SSO: What It Is and Why You Need It

As your business grows, you will use more and more applications that require staff members to manage different sign-in credentials. As such, the chances of someone forgetting a password or login increases as well. If you’re looking for a viable solution to this issue, single sign-on (SSO) is a worthy consideration.

But how does it work? When signing in to a website or application, you provide credentials through the SSO and, in turn, the SSO authenticates your details and grants access to the account when it finds a correct match. This allows you to sign in to different applications and accounts using a single set of credentials.

Different SSO Uses

You can obtain different SSOs to suit the sign-in type your company is targeting. Intended users of SSOs can be team members, business partners, or customers.

1. Business-To-Employee (B2E)

As the name indicates, business-to-employee (B2E) is used to manage team member access to business accounts. A B2E SSO provides a better internal user experience of applications and websites and reduces frequent information technology (IT) requests to reset passwords.

2. Business-To-Customer (B2C)

A business-to-customer (B2C) SSO allows customers to sign in to your organization’s services using credentials from other applications. Most common is one that allows customers to sign in to your firm with their social media credentials.

3. Business-To-Business (B2B)

Given that your business partners utilize your enterprise’s services, business to business (B2B) SSO helps them sign in to your website using their preferred existing credentials.

Different SSO Protocols

There are various protocols from which an SSO can develop its functionalities. The most common are the following.

1. Security Assertion Mark-up Language (SAML)

Security Assertion Mark-up Language (SAML) is an SSO protocol that allows you to access several web applications using one set of login credentials.

SAML routes authentication information between a web application and an identity provider. This routing is believed to make the authentication process easier. Using SAML can provide you with subsequent access to other web applications within the same framework. Most organizations use this protocol to grant access to their staff for different accounts.

2. OpenID Connect

OpenID is an authentication protocol common with customer-serving SSOs. It works by redirecting a user to an identity authentication provider that verifies the log-in attempt before granting access to an application. It can further generate a one-time pin (OTP) that the user can use to access the specific application account.

Examples Of SSOs

Knowing the myriad of SSO uses is important to getting the right SSO solutions for your company’s needs. Below are some examples of SSO you can obtain.

1. Enterprise SSO (e-SSO)

Enterprise SSO (e-SSO) works by providing user access to a target application. Ideally, it replays the user’s credentials, usually username and password, on the target application to avoid typing the information again. Mostly, e-SSO can work across domain and local network boundaries.

Enterprise SSO can allow an IT admin to manage a user database and create different security access levels. This ensures that users access information according to their security level clearance, thus helping keep your organization’s sensitive information secure.

2. Web SSO

Also known as extranet SSO, Web SSO allows you to access different web services or web applications over the Internet. This SSO can work using a web portal or through browser extensions.

When a user tries to log in on a web application, the web application checks with the SSO, which then verifies with the identity provider the user’s credentials. Once the SSO verifies the identity, it returns the authentication feedback to the web application. Finally, the user is granted access to that application.

It’s important to note that web SSO doesn’t store the user credentials. Instead, it validates the input credentials against an identity provider or a directory database.

3. Social SSO

Social SSO allows users to sign in to third-party websites or applications using their social media credentials. This, however, means that as a user, you need to provide a strong password to your social media accounts to reduce the risks of cybersecurity attacks.

4. True SSO

Although a much new concept, True SSO allows users to use a single set of credentials to access all other IT resources in a given organization. This includes any web applications as well as legacy applications.

From the IT admin’s perspective, it means they can manage user access from a single dashboard. This makes it easier to onboard, upgrade, downgrade, or disable any user as all access protocols are available from a single access management point.

The Takeaway

SSO solutions can be a critical feature in your organization as it allows you to not only create different security level clearances for users but also make multiple log-in management much easier. Also, the use of SSO can be important when allowing your business partners and customers to access your firm’s services. Combined with multi-factor authentication while allowing users to formulate complex passwords without them worrying that forgetting them may lead to being locked out of their accounts, SSOs can help improve your company’s data security standing.

As we have explored in previous posts, company leaders must continue implementing strategies that help employees, customers and partners have an enjoyable and productive digital experience. The SSO tips above, when implemented correctly, help create a successful and improved digital experience. Of course, by crafting a clear story, developing an integrated strategy, and activating well by aligning your people, processes, and digital technologies, you’ll enable remarkable interactions between your company and your key stakeholders. Learn more about the 3 steps to transform experiences and how to bring simplicity, clarity, and alignment to your brand’s story, strategy, and activation in our bestselling book: Marketing, Interrupted. And subscribe to the TopRight blog! Or connect with me on Twitter and on LinkedIn.