A Single Sign-on (SSO) solution enables users to access all programs, databases and files with a single username and password.
A Single Sign-on (SSO) solution is something that most of us come across every day but that many of us do not fully understand. While the types and complexities of SSO are many, the basic meaning of this type of solution in web applications is that the user is able to access more than one (preferably, all) program, databases and files that they require for their day to day work without the need for a separate username and password for each of these components.
How SSO fits into the overall scope of IT security is still up for debate, as some experts point to the fact that a poorly thought through or inefficiently implemented Single Sign-on solution would be a treasure cove for hackers and other information technology criminals, jeopardizing data integrity and security. However, while taking the concerns of these experts into account, it is necessary to note that the majority of information security specialists would agree that, when properly implemented, SSO provides a higher level of data protection.
How does SSO work?
Prior to the implementation of Single Sign-on solutions, a user would need to have a separate username and separate complex password for every web application, piece of software, forum, database and so on and so forth that they use in their job.
The need to create so many passwords inevitably leads to password complexity dropping, while the end users increasingly struggle to remember all of them and match them to the systems that they are assigned to. The well-constructed SSO approach goes beyond the user and password combination and usually adds a unique token, such as an HR or employee number, to make the tracking and auditing processes much more streamlined.
At the same time, once adequate effort is put into harmonizing the login requirements of each of the system components, only one username and only one (but more complex) password or passcode is required.
What are some advantages and disadvantages of SSO?
As mentioned above, implementing SSO does require some calibration of the components that the employee uses in order to have more uniformity in formats of usernames and passwords. If most of the web applications and web solutions in question allow for the creation of a username like “bob123”, but another requires “bob.johnson”, then the latter system needs to either be brought in line with the rest or, sadly, left out of the Single Sign-on approach, which certainly diminishes the SSO value.
On the positive side, however, SSO greatly improves the traceability of data operations, which, in the event of a security breach, would make it easier to establish the source of the breach and its consequences. More and more companies trust the SSO approach as the more convenient while also safe way to manage user privileges and access rights.
If you have any questions about Single Sign-on and other solutions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts. We look forward to helping you secure your data and move your business forward.