If you list “logging into multiple applications in a day” on your resume as a skill set, this is a sign that you may be dealing with too many applications and log in prompts. Countless login prompts can lead to multiple problems including using weak, easy to remember passwords that are fresh for the hacking. Sometimes, even account lockouts can occur due to forgotten passwords. Oh the agony and pain all of these login prompts; there has to be a better way!
Well, there is and that remedy is called single sign-on!
Single sign-on (SSO) allows you to easily synchronize passwords between applications. Ultimately, this reduces the number of login prompts to a single, magnificent login portal. Taking this one log in approach can make life easier for everyone involved actually, both end-users and IT professionals alike.
End User Benefits
When looking at single sign-on from an end-user perspective, there are many benefits that make their lives easier on a daily basis. Reducing the annoyance of multiple login prompts is one of the most evident benefits. On top of that, not having to stop the daily workflow to log into an application to move to the next step is definitely a benefit worth its weight in gold.
Having to remember one username and password is also a huge benefit; this reduces the likelihood of forgetting the username and/or password associated to access your accounts. With your environment’s current situation without single sign-on, how many applications are your end users logging into on a daily basis?
If your answer is anything over three, chances are you need a single sign-on solution. For each application they need to log into, there is always a corresponding user name and password. The more user names and passwords they need to remember the more stressful it is for the end user, they have many things on their minds already and having to remember multiple passwords and user names adds to the weight that is already on their shoulders.
With an SSO solution in place you are taking some of that burden off their shoulders by providing them with the responsibility of only needed to remember one user name and password. This makes them less stressed and more productive in their jobs.
A happy end-user makes for a happy IT department!
IT Professional Benefits
As mentioned above, SSO allows you to easily synchronize passwords between applications and from the IT professionals point of view there are many benefits too. Much like the end-users, the IT professional will only have to manage the one password for each end-user. This makes life at work easier to manage.
Since there will only be one password for the end-user to remember, you can really flex your password policy muscle. This will make enforcing your password policy much easier and possibly even allow you to increase the password strength by requiring more characters per password. However, keep in mind that you do not want to make the password requirements too complex. One of the underlying benefits of SSO is the possibility of a reduction in password related helpdesk calls. If you make the requirements too complex you run the risk of your end-users forgetting the one password they need to remember.
Either way, requiring your end-users to enter one stronger password will result in stronger authentication protection than multiple weak passwords, or even worse… One weak password used across multiple platforms!
When considering integrating an SSO solution you may ask yourself many questions, like “what applications can I integrate?” and “How many applications can I integrate?” Chances are that the answer is all of them. Many SSO providers have built their solutions to integrate with SAML and CAS protocol applications.
Like many things in your life, most of the heavy lifting is performed during the installation with an SSO solution. This may seem scary, but if you team with the right SSO provider, they will walk you through this process, making the whole experience as delightful as possible. They will guide you through all aspects of the deployment, including how to easily synchronize passwords between applications.
Putting it Into Perspective
Think about your smart phone. This device unlocks the world for you right in the palm of your hand. Imagine if you had to log into each function separately on your phone? Granted, you may have a lock to access the device itself. Beyond that initial log in, however, you can roam relatively freely among the many different functions of the phone.
Your phone would suddenly turn into a burden because of having to log in separately each time you wanted to do something simple like make a phone call or send a text message. That may sound ridiculous now, but if you think about the way things are going and the future of smartphone apps, it is not as farfetched as one might think. When at work you are typically required to log into each application you use that is not stored locally on the device.
Just look at the development of Google’s Chrome Book, a notebook that accesses almost everything through apps and cloud storage. Turn back the clock 10 years and doing such a thing would be almost unheard of and crazy. Now that this is the new “norm” though, people like the quickness of the device and have come to accept that this is the new way of doing business. On a smart phone you also have apps that connect you to a cloud application, but there are still actions that are ingrained in the phone itself, like text messaging and also the functionality of making a phone call.
But when will those just be apps too that you will need to log into?