Single Sign-On (SSO): The Solution Everyone is Talking About

Marisa DiMuro
July 22, 2022

An average organization uses hundreds of SaaS platforms/products/services. Along with that comes hundreds of login credentials. Now, multiply that by the number of employees and you’re talking a whole lot of login credentials. Luckily, Single Sign-On (SSO) is an identity management solution that countless organizations use today, both big and small. Who doesn’t only want to remember one password? Yes, please!

Believe it or not, SSO has been around for almost 30 years, originating from a university where one man wanted all the students to sign in to everything using one password. Fast forward to today, with organizations operating on the cloud, comes SSO as we all know it.

There are two types of single sign-on. Enterprise SSO is used for organizations as employees may need to sign in to many applications throughout the day to do their job. Enterprise SSO works by storing the user's credentials in a central repository. When a user logs in, the SSO software retrieves their credentials from the repository and uses them to authenticate the user to other applications and services on the network. Enterprise SSO can also be integrated with other authentication mechanisms, such as smart cards or biometric authentication, to provide an additional layer of security.

The second type is Social SSO. This type of authentication mechanism allows users to log in to a website or application using their existing social media accounts, such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. For instance, I was able to sign into Zillow using my Google account in the example below.

SSO Single Sign-on example - SafeBase
An example of Social SSO

There are countless benefits to implementing SSO:

Improved user experience

You only get one chance to make a first impression. The same way that we as people strive to make an excellent first impression to create lasting relationships with others, the same goes for business. In the SaaS world, a user's first impression is the login screen. Creating a seamless experience for the customer is one of the many things that keeps a customer coming back.

Boosts productivity for all staff members

Remember the days when you were at work sitting on hold with IT waiting for them to change your password? Thanks to SSO, those days are over. SSO has lightened the load for the IT help desk as well as employees in all other departments. Not having to spend time making new logins, remembering them, resetting passwords, etc. have increased productivity across the board.

A classic phone call with IT

Improve compliance and security capabilities

Let’s face it. With single sign-on, we are decreasing the attack surface by eliminating the need to recycle passwords. With all the security of SSO, especially if you pair that with a hardware token such as a YubiKey, you significantly reduce the likelihood of successful phishing and password reuse attacks. In security questionnaires, SSO, with SAML in particular, has become one of the key things that companies look for in a vendor during vendor risk assessments. Prospective customers want to know that their data will be safe.

Facilitate B2B collaboration

There is an immense growth opportunity when a product offers integrations with other SaaS products. It’s a huge plus for user experience and as a business, you’re able to cast a wider net for a larger target audience.

Considering Single Sign-On

Most will point out that the most significant disadvantage of SSO is that it’s a single point of failure. If that service provider were to have a breach, you’d technically be locked out of all SSO-enabled applications. Some will say that it can be a difficult thing to implement. From personal experience, SafeBase has just implemented Okta, internally giving employees convenience and once and for all eliminating the need to recycle passwords. If you ask me, a day or two of hiccups is well worth the seamless and SECURE experience for the long term.

Beyond that, it’s important to consider the user experience when evaluating a SaaS platform. SafeBase’s Smart Trust Center is equipped with Social SSO, and Enterprise SSO / SAML, so all of your users have a seamless way to access your security posture. SafeBase believes that every organization deserves the highest level of security, which is why Google and Enforce SSO are included in our Free plan, which has everything any company needs to securely share security documents and automate security reviews. Customers like Jamf, Split, LinkedIn, and Instacart combine their Smart Trust Center with their powerful SafeBase Knowledge Base to build and maintain trust with their customers and reduce inbound questionnaires by up to 90%.

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