Single Sign-On (SSO) is an authentication process that allows a user to access multiple applications or systems with a single set of login credentials (such as username and password). The primary goal of SSO is to simplify the user experience by eliminating the need for users to remember and enter different usernames and passwords for each application or service they use within a given system or network.
Key features and concepts related to Single Sign-On include:
- Centralized Authentication:
- With SSO, authentication is typically centralized. Once a user successfully logs in to one application or system, they are granted access to other connected systems without the need to re-enter their credentials.
- User Convenience:
- SSO enhances user convenience by reducing the number of times users need to log in during a session. This not only saves time but also contributes to a more seamless and user-friendly experience.
- While SSO simplifies the login process, it is crucial to implement security measures to protect the single set of credentials. This often involves robust authentication methods, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), to ensure a higher level of security.
- SSO often involves federation, where authentication and authorization decisions are delegated to a trusted identity provider (IdP). This allows for the sharing of authentication information across different domains or applications.
- Cross-Platform Access:
- SSO enables users to access various applications and services, whether they are on-premises or cloud-based. This is particularly valuable in modern IT environments where organizations use a mix of on-premises and cloud-based solutions.
- Session Management:
- SSO systems manage user sessions, keeping track of when a user logs in and when their session expires. Proper session management helps ensure security and prevents unauthorized access.
- Reduced Password Fatigue:
- Users often struggle with password fatigue due to the need to remember multiple usernames and passwords. SSO reduces this burden by requiring users to remember only one set of credentials.
- Logout and Single Logout (SLO):
- SSO systems include mechanisms for users to log out securely. Single Logout (SLO) ensures that a user is logged out of all connected applications and services when they log out of one.
Examples of SSO implementations include using protocols like Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), OAuth, and OpenID Connect. Many identity providers, such as Microsoft Azure Active Directory, Okta, and Google Identity Platform, offer SSO solutions that organizations can integrate into their systems to enhance user authentication and access control.