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Understanding the Single Sign On

Leah Spencer
 


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As information technology systems enlarge to support business processes, system administrators and users deal with an increasingly complicated interface to carry out their activities. Ideally, users have to log in to a number of different systems, using different user names and passwords at every stage. The process demands an equal number of sign-on dialogues, each of which may need different authentication information and user credentials. System administrators in such cases, have to manage multiple user accounts within each of the different systems and ensure coordination between all of these to maintain the integrity of security policy enforcement. This is where single sign-on offers an alternative solution.

Single sign-on is a process that permits users in a network access all authorized resources in the same network, without having to log in to each resource separately. SSO allows users to validate their login credentials, mainly usernames and passwords with the company’s database or any other client application without the need to have separate user passwords managed by the business. In other terms, single sign-on (SSO) is mechanism through which a single action of user authorization and authentication can allow a user access all systems and computers where he has access permission, without the need to enter different passwords. Single sign-on greatly minimizes human error which is a major component of systems failure. SSO is therefore highly desired by companies and organizations. The working on a single sign-on system is dependent on its implementation methodology.

Benefits of Single Sign-On

Lower administrative costs: Users need only a single password to access external applications and network resources. With a significantly lesser number of passwords to manage, system admins get fewer password related requests and issues.

Enhanced security: Single sign-on generally supports any password policies that a company has established for its corporate network. Additionally, sending an authentication credential that is valid for a single use improves security for users who are allowed access to sensitive data.

Time savings: An average user takes 5 to 20 seconds to log in to an online application. The time is longer if the user mistypes the username or password and is prompted to re-enter the credentials. A single sign-on eliminates the need to manually log in across different applications separately. The savings in time lead to increased productivity.

Better user adoption: The convenience of not having to log in multiple times, users are more likely to use an SSO based application. For instance, users can send emails with links containing information regarding an application in the network, including reports and records. When the recipient clicks on the link in the email, the corresponding page in the network displays.

Leverage existing investment: A number of businesses use a common Lightweight Directory Access Protocol database to handle user identities. By authorizing a single sign on methodology to this system, when a user is withdrawn from the database, he will no longer be able to access the application. Also, users who leave the organization automatically lose access to the company data the instant they depart.

Check out the TrewIDM who provides identity management services to customers of leading organizations in finance, health care, manufacturing and more.

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