Single Sign-On Relieves the Password Burden for Users and IT Teams Alike

Posted by Sarah Becker Mon, 04 Nov 2013 09:52:00 GMT


Take a second to think about the amount of passwords you use everyday. E-mail passwords, bank passwords, company-resource passwords and more. An excessive amount of passwords to remember may to cause bad password habits or even worse: security issues.

For example, if a typical person logs into 50 services in a day, he or she might have to remember 30 passwords, causing bad password habits. These include using the world’s most popular password, which is “password,” using the same password for many services, using very simple passwords, such as “123456,” or using passwords associated with your personal information, such as your birthdate or social security numbers. 

Hackers love people with bad password habits because when they attempt to invade a network, they often use random password generators that create thousands of the most commonly-used passwords, and frequently achieve success.  However, IT managers hate it because due to the lack of attention to passwords, the networks they manage are exposed to the ever-increasing array of cyber threats. 

In order to prevent bad password habits and potential security breaches, a feature called single sign-on was created. Single sign-on is a capability that enables secure authentication across many series with just one password.  It allows users to be logged into multiple services when they sign in to just one.    

Single sign-on is especially relevant in today’s dispersed computing environment, where data is stored on the cloud, BYOD is increasingly popular, and people expect to have access to their information from any computer at any time.  

The advantages of single sign-on include: 

  • Fewer passwords to remember – Because people have so many passwords, they often write them down, which creates a security risk. People also tend to use the same password for multiple services, which leaves their services and personal information vulnerable to hackers. 
  • Increased productivity –Single sign-on can reduce the time in which people spend on logging into separate services by a very significant percentage.
  • Reduced vulnerability to phishing attacks – If a user is accustomed to seeing just one screen to log in, they are less likely to fall for phishing attacks, where the hacker tricks the user into giving his/her user name and passwords. 
  • Facilitates security – Developers of web services have to transmit and store user name and password information.  If a user has just one name and password for multiple ways to log in to a given services, that reduces the complexity of the authentication process.  When multiplied times several hundred or thousand employees, simplifying the authentication process dramatically improves IT and security teams’ productivity. 
  • Cut back on help desk requests - A recent Gartner study referenced in TechTarget's SearchEnterpriseDesktop notes that between 20% and 50% of all helpdesk calls are password related.  

In an upcoming blog, we’ll take a deeper look into single sign-on including the role private key encryption and Kerberos algorithms have in secure authentication. 

Readers, do you find that multiple passwords has burdened your productivity and decreased security? Please share in the comments below.

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