What A Small Business Should Know About SSO

Every business, no matter the size, has to prioritize cybersecurity, particularly with remote work environments being so prevalent.

For example, phishing attacks can be devastating to a small business.

One way to safeguard against them is the use of a single-sign-on solution. With single sign-on (SSO), businesses can help promote more efficiency and productivity among employees so they don’t have to deal with lockout issues. An SSO solution can also help improve your organizational security.

The following are critical things to know about SSO for a small business in particular, but many of these things can be applied to organizations of any size.

What is Single Sign-On?

Single sign-on is a system that allows employees to enter one set of credentials in a cloud-based portal. Once those credentials are verified, employees can access the applications they need to do their jobs without putting in separate credentials for every application.

The SSO solution determines if the user is authorized to access the applications based on particular assigned roles and responsibilities. From your end, you can automatically provision and de-provision employees in a matter of minutes.

It’s easy to access what employees need by taking out extra steps to log in, but at the same time, high levels of security are maintained.

SSO works based on a trust relationship between the service provider and an identity provider. A third party is a centralized authenticator, confirming a user’s identity automatically as they move between applications, pages or sites.

The Threat Against SMBs

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are, on average, targeted more by hackers than larger companies.

SMBs need to evaluate the options available to them when it comes to solutions for identity management due to this threat. More than half of businesses targeted by cyberattacks are SMBs.

Around 60% of businesses that experienced an attack or breach went out of business in less than six months. No matter how successful your small business is otherwise, a data breach or cyberattack can mean the end.

Verizon found more than 80% of breaches a few years ago were due to compromised or stolen credentials. One of the factors that makes managing passwords such a difficult task is human error, and single sign-on solutions can help significantly.

Benefits of SSO

Some of the many benefits of SSO for a small business or an organization of any size include:

A better user experience for your employees. When employees can log in with a single set of credentials, they don’t have to waste time nor are they going to experience frustration because they can’t find or remember passwords.

  • Using one set of credentials can significantly increase overall productivity. SSO also allows employees to work from anywhere, at any time.
  • You can reduce time and money that would otherwise be lost to password reset issues.
  • When employees have just one set of credentials to remember, they’re less likely to write them down, create weak passwords or reuse passwords across various accounts.

While there are plenty of upsides, there can be downsides of SSO to think about.

  • With SSO, you create a single point of failure. That means if the SSO provider experiences a breach, all of your linked systems may be vulnerable. For that reason, you should use additional security measures and not rely just on SSO—two-factor authentication should be used with SSO, which we talk more about below.
  • SSO can be tough to implement in some cases.
  • If your SSO provider were to go down, it would mean business interruption and a lack of continuity.

There are costs associated with SSO implementation. The specifics of these costs vary depending on a lot of individual factors, but some of the things to consider when it comes to the financial element of the implementation of SSO include:

  • How much training will your employees need? How often will the training be required, and will the vendor provide any of the training?
  • Do you have or need a team in place to manage SSO? How does the vendor offer support services?
  • What infrastructure, including hardware and other devices will you need? Can you change what you already have?
  • Does the vendor support the applications you’re already using?

Is Single Sign-On Enough?

For many small businesses, there is more than web applications to think about. A single sign-on solution will cover part of your IT infrastructure, but you’ll likely need a full suite of identity management solutions. Building them out individually can be cost and time-intensive.

The better option than just SSO alone for small businesses is to use a Directory-As-A-Service platform. DaaS reimagines Active Directory and single sign-on for the current IT environment.

With a DaaS solution, it may also include multi-factor authentication. MFA adds additional layers of verification beyond just having a password. Depending on a user’s role or access to certain data, you might require them to use a code from a company-issued token or a biometric key like a fingerprint.

Overall, when you’re choosing an SSO solution, you do want to look for something that offers MFA and can easily scale up with your business as you grow.

Look for user management features, including DaaS which then ties users to the applications, networks and devices they need to do their jobs. You want admins to be able to manage users easily and then add them to different devices, apps and networks.

Overall a single sign-on solution can reduce the risk of some of the biggest threats a small business faces, including phishing.

SSO isn’t perfect, however, and it’s not likely to be a standalone solution because SSO point solutions focus entirely on application access, neglecting other critical IT resources.

A comprehensive SSO solution is what small businesses should be looking at for the best user experience and efficiency of access to all IT resources.

A cloud directory platform can offer that comprehensive SSO solution and also have MFA, password complexity requirements, device and user management and on-device password change capabilities.

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