Tips to Plan an SSO Strategy for Your Business

Single sign-on can be important to implement in your business in the new year, along with other identity and access management solutions like multi-factor authentication.

Below, we go into everything you should know about SSO and implementing an effective strategy into your business.

What is Single Sign-On?

In a competitive environment, and also one with numerous threats that are growing due to remote and hybrid work environments, single sign-on is important for security and efficiency.

Single sign-on or SSO is an identification system that lets websites use each other as trusted sites to verify users. Then, businesses don’t have to keep passwords in their databases. This reduces login troubleshooting.

If there is a hack, a single sign-on can mitigate some of the damage it could otherwise cause.

SSO systems operate as identity providers like an ID card.

Your website doesn’t make you prove your identity with SSO by checking itself. Instead, it checks with the third-party SSO provider to verify your identity.

As many organizations are moving to the cloud, they’re simultaneously trying to find ways to ensure that it’s as secure as possible while also reducing demands on their IT teams. SSO is one of the strategies that can achieve these goals.

Essentially, with single sign-on, users can access all needed systems with one log-in.

Benefits, when an SSO strategy is well-implemented, include more effectiveness and efficiency and tightly controlled access management.

Your users don’t have to create nor remember separate credentials for every application.

The Benefits of Single Sign-On

Some of the critical advantages of single sign-on will guide why it’s imperative to start putting a strategy in place.

First, when you have SSO, it cuts the problem of password fatigue among your employees.

When your employees and users are forced to create and recreate new passwords constantly, they’ll often give up and stop using best practices or following procedures. SSO helps keep things easy for users and they just have to remember a single password that meets requirements. It will reduce troubleshooting issues on the part of your IT team too.

Single sign-on can help with compliance. User access can be tightly controlled because your IT team can set user credentials.

It’s rare to find a solution that creates seamless user experiences paired with high security, but with the right strategy, SSO can achieve both.

What Are Your Needs?

You need to be strategic about SSO, and as such, it should fit within larger objectives for your business.

Consider the following:

  • What will the specific benefits of SSO be for your employees and, if relevant, your customers? When you understand the objectives you hope to achieve, you can use those to create benchmarks and metrics for success in the implementation of a single sign-on.
  • Are you contemplating SSO because you’re migrating to the cloud? If you aren’t already working in the cloud or you’re in the midst of a migration, you may be dealing with a lot of tools cobbled together. The cloud does give you the chance to have the simplicity and efficiency of an all-in-one environment, and SSO will tie that together neatly.
  • Are you trying to build a more effective and secure remote workforce? You might have a hybrid office, as well as a combination of contractors and freelancers. If so, these workers will be using their own devices to access networks. You need to have tight control over access even in a dispersed environment.
  • How will SSO be part of a more significant identity and access management program? SSO isn’t standalone IAM. IAM includes other elements, as we touched on above, like multi-factor authentication. As you’re building out your IAM infrastructure, you should keep an eye on not just current needs but what your requirements and security demands are going to look like in the future. Agility is a priority here.
  • Once you’ve got a more theoretical understanding of SSO and why you need it in your business, you can start to get more specific. For example, you can begin to go over your particular requirements and your users and applications. If you have a larger business, you might decide a phased-in SSO implementation makes the most sense for you.
  • You still have the option to run SSO software on-premises, but you’re more than likely going to rely on identity and access management as a service or IDaaS. By the coming year, Gartner predicts IDaaS will be the delivery model for more than 80% of new access management purchases.
  • What are your access controls going to be? Your users have to be appropriately authenticated, and so you’ll have to figure out how that’s going to happen.
  • Do you have other requirements? For example, are there requirements relevant to your company, like access to Amazon Web Services?
  • Once you make it to this point in planning, you can start to think about the features that are must-haves for you, and you can begin to create a shortlist of vendors.
  • Compare a true SSO system or a delegated system. A true SSO system contrasts with password managers or password vaulting. Password vaulting just means that credentials are stored for all the applications and are input when needed. There isn’t a trust relationship created between the applications and the vaulting system. With true single sign-on, users are logged in via the solution to access all company applications and websites without logging in again. This can include on-premises and cloud applications.

SSO is part of a larger concept called Federated Identity Management. As a result, you’ll sometimes see it referred to as federated SSO. Federated Identity Management refers to a trust relationship created between two or more identity management systems.

The above information should be enough to get you started with SSO if it’s a key organizational and cybersecurity priority for 2022, which it should be if not already. You’ll enjoy not just more security but your users will appreciate it as well.

PKI-Security Engineer & security blogger at gbhackers.com. She is passionate about covering cybersecurity and Technology.

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