If you're not familiar with the idea, a single sign-on solution (SSO) is essentially a software system that enables you to sign into multiple accounts across different applications with a single username and password.
From that simple definition, you can immediately understand the appeal of the concept. Even in personal use, the ability to switch between websites and applications without having to remember different passwords (or log in to your chosen password protector for reminders) is a welcome convenience.
Beyond personal use though, SSOs are also being put to use in business environments. For businesses considering making this change, there are a few precautions to keep in mind.
First, it's important to land on the right SSO. Andrew Clymer's examination of the different types of SSOs outlines that a lot goes into this option, and the end result needs to be a system that's both secure and reliable. Additionally, companies need to practice care and vigilance once an SSO is up and running, making sure that employees are careful with their accounts and chose strategic passwords.
SSOs Can Boost Security
Some are of the opinion that an SSO can be less secure for a business, because if a user's single password is discovered, all connected applications are vulnerable. This is a fair point, but it also ignores some security benefits that outweigh concerns. First among these benefits is the possibility of stronger passwords. A How-to-Geek piece by Chris Hoffman on creating strong passwords uses a 21-character example to show a version of what people should aim for. Many increasingly argue that length and phrases are more effective than complexity. Yet, when an employee has to set up numerous passwords for different systems, he or she will be likely to choose shorter, simpler passwords to remember them more easily. An SSO means only one password is needed, and it can be longer and more complex. Additionally, an SSO can work in conjunction with two-factor authentication, adding another important layer of security even beyond a strong password.
Automation Increases Productivity
Despite growing concerns about job displacement as a result of automation, the fact remains that smaller, simpler automated tasks can actually do a lot to make people's jobs easier. To this point, a Verizon Connect article on "working smarter" by Holly Dempster makes the simple but important point that embracing technology can automate certain time-consuming tasks and wind up bringing about greater productivity. Adopting an SSO is a great example of how this can work. With this sort of system in place, employees won't waste time trying to remember passwords, getting locked out of applications, calling or emailing for support, and so on. These are all cause for small delays in any given workday, but they add up over time.
Employee Experience Improves
An added benefit of increased productivity through automation is that employees will also have a more enjoyable work experience. It's a subtle thing, but when you consider how many times you've gotten hung up trying to remember a password, it's a legitimate benefit. SSOs give employees the ability to seamlessly move between apps, doing their work without nagging interruptions.
All of these benefits make SSOs well worth considering in a modern business.