How SSO looks after your passwords

Single sign-on is a great tool to ensure even better cybersecurity in your business. But what is it and how does it work? We'll tell you here.

10-04-2023 - 7 minute read. Posted in: awareness.

How SSO looks after your passwords

There are many important features you can incorporate into your daily life to ensure better cybersecurity. SSO is one of them. Multi-factor authentication not only makes it easier for you to interact online, but it is also an important element of improved cybersecurity, in addition to continuous awareness training.

What is SSO?

The abbreviation SSO stands for single sign-on. Normally, employees will create a unique password for various websites and platforms. They do this without SSO. With SSO, employees only need to log in to the SSO platform with one single password. The SSO password is a strong and unique password. In addition to the general security of a strong password, it is also the one that identifies the login to the SSO platform.

With a single password, you get access to all the codes you have for different websites.

There are different SSO providers - but in principle they all work in the same way. Some SSO platforms work by logging in and then getting a list of the different websites you have access to. You can then click on the website you want to access and you will be taken to it.

You will therefore be automatically logged in to the different sites as soon as you log in to the SSO platform.

It is faster and easier to log in to various websites when you have the SSO platform. However, there are both advantages and disadvantages to using an SSO platform. Below we take a closer look at them.

Some advantages of using SSO

One of the biggest benefits of using single sign-on platforms is that it strengthens cybersecurity. Not only does it secure your accounts, but it also makes it easier for employees to manage logins on various websites.

By using SSO, you minimize the surface area that hackers can hit. Often the same password is used for several different websites. This significantly increases the risk of hacker attacks. If a hacker cracks the code for one of the websites, they get access to many of the different sites and accounts you use. That way, they have access to all your personal data.

That's why it's better to minimize the passwords you need to remember and where you need to remember them. SSO ensures that you don't have to memorise several different passwords, but have a single one for the platform, giving you access to all the necessary websites you need.

Another advantage of SSO is that the IT department can focus on securing the SSO password, which then becomes the only point of attack that the hacker can hit. By focusing on this, IT can quickly improve and strengthen the security of that code.

Having SSO also saves the IT department a lot of time. They spend an average of 25 minutes a day solving problems related to passwords. By having SSO, you can reduce that time so that IT can use that energy to solve other problems.

SSO creates a centralized overview of employees. This gives the IT department a better overview of which websites the employees have access to. In addition, it is easier to onboard new employees with SSO - they can quickly access various pages that are necessary for them. Here, SSO is connected to the pages, so they don't have to worry about creating passwords.

As briefly mentioned, a disadvantage of SSO is that the hacker in theory only needs to crack one code to get into the SSO repository. However, there are several different security measures that the IT department can set up to minimize this risk - one of them is mentioned below.

How does SSO work?

When using SSO, you need information that can verify your identity. For example, once you have given your name to SSO, you can add several layers of security to protect your data. In a way, you have a fortress of information and make a moat with crocodiles around it to protect the information.

By providing information to verify your identity, you secure SSO even more. You don't lose control of your data either - on the contrary. The SSO handles the data so that your IT department can configure security around it. By configuring the security, they minimize the risk of others getting hold of it.

You can for instance set who can use the SSO. For example, your company is located in Copenhagen. You can therefore set the SSO settings so that everyone who uses a login must be located in Copenhagen. IT can implement this feature by adding a geographically identifying attribute to each SSO account.

In addition, the SSO can also verify different members of various groups in the workplace through different programs - this is for example by connecting Slack, Azure, etc. to the SSO.

SSO does not ensure all security

It is important to remember that SSO does not solve or ensure all types of cybersecurity threats - only parts of it. If a website or platform is not integrated with the SSO, employees can create users for the website themselves - and bypass the extra security measure.

When employees create accounts outside the IT department's security framework, it can lead to a number of uncertainties. The employee may create a number of access points for the hacker. And these access points are not visible to the IT department because the user has been created outside the SSO platform.

So, if an entry point for the hacker were to occur, IT would not be able to react as quickly if something were to happen to the SSO system. There are more employees than you'd think who create users and accounts outside the system, and IT does not know about them. When these employees create new passwords for the different websites, they will often use the password that is used for SSO, or that they use for several different sites. This minimises security even more.

Password managers and SSO

Many employees manage hundreds of passwords - some of which are not accessible with SSO.

Password managers and SSO make it easier for users to log in securely to different platforms and websites. Password managers generate passwords for your websites - and you only need to remember one to access the password manager.

When you register on a new site, the password manager will suggest a code that is unique and strong. When you subsequently log in to the site, the password manager will fill in the login information so you don't have to think about it.

In addition, password managers have time-limited passwords (cf. time-based one-time passwords) that generate new passwords every 30 seconds. This makes it nearly impossible for hackers to force access to the different websites.

To summarize..

SSO is an effective way for businesses to simplify the login process. In addition, SSO adds extra layers of security when it comes to login and your IT security.

In addition to SSO, password managers remove the blind spots that the IT department might overlook.

SSO and password managers secure personal data and make IT security even better. Therefore, the two features create a secure foundation for cybersecurity in your organization.

Author Caroline Preisler

Caroline Preisler

Caroline is a copywriter here at Moxso beside her education. She is doing her Master's in English and specializes in translation and the psychology of language. Both fields deal with communication between people and how to create a common understanding - these elements are incorporated into the copywriting work she does here at Moxso.

View all posts by Caroline Preisler

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