What is a Single Sign-On Solution and How Does it Work?
With the World going digital, many companies are fully online. Some of them exist for ages and right now are the leading Web firms. Some large enterprises have hundreds of applications and managing all of them takes up a lot of effort and puts down great pressure on IT departments.
That is where the single sign-on solution, or simply SSO for the enterprise comes in handy. In this article, we will explain what a single sign-on is and how exactly it works. We’ll make it quite simple, by using some popular examples. You’re already familiar with it, you’re just not aware.
What is an SSO?
Single sign-on is a method used by leading web companies, such as Google. It basically allows users to sign in on an application with just one single set of credentials and after that, he’s automatically connected to multiple apps, run by the same company. Sounds familiar now?
Imagine it this way: you’re on your laptop, sync is on, and you’re signing in on Gmail. After this one sign-in, you’ll be automatically connected on YouTube, Drive, Photos, Meet, and many more. All of the apps are organized in a small box at the upper right corner of Google’s main page. We’ve told you that you knew this! So SSO software works similarly and streamlines the work in a company for easy and safe access to all applications from all employees and users which is awesome!
How does SSO work?
We’ll try to explain this without complicating it, again, through an example. Imagine that you have three different websites- Web1, Web2, Web3. They are all hosted on different domains- Domain1, Domain2, Domain3. Now, the main goal would be for the user to connect to Web1, and be automatically signed in to Web2 and Web3.
For this to be enabled, we will need some extra pair of hands, and that would be the central authentication server, which in this case will be named Web123. This server will automatically connect the three different websites that require your information for signing in. Once you’re connected to Web1, the server will pick up on that. If you try to reach Web3 for instance, this will automatically be sent to the server, a quick check will be made, and if you’re already signed in, then there will be no need for you to re-sign again!
At first, it sounds complicated, but it’s really simple once you get to know about it. It may be the best thing that happened to both big enterprises and clients who don’t like remembering their passwords and retyping them all the time.
SSO from a client’s point of view
From the clients’ point of view, the SSO solution looks quite simple and fast. Many clients don’t even notice it, nor think about it. Most of us haven’t even wondered why Google doesn’t require our info as often as some other applications.
Clients usually sign-on on Gmail, and from there on, the work is on Googles’ shoulders. Their server gets info on the client and gives it certain levels of access on Google apps, depending on the clients’ package. For example, for the free version, the client gets the basic packages. If the client pays for a premium package, Google acknowledges that and delivers it. It is a quick process, done in a matter of minutes, and that’s why the client never thinks much of it. All it requires is a stable internet connection and when it comes to enterprises having a backup internet connection is recommended. If one service provider experiences an internet outage everyone can easily proceed to work on a second provider. This helps avoid loss of data and money.
Pros and cons of SSO
Pros of SSO
There are many pros of the single sign-on solution. Some of them are:
- Better password policy;
- Reducing the need of signing in all the time;
- Taking some of the weight on the IT departments off;
- Boosting overall productivity because of the fast log-ins and fewer lost passwords;
- Lowers lost password calls and emails to the IT departments;
- Allows users to have access to multiple apps by one-time log-in;
Cons of SSO
As with any complex technology, there are some disadvantages to SSO as well. The two major concerns are:
- Having a single password for many different apps can increase the password vulnerability– if you had the same password for your phone and bank account, you would make it easier for people to use that against you. The same goes for online passwords.
- If SSO fails, the connection to all the other apps is lost- this will mean that you need to sign in on different apps manually, it will take up more of your time, and if you oversee one app, that can lead to bigger problems, such as delays or forgetting important stuff.
SSO or single sign-on solution is the best thing that happened to big companies with tons of different apps. It helps them take some weight off their IT departments and at the same time, there are tons of benefits for the clients as well. If you don’t want to be signed in on some of the apps, you can simply click the log out button and you’ll be out of it.