Signing up for a service via your website is the first step a customer takes to truly engage with your company. No matter what you’re offering, that sign on point is a tremendous point of decision. That’s why it’s important that you get it right. Not long ago, users had to create a login for every customer interaction online. Now there are lots of options, most prominently single-sign on.

What is single sign on?

A single sign on (SSO) is a unique authentication process that allows users utilize the same set of login credentials to access multiple applications within the same or diverse platforms. This makes their movement from one section to another fast and enjoyable.

Many popular websites have implemented this feature. Including Google, who allows the same login details for all of their products like Gmail, Google Analytics, Google Photos, Google Docs, Youtube, etc. Anyone who registers for any Google product can now login to any other Google product with the same credentials (whether they want to or not.)

Common SSO APIs

Some of the most popular Single Sign-on APIs include:

  • SAML
  • MSDN – Microsoft
  • IBM
  • OpenID
  • Oracle Identity Management
  • Ubuntu Single Sign On

This is only a short list. There are many more! Deciding which API to use is a critical first step in moving forward with this type of registration. The fact that there are this many available APIs to create a single sign-on experience speaks to its incredible popularity.

Benefits of Single Sign On

Let’s dig deeper into the nitty gritty of what SSO can do for your business.

1. Easy for users

SSO requires users to remember only one password for multiple domains which obviously simplifies the experience.

You will notice that almost all social media websites have implemented SSO and it is no coincidence. It’s designed to provide a seamless end user experience.

2. Reduces costs

Single sign on doesn’t only save users the stress of having to memorize numerous passwords, it also saves the business owner money on the cost of providing customer service.

More than half of the total number of users are likely asking for a password reset, and that means that you need more hands on deck to attend to them. However with SSO, there is a very little chance of customers forgetting their passwords as they only need one to access different platforms.

3. Encourages compliance and security consciousness

Since SSO require users to use only one password for multiple applications, it makes it easier to persuade users to go for a stronger password combination. There is this a misconception that SSO accounts are vulnerable to attacks, makes them very security conscious and actually works in your favor. SSO encourages employees to use safer security applications when working, like employing a safe security option when transferring files and so on.

4. Reduces phishing

SSO drastically reduces phishing, which is the fraudulent practice where victims are tricked into giving out sensitive information. There are simply fewer accounts that have the possibility of being hacked, which means that there’s less likelihood that they’ll be compromised. In this particular area, it’s really just a numbers game.

Drawbacks of SSO

SSO is great, but it has its downsides. Here are a few of the big ones.

1. APIs could change, making it a challenge for developers to keep up

This is one of the biggest disadvantages of SSO. In the quest of achieving the benefit of ease of use and cost reduction, you sacrifice certainty about the continuity of service.
The ever-present risk of changes in APIs is real. If the API changes unexpectedly, the SSO could stop functioning, which could cost you users, data, etc.

2. You don’t really own the data

You’re essentially handing ALL the data generated from the SSO to that third party. When users input data like emails and passwords, they are stored directly on the SSO managing platforms, so they get data first – before you do!

3. Users might not be invested in your platform

Ease of use can be a double-edged sword. SSO makes it VERY easy for users to sign up for your service, but they might not be truly invested. SSO might attract users that simply have a casual interest. This doesn’t mean those users won’t eventually convert, but a more invested user would be willing to jump through the hoops of signing up without SSO.

4. Vulnerability problems

SSO could be bad news for multi user computers. Anyone that accesses the computer can easily access all the applications connected to the SSO, should a user forget to log out.

If a business has SSO implemented, lower level employees might gain unauthorized access to platforms above their level. Also, in the case where an employee’s login details are hacked, the whole organization becomes vulnerable.

Is SSO the way to go?

Despite the setbacks, the overall benefits of SSO far outweigh it disadvantages.

There are security concerns, but those are still present in multiple sign on formats. There’s a reason that major platforms are consistently moving towards SSO. In the long game, this is just where sign on is going.

We have all used single sign on at one time or the other, what is your take on it? If you have SSO Implemented on your website, share your experience with us!


Pete Peranzo

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