TechDogs-All About "Single Sign-On Solutions"

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All About Single Sign-On Solutions

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Overview

What do Indiana Jones, state-issued IDs, 1988 movies and French fries all have in common? Stay put - This article on Single Sign-On Solutions (SSO) will tell you just that. SSO is one of the fastest and most popular ways to grant secure access to your organization. If you dream of a world where, at the click of a button, you can securely access your full suite of network applications, you need Single Sign-On. This article takes a dive into Single Sign-On Solutions and tells you everything you need to know about it.

Read on already!
TechDogs-The Master Key To Unlock All Treasures-"All About Single Sign-On Solutions"

Logging into a computer is like an Indiana Jones movie. You leap from stone to stone as you navigate your multiple sign-in screens. You duck and dive through the flamethrowers of web application authentication and just when you think you're safe, you're flattened by the giant rolling ball of "no authorization."

Wouldn't it be nice if you could sign in once and a world of access rolls out in front of you, like the red carpet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, minus the Oompa Loompas? Wouldn't it be great if you could click a button and securely access your full suite of network applications? Wouldn't it be brilliant if someone wrote an article about Single Sign-On Solutions to educate you on the topic? That last one we can help you with. Read on.
 

What Is A Single Sign-On Solution?

 
TechDogs-What Is A Single Sign-On Solution?-Easy Way To "Access Multiple Platforms And Apps" With One Sign-In.
 
Single Sign-On Solutions sounds like an advertising campaign for Tinder (Singles, sign on, get it?) but it is actually a secure way to access multiple applications and platforms with one sign-in. SSO capability is more than just a password manager. It's convenient, quick and brings greater control over your applications and contributes towards tighter security policies..

Think of an SSO solution like a state-issued photo ID. No matter whether you are proving that you're over 21 in a liquor store, opening a bank account or being written up for speeding, your state ID is universal authentication credentials proof of who you are. You don't have to carry around institution-specific identification. A state ID is acknowledged by all. Single Sign-On Solutions works in the same way. Websites like Google, LinkedIn and Facebook have state-like authority and other websites can feel confident in their ability to verify users.

SSO comprises of two players:
 
  • An Identity Provider, aka the likes of Google, LinkedIn or Facebook.

  • A Service Provider, aka the website you're trying to access.


That's how SSO works. You sign in once and you can access multiple platforms and services.


A Brief History Of Single Sign-On Solution

 
The brief history of SSO Solutions is brief. Britney Spears has songs older than SSO. The first iteration of SSO was Microsoft's Active Directory (AD). It was an on-prem directory service (on-prem means it's installed directly onto a computer and is "on the premises" of the organization, not in the cloud). Microsoft devices dominated the enterprise space at this time, so AD was like an experienced sheriff, keeping law and order among the citizens of this one-horse town. That's when web applications arrived, like a gang of outlaws hell-bent on shaking things up, which they did but not enough to make AD step down. Instead, in rode web application providers to bridge the gap between on-prem and cloud-based applications with SSO Solutions for web apps. AD and SSO worked side by side and peace was restored.
 
Then came the evolution of IT (not the clown). IT resources moved away from on-prem to the cloud and now we had a slowly-more-defunct AD service and an SSO service ill-equipped for the big leagues. It was the entrance of other players that shook things up. Microsoft had to share the field with Mac and Linux. In the end, the IT industry rang the time-out bell. Something had to change. There was too much going on and the user experience was suffering. What everyone wanted was one unified access point through one provider. What everyone wanted was an SSO with prebuilt integrations, as we know it today.


How Does A Single Sign-On Solution Work?

 
TechDogs-How Does A Single Sign-On Solution Work?-"Working Of Single Sign-On Solution"

The easiest way to explain how SSO works is to walk you through the journey on a Service Provider website. We all love iconic films, right? So, let's call our website iconicfilms.com. The homepage features Rain ManWho Framed Roger Rabbit and a nice header image of Tom Hanks dancing on the piano in Big. Scene set. Let's go.
 
  • You're browsing iconicfilms.com and you wish to buy some pretty neat merchandise, which requires a user to be signed in. Iconicfilms.com checks to see if you're already logged in and, if so, lets you continue your business.

  • If you're not signed in, iconicfilms.com offers you the choice of authentication method through a third party (also known as an Identity Provider or IdP), like Facebook or Google. You choose Google because why not?

  • Google makes sure everyone with unique user credentials is who they say they are - both you and iconicfilms.com. It logs you in using your Google password, bangs on your trunk for you to drive on and shouts to iconicfilms.com that you're good to go (in tech speak, authenticates you and issues an authentication token to iconicfilms.com).

  • Iconicfilms.com can now verify your identity and provide you with secure access. It pulls up your shopping history, your communication preferences and your personal information. It knows you spent $500 on a Top Gun jacket and suggests a Rambo headband. You, naturally, add it to your basket and continue to browse.


This sounds like it takes some time. In reality, it takes seconds; faster than reheating your cuppa joe.


What's Driving The Need For Single Sign-On Solutions?

 
So, why are companies investing in SSO Solutions? The answer is simple.
 
Cloud migration, the process of moving data and IT infrastructure into the cloud. Cloud adoption rocketed from 24% to 86% between 2015 and 2020. Software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) reduce an organization's overhead costs while at the same time being entirely scalable. It's like a gift from the corporate gods.
 
Currently, SSO adoption is trailing way behind at just under 40%. The gap is swiftly closing as the need for data protection, streamlined work processes and tighter access management and identity management become hot topics in most boardrooms. Ultimately, we're time-starved and demand-driven. We want access and we want it now. SSO is the fast-food of secure data access - immediately satisfying, fills a hole and like salty French Fries, it leaves you wanting more.


What Are The Different Types Of SSO?

 
SSO Solutions can be a standalone or part of an IAM (Identity Access Management) suite. Some run on-premise, some in the cloud and others do a bit of both. You can look at the differences between SSO Solutions in several ways, including by Identity Provider type and how it works.

Identity Provider types

 
  • Social SSO Provider:

    Sounds nice, doesn't it? Social. Your friendly neighborhood authentication service. As the name suggests, Social SSO allows you to use your social media log-ins - your passwords for Amazon ( AWS ), LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook - to gain secure access to other websites.

  • Enterprise SSO Provider:

    Enterprise SSO (Esso) Solutions grant employees access to all systems and applications that fall within an organization's network, using just one log-in (and a heck-load of permissions work in the background). An eSSO means your IT team can easily control (and shut down) access to business areas at the click of a button.

 

Conclusion


To wrap it up, a Single Sign On solution is proving itself to be a flexible, robust user authentication security system. As passwords phase out and our lives morph into a sci-fi show, we can only wonder, what's next? Because whatever it is, there's a good chance it hasn't even been invented yet and it sure as heck won't resemble any Indiana Jones movie. Stay tuned because TechDogs will be bringing you all the latest updates in the world of SSO.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the significance of a Single Sign-On (SSO) Solution?


A Single Sign-On (SSO) Solution is a secure method that enables users to access multiple applications and platforms with just one sign-in. It goes beyond being a mere password manager by providing convenience, speed, and better control over applications while contributing to tighter security protocols. SSO operates akin to a universally accepted state-issued photo ID, where authentication credentials are recognized across various platforms. By eliminating the need for institution-specific identification, SSO facilitates seamless access to different services and websites, enhancing user experience and security.

How does a Single Sign-On (SSO) Solution function?


In a Single Sign-On (SSO) scenario, there are two main entities: the Identity Provider (e.g., Google, LinkedIn, Facebook) and the Service Provider (the website or application being accessed). When a user attempts to access a Service Provider's website, the system checks if the user is already logged in. If not, the user is presented with authentication options through an Identity Provider. Upon choosing an Identity Provider and authenticating, the Identity Provider issues an authentication token to the Service Provider, verifying the user's identity. This seamless process allows users to access various platforms without the hassle of multiple logins, enhancing efficiency and security.

What are the driving factors behind the adoption of Single Sign-On (SSO) Solutions?


The adoption of Single Sign-On (SSO) Solutions is primarily driven by the increasing migration of IT resources to the cloud. Cloud adoption has surged due to its cost-effectiveness and scalability, with Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) becoming prevalent. SSO Solutions play a crucial role in ensuring secure access to cloud-based services while streamlining work processes and enhancing identity management. As organizations prioritize data protection and seek efficient access management, the demand for SSO Solutions continues to grow. The need for immediate access to resources in a time-starved environment further propels the adoption of SSO as a fast and secure authentication solution.

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