The other day I woke up to a surprise. Unfortunately for me, this was not one of the good surprises you sometimes hear about. My friend had sent me a message saying that someone copied my pictures off of Facebook and was using them on a dating website, pretending to be me!! It was upsetting and scary. I had been catfished! I wondered how she even got access to my photos since none of my social media is public. I like to have a little privacy online, even if it’s not much.
As I sat there, thinking and reflecting on how this perpetrator accessed my pictures: it suddenly clicked. A few days before this, I was at the library and I remember multi- tasking on a million different websites. I was trying to find answers to my research paper. Like most students, other things also distracted me: updating my Facebook status, checking my Instagram picture to see how many likes I got, and posting on Twitter. It turns out that when I left, I completely forgot to sign out of one of the websites I was using. Someone using the same library computer must have accessed my personal information and pictures because I had left them there for the world to see! Sure that’s a little dramatic, but I left them there for the library to see, which is just as bad.
Luckily, after just a few days and confronting this stranger via e-mail that she stole my pictures to deceive online daters, she finally deleted her account and that was the end of it.
But it got me thinking. If I didn’t have to use different accounts and passwords to sign on to 100+ platforms, I probably would have remembered to log off. If I had, I could have avoided this whole identity theft ordeal. I started wondering why there wasn’t a way to sign on the computer just once to access all platforms, making it easier for someone like me to remember. A friend of mine mentioned that there are indeed Multiple SSO methods you can use to make life easier and safer.
Multiple SSO Methods – The Choices
At this point it was time to research some real ways to keep me safe and secure online while also making life easier. SSO (Single Sign on) is a great solution that offers one-click access to all of your applications with one single login password.
There are multiple SS0 methods to choose from, using different protocols, including LDAP, Digest Authentication, and SAML to name a few. According to AuthenticationWorld.com,
LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) has recently taken on a big role in enterprise authentication. LDAP is known for fast authentication against any digitized authentication and is also very quick for doing identity reads. LDAP directories have a universal protocol enabling thousands of user identity verifications per second if necessary. As you might imagine, LDAP works best for large-scale scenarios.
Digest Access Authentication
For more web-related authentication, there is Digest access authentication: one of the more secure replacement methods of unencrypted negotiations between web servers and web browsers. This can be used to confirm the identity of a user before sending sensitive information, such as online banking transaction history. It applies a hash function to a communicated password, increasing its complexity over the much simpler plaintext that is sent during basic access authentication. In this way, it adds an extra layer of security to a previously unsecure SSO protocol.
One of the most popular SSO methods to choose from, however, is SAML. The SAML for dummies guide explained to me that an IDP (identity provider) and a service provider(SP) exchange SAML protocol messages through the user’s browser, then the SP sends an SAML authentication message to the IDP, asking to authenticate the user. If the password is correct, the SAML authentication will respond saying the user has logged in successfully. The added benefit for using SAML methods for SSO are in the XML Digital signatures that are used to verify that the protocols have remaind intact and untainted. It protects user identity while granting ease of access.
Security and safety will continue to become an increasing issue in protecting valuable assets as more people come up with ways to steal important information online. Having multiple SSO methods and protocols is a step towards increasing both security and safety. It isn’t just individuals on their personal computers who are at risk, but companies and their private information as well. A Sign-on solution can be a great answer to a very long and complex problem.