Single Sign On (SSO): Definition
Single sign-on (SSO) is a security authentication property of several interrelated but independent software. Using SSO, a user can log in to different internally connected systems via a single username and password. This eliminates the use of different credentials to access each one of the systems and re-enter login authentication in case of every new session.
Single sign-on authentication allows the same credentials to be used for multiple software systems from a Directory Server Authentication and Systems. This directory is a central source that permits the implementation of a single authentication credential across multiple applications. The converse of this process also is possible, i.e., single sign on is a factor using which if a user logs out of one of the application, it terminates all the open systems as well.
It is a very widely used practice, especially across multinational enterprises, where a customer can operate multiple systems via local area network (LAN). SSO makes it simpler for the client as well as the organization as it makes user login at various software convenient, reducing the number of helpdesk request, which in turn help in increasing the organization’s productivity. In most cases, SSO is implemented along with other system authentication modes such as smart card or one time passwords, so that a user doesn’t get locked out of the system if he/she forgets the username and password.
Single Sign On (SSO) Solution
There are three main single sign on solutions according to the requirement of your organization:
- Web Single Sign On: Web single sign on system is software glue used to control the verification and acceptance of customers or employees trying to login to one or more web-based software systems. Web single sign on connects the user’s website browser session and a software application to authenticate SSO for the user. This SSO solution controls user login across multiple functions and data.
- Federated Single Sign On: A federated SSO offers users access to multiple enterprise softwares by managing and mapping identities across several identity providers or domains. This is established using digital signatures, encryption or PKIs.
- Enterprise Single Sign On: Enterprise single sign on allow your organization to simultaneously manage your clients as well as manage your enterprise SSO. It is extremely dependent on your active directory identities to manage user login.
Benefits of Single Sign On (SSO) Authentication
SSO is the best thing that could have happened to organizations with multiple applications or those organizations which intend to allow employees to access another software system using credentials. This mitigates the problems arised by an excess of software.
- It is reported that every individual has an average of 27 passwords. With SSO, a user can use the same login credentials to access multiple systems. The hassle of managing multiple passwords can be eliminated with single sign on survey authentication.
- In case multiple complex software systems can be accessed using just a single login credential, it will be much easier for users to log in and this will eventually lead to that software being productively and efficiently used.
- Employees or clients will not set easy to hack passwords because this is just one credential they are expected to manage.
- The SSO terms and conditions comply with the IT audit compliance aspects.
- Almost 30% of help desk requests are related to resetting of login credentials. SSO will help in improving the productivity of the employees at the help desk.
- Completing the login procedure over and over again can be cumbersome for the users and difficult to manage.
The most important aspect of SSO is that it is observed to have reduced SaaS license costs by more than 30% along with getting rid of the process which added no value to the system and also streamlining onboarding and offboarding procedures in a workforce.
Single Sign On (SSO) Examples
Every time you access your internet banking account, you use usernames and passwords for each session and also for each of your accounts. Each online bank account access credential will be unique and this leads to weaker management. Multiple passwords are harder to manage and that is where these passwords become incredibly vulnerable to hacking, phishing, and other such fraudulent activities.
If an organization wants employees to access a survey software such as QuestionPro, they can do it if the platform has SAML or XML activated. This way, employees can use their company login credentials to log in to the survey software to create, send and analyze surveys.
Single Sign On (SSO) Survey
Survey softwares similar to QuestionPro provide a SAML based single sign on which will allow users within your organization to access the software. Employees and clients aren’t expected to create and maintain separate accounts for the survey system.
- The primary objective of implementing SSO survey is that employees/customers can use internal access login credentials to access the survey software as well.
- Single sign on offers a medium for employees and customers to not create multiple weak passwords for different applications and instead, create one really strong password to access internal applications as well as a survey platform such as QuestionPro.
- Administration of a survey platform becomes convenient, especially for enterprise licenses, since the management can use credentials from the organization’s central IT system.
How to set up SAML SSO for login authentication:
- Go to My Account » Authentication and Logs to facilitate SAML authentication.
- Under Login Authentication tab, select SAML (Signed). There are three options available for configuring SSO:
- Metadata URL – The most simple and convenient manner for configuring SSO is to provide an identity provider metadata file link. Once the link is entered and saved, QuestionPro will download the file, analyze it and complete the setup.
- Metadata File – There are certain situations where an identity provider expects a service provider to download the metadata for configuration and not the URL. They can select the “Metadata File” option and enter the downloaded file before saving it. QuestionPro will parse the data and critical information will be extracted without saving the metadata file. For any updates, the metadata file will have to be uploaded again and the entire will have to be repeated.
- Manual Settings – For manual set up, you need to provide the following information:
- Entity ID / User
- X509 Certificate
- For QuestionPro to identify and automatically provision access, the SAML identity provider must be configured to enter only one attribute: emailAddress.
Advantages of Single Sign On (SSO):
- Helps minimize customer service cost: SSO enables users to not remember a string of credentials. In most customer services, almost 20% of customers tend to forget passwords. With SSO, the trouble of remembering credentials can be eliminated and which can lead to a reduction in “forgot password” customer queries.
- Enhances customer satisfaction levels: SSO is generally developed to make customer experiences better since it offers ease of login into multiple platforms.
- Increases employee productivity: An organization invests precious time and manpower to resolve password related issues. If single sign on is used, it helps in reducing employee efforts to solving these credential related problems and instead, focus on contributing towards other aspects of an organization’s success.
- Improves organization’s security abilities: Single sign on encourages employees to create stronger passwords which are less vulnerable to security risks, it leads to improved security related to the organization and its applications.
- Catalyzes business-to-business collaborative efforts: When businesses start complying to SSO and other businesses find it effective to implement softwares from the SSO compliant organization, it creates better business opportunities for everyone in the ecosystem. For example, those businesses using QuestionPro – which is single sign on compliant, will now be more secure and this can prove to be a productive source of new business.