How Enterprises Can Benefit from SSO While Ensuring Secure Access

How Enterprises Can Benefit from SSO While Ensuring Secure

Although enhanced IT management, monitoring, and security control are critical benefits of Single Sign-On (SSO), the technology is primarily meant to boost productivity, often at the expense of security. Naturally, there are inherent security vulnerabilities associated with SSO that businesses need to consider.

With the average company employing hundreds of applications, it’s no surprise that Single Sign-On (SSO) has become so important. It allows for easy access and can help reduce the sprawl of usernames and passwords that plague users and frustrate administrators.

While SSO is beneficial, it is not without risk. Because it is based on a one-to-many architecture, if an identity is stolen, an attacker obtains immediate access to all of the resources that the account holder is authorized to use. Users often choose weak passwords and are vulnerable to phishing attacks.

Another issue is that not all systems can use a single sign-on solution, which leaves security vulnerabilities. While most SSO systems can serve numerous cloud-based apps, legacy and homegrown apps require a different approach. This results in identity silos and a great deal of complexity. 

On the other hand, passwords remain the weak link in any security approach, including SSO, because they do not validate the user’s identity.

Mitigating Risks Associated with SSO 

Many SSO solutions enable Multifactor Authentication (MFA), which is commonly built on top of usernames and passwords, but there is no identity verification other than what users know and have, such as their mobile phones. Combining MFA and identity verification will fill some of the shortcomings in SSO.

In the hiring process, companies that scan employees’ fingerprints, passports, or drivers’ licenses benefit from adding identity verification because they already have proof of identity with them for comparison. Identity-proofing every employee before providing credentials is a good start toward bringing SSO into the zero-trust environment, necessitating re-authentication when risk variables rise.

Also Read: Three Strategies for Businesses to Prevent Worst-Case Cybersecurity Scenarios

Businesses must validate a user’s identity to provide zero-trust access, not just demand an additional authentication factor. Because if an attacker has stolen a user’s identity, requesting re-authentication will not reveal that the access request is coming from someone who isn’t the authorized user. Any authentication technique, including SSO, cannot be trusted without this fundamental concept of identity.

Making SSO More Secure 

The crucial first step in making SSO more secure is to replace passwords as the primary method of identifying a user, but there are various techniques that can build on that effort to make it even safer and easier to use. Anomalies in user behavior patterns can be detected using security analytics. For instance, if a user has failed to log on several times or is connecting from an unusual device or location, the system can request a new secondary form of authentication.

Knowing what types of digital assets aren’t covered by SSO is also crucial. Custom-built and legacy apps, for example, are challenging to integrate with SSO. As a result, a method that combines identity verification and authentication offers the trust levels required to allow both SSO and the extension of password less access to assets not covered by SSO.

Establishing a secure password reset process is critical if an SSO implementation still relies on passwords. For instance, utilizing verified biometrics with liveness detection ensures that a static image of the user isn’t being used to spoof the system. When resetting a password, this capability can confirm that the authorized account holder is present and that an attacker is not carrying out the reset.

SSO’s one-to-many architecture is both a strength and a vulnerability. It is possible to eliminate passwords in a safe and secure manner by combining SSO with identity verification and powerful MFA.

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