Single sign-on, or SSO, is a method of authentication that lets a user log in with a single identity and password to a number of separate, but related, systems. Customers and employees have secure access to any device with one click. SSO can be used across multiple devices and cuts down on the number of separate passwords and accounts they need to manage.
With each new application, the number of accounts and passwords the average user must manage grows constantly. Maintaining separate and unique passwords for each one can become cumbersome, difficult to manage, and ultimately a security risk. Here are a few ways SSO can mitigate these issues.
Single sign-on boosts security by reducing the number of passwords in use across a business, a surface that’s always heavily targeted. Users go from several separate at-risk credentials to just one, and this single credential can be more carefully secured. Two-factor or multi-factor authentication can be combined with SSO, adding another layer of security.
Customers and employees use mobile devices now more than ever, yet mobile devices are also the most vulnerable to security attacks. Users can sign in securely with SSO on any device using any web browser. Employees who work from their mobile phones or personal devices are protected with single sign-on solutions.
The adoption of single sign-on solutions allows IT to maintain internal credential management. Passwords are stored internally, rather than remotely by the various applications customers and employees use that may have more relaxed or unregulated security practices.
REDUCES PASSWORD FATIGUE
Users who log into multiple accounts each day can experience password fatigue. A strong, unique password is necessary for each separate account. Customers and employees may be tempted to avoid creating multiple long passwords that are hard to remember. They might use the same password for different accounts, choose easy-to-remember passwords that are less secure, or rely on written records of passwords.
Password fatigue creates security issues because when a weak or often-used password is compromised, other sites using the password are easy targets. Single sign-on can mitigate the risk by allowing users to sign in to multiple accounts with a single set of credentials.
REDUCES HELP DESK WORKLOAD
When employees use best practices such as not writing down passwords, they can understandably forget them. SSO can reduce the time and resources that the IT help desk spends resetting forgotten passwords for employees. This reduces the IT workload and frees the department to take care of other projects.
The cost of resetting passwords has been estimated at about $180 per employee per year, so the benefits of avoiding password resets are also monetary.
In work environments where time is critical, such as emergency services, hospitals, and security industries, large numbers of employees need quick and unencumbered access to systems.
Single sign-on creates login speed and ease, helps prevent errors, and reduces interference from malware — thus increasing the speed of system entry when time is of the utmost importance.
HELPS WITH REGULATORY COMPLIANCE
HIPAA regulations require authentication of users who have access to electronic records or require audit controls. HIPAA regulations also require automatic logoff. Most SSO solutions enable these functions.
Sarbanes-Oxley regulations require documentation of IT controls and proof of adequate methods of data protection. SSO can also help with meeting antivirus and data access security.
ENABLES ENFORCEMENT OF PASSWORD RE-ENTRY
Occasionally, administrators will require users to re-enter their password as a security function. It helps reinforce that the same user is still active on the device that stays signed in.
Single sign-on gives administrators a central location from which to do this, rather than working through multiple applications, some of which may not support password re-entry.
Single sign-on solutions benefit companies by giving IT departments a higher level of control and streamlining their processes. Customers and employees gain ease of use. All parties enjoy enhanced security. Find out if SSO is a tool your company can use!