Hi Ninjas, if we see today’s scenario, the number of websites and services rising, so in this case, a centralized login system has been necessary because almost every website requires some form of authentication details to access its features and contents. With the help of SSO, we can reduce IT costs and can save energy and time for users.
What is Single Sign-On (SSO)?
SSO is an authenticated method. It enables users to securely authenticate with multiple websites and applications by using one set of credentials. SSO is nothing but a session and user authentication service. It combines login screens of several different applications into one. By using SSO, users log in with their credentials to a single page and access all of their SaaS applications.
To speak about it technically Single Sign-On, it’s a federated identity management arrangement. The arrangement has numerous advantages and it can elevate the performance of the application to multifold.
How does SSO work? And Its example
SSO is a System entity. Service Provider offering services to an organization and other parties. Identity provider stands for authentication of the user and also provides authenticated token to the service provider. SSO works based on a trust relationship between the service provider and the identity provider. This trust establishes as per the certificate that is exchanged between the service provider and the identity provider. In SSO, identity data that is provided by the identity provider takes the form of tokens that contain identifying bits of information about the user like the user name and its email address.
Steps of SSO work process
- User browses to Service Provider
- Request Sent to User’s Browser from Service Provider
- Access Requested to Identity Provider
- User logs in if necessary for Identity Provider
- Token sent to User’s Browser from Identity Provider
- Token sent to apps endpoint with the user’s identity
- Response received and the user is validated
- Access Granted
If a user login to Gmail Google service, they automatically authenticate to youtube, Google Analytics, AdSense, or any other Google Apps. Same as if a user logs out from one app, then automatically logs out from all other apps it’s called Single Logout.
Single Sign-On Components
- Identity Provider
It is a centralized system which is called Identity Provider(IdP), and it stores and manages user identity information. It authenticates the user by validating the username and password and provides access to the service provider.
- Service Provider
It provides services to the end-user. It is a system entity that receives and accepts authentication assertions in conjunction with Single Sign On profile the SAML Service Provider also maintains a local account for Users which are unique for their service.
- Identity Broker
It is an intermediary that connects multiple service providers and various identity providers. Mainly it supports Cross protocol. For example, it is configuring a service provider following a particular protocol with an Identity provider following different protocols.
Key factors of SSO
Before implementing SSO, it is necessary to know the Key factors.
- Types of users: Every time the number of users should be kept in mind.
- Access: According to the requirements of their designation, proper authorization should be given to users.
- Platform: According to needs, you need to choose the cloud-based solution or premise solution.
- Features: Features you will provide make sure that only trusted users are logging in.
Security and Compliance benefits of SSO
Cyber Criminals’ main target is usernames and passwords. So by SSO, users may only log in once each day and only use one set of credentials. This way SSO reduces the number of attack surfaces.
Improving security because of fewer phishing incidents.
Also can improve Enterprise security by reducing log-in to one set of credentials.
It also helps with regulatory compliance. Single Sign-On helps to meet requirements around data access and antivirus protection.
Nowadays, almost all enterprises are moving to the cloud and taking advantage of third-party services. So it gives seamless access to multiple applications from anywhere, maintaining business efficiency and giving a seamless customer experience.
To become a more secure SSO by implementing frequent changes of password. And have to follow password policies. By implementing multi-factor authentication.
How is SSO implemented?
Some basic level steps you should follow :
- By using your choice of database, firstly create one common database for all your intranet applications.
- In a database, it must have a common table that is across all the applications and contains user-specific information like credentials and other specific personal information.
- Then create your registration mechanism which will be the same across all the applications and use the same table of the database to fill in the user information.
- On the Login Page, for login credentials check that common table.
- This way once you are registered from one of any applications, then you will login and use any of your applications that use your common database and its table for user- information.
Types of SSO Configuration
There are different types of SSO (Single Sign-On) Configurations:
- Kerberos Authentication
It’s a client-server authentication protocol. It allows mutual authentication. In that, the server and user both verify each other’s identity. It uses a symmetric key derived from the user’s password to securely exchange a session key for the user and server to use. For more to know about Kerberos Authentication, click Kerberos Authentication details
- Smart Card-Based Authentication
It is used for generating, sorting, and operating cryptographic keys. It’s a secure microcontroller. It provides users with smart card devices for authentication. Users connect their smart cards to a host system. The host system interacts with the key and other secrets stored on smart cards to authenticate the user. Users need a PIN to operate a smart card. It keeps data very secure with strong security. So it’s hard to steal. For more to know about Smart Card Based Authentication, click Smart Card based authentication details
- Integrated Windows Authentication
It uses security features from Windows clients and servers. The client computer supplied their windows information by the web browser through a certificate exchange involving hashing with the web server. If the authentication exchange fails to identify the user, the web browser will request the user’s credentials. For more to know about Integrated Windows Authentication, click Integrated Windows Authentication details
- SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language)
It is for logging users into applications based on their session in another context. It’s using a username and password so no need to remember or renew the password and all. It defines an XML-based framework for exchanging authentication and authorization information between an IdP (Identity Provider) and SP (Service Provider) to enable SSO and Identity Federation. For more to know about SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language), click SAML details
Advantages of SSO
- Ease of use: Users only need to remember one set of usernames and passwords. It’s improving productivity and eliminating the inconvenience of managing, remembering, and resetting passwords and all.
- Access Logs: All accessing details are provided like who and for what by SSO.
- Session Time: It eliminates the user from reauthenticate. So it spends less time on the authentication process leading to improved productivity. It gives ease of access.
- Centralized Database: There is one database. It includes all logs for authentication and authorization to support administration and compliance.
- Less Chance of phishing: There are fewer credentials so it means less chance of phishing. It is nearly impossible to phish emails and social engineering.
- Reduce help desk costs: It reduces the help desk cost by reducing the number of credentials.
Disadvantages of SSO
The main disadvantage of SSO is its use of one set of credentials. So if credentials are not protected properly and are stolen by someone so that thief can access your entire kingdom. But if your password is strong and often you change it for security reasons. So maybe this scenario of stolen credentials will not come. Also can use identity and service providers to overcome this disadvantage.
Also, the authentication process using Single Sign-On is slower than traditional authentication. So this way if we see, it’s quite a slow process.
Single Sign-On is an authentication process that allows a user to access multiple applications with one set of login credentials. That means once you logged in you don’t have to log in repeatedly for every other application linked. It usually makes use of a central service that orchestrates the Single Sign-On between multiple clients.
So this is the beauty of the Single Sign-On systems. The process of mobile app development has numerous factors and attributes that affect the performance, user experience, and digital presence of the application. These attributes are minor changes but have a lot of impact on the usability of the mobile app. Developers are keen to explore as well as adopt these changes and innovative developments as the idea is to develop better user-centric applications.