

What Is Single Sign-On?

Many IT professionals advise using a single sign-on approach as firms try to protect their systems from the rising threats of phishing, malware, and ransomware. Many people believe single sign-on to be a practical, simple method of protecting your system from a data breach, but it is not without drawbacks. Here is what you need to know if you’re thinking about including this identity access management solution in your security system.

Single Sign-On is an authentication mechanism that allows users to access various applications and websites with a single secure set of credentials. When you implement SSO in your workplace, your employees will be able to enter into one application and be immediately logged into other programmes, independent of the platform, technology, or domain they are using.

How does SSO work?

Single sign-on might be somewhat sophisticated behind the scenes, but the user experience is fairly straightforward. Essentially, the user begins by accessing the desired application, such as Gmail. The user enters their email address and password to log in. Gmail, which serves as the “Service Provider” in this scenario, delivers the information to the Identity Provider.

Additional authentication, such as a one-time password or a biometric credential (e.g., a fingerprint), Single Sign-On may be requested by the Identity Provider. After the Identity Provider validates the credentials, it confirms with the Service Provider, and the user is logged into several applications. In this case, when a user registers into Gmail, they are also authenticated to YouTube, AdSense, Google Analytics, and other Google apps.

SSO enables improved identity and access management by securing important systems and making it easier for IT teams to monitor and control user credentials.

After the Identity Provider validates the credentials, it confirms with the Service Provider, and the user is logged into several applications. In this case, when a user registers into Gmail, they are also authenticated to YouTube, AdSense, Google Analytics, and other Google apps.

What are the benefits of SSO?

SSO makes it simple for your team to follow password best practises. “When end users only need to remember a single unique password, rather than different passwords for each app,” Okta explained, “the risk of password fatigue drops significantly.” the rate of time-consuming password resets.” “Additionally, because they only need to log on to one secure platform once per day, you eliminate the possibility of users using the same password across multiple insecure applications.”

Okta, an SSO supplier, discovered that IT staff in organisations that use this authentication procedure spend much less time providing password-related support and can accelerate IT integration with acquired businesses by 500%.

What are the drawbacks of SSO?

SSO should be strategically implemented. Some businesses may desire to keep some applications more secure: for example, healthcare organisations subject to HIPAA rules may need to be cautious regarding SSO adoption.

“It is critical to select a Single Sign-On solution that allows you to, for example, require an additional authentication factor before a user logs into a specific application or that prevents users from accessing certain applications unless they are connected to a secure network,” OneLogin wrote.

Pros of SSO

Web application single sign-on is primarily used in organisations to easily connect users to their web apps, relieving both IT and end users of the burden, and there are numerous reasons for this. Check out all of the advantages that SSO can provide for your organisation:

1. Simplified password management

One significant advantage of web app SSO is that it eliminates much of the tedium associated with user credential management. In fact, most web app SSO solutions do not even require end users to use passwords to access applications. Finally, with SSO, IT administrators just need to ensure that their users are managed at the identity provider (IdP) level by their core directory service.

2. Increased admin control

With SSO, IT administrators may gain a better understanding of which apps their end users have access to, reducing the possibility of Shadow IT and other potential risk factors slipping under the radar. Furthermore, administrators can restrict user access to certain apps as needed, eliminating existing threat vectors.

3. Improved security

Single Sign-Onremoves the need for numerous passwords, resulting in fewer attack routes for bad actors overall. This reduces risk for both your affiliates (partners and consumers) and your organisation, particularly when multi-factor authentication (MFA) is implemented on top of SSO.

Cons of SSO

Though web application SSO has advantages, there are also trade-offs and hazards associated with these solutions. The disadvantages of web app SSO include:

1. Costly/best at scale

Simply put, SSO can quickly become prohibitively expensive. SSO can provide significant benefits for smaller businesses, but it can also be a significant financial burden. Many SSO companies charge per feature, and the majority of the key functions are add-on costs, so the prices can soon pile up.

2. Requires an IdP

The IdP/directory service of an organisation serves as the foundation of any SSO solution. SSO solutions are often built on top of a directory, requiring organisations to pay for different solutions in order to obtain the desired result.

3. Requires extra-strong passwords

While end users only need to remember one password for SSO, that password should be long, challenging, and secure.Although this is generally beneficial to overall identity security, it also raises the potential of a user forgetting or compromising this password, therefore negating the benefits of SSO.

How to Handle SSO’s Drawbacks

It is obvious that web app SSO solutions provide significant benefits to organisations while also having some indisputable negatives. This is partly due to the fact that web app SSO tools are point solutions designed to be stacked on top of an existing directory in order to resolve a connection issue between users and their web apps. Because of this core rationale for their existence, the disadvantages of web app SSO tools tend to exceed the benefits, particularly in small-to-medium-sized businesses. This is especially true in today’s modern IT environment, as users must connect to a wide range of IT resources effortlessly.

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