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What Is SSO? How Single Sign-On Authentication Works

Tram Nguyen
April 03, 2019

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Proper authentication gains users access to the content and controls of web-based applications. But multiple passwords slow down access and productivity in some cases.

What is SSO? SSO isolates authentication down to one sign-on, opening the doors to many systems.

Two-factor authenticating doesn’t guarantee online security and isn’t as convenient as believed. It is a trusted form of authentication. But, if a user forgets of one of the passwords or pins, the system treats them as a hacker.

They’re locked out, trapped behind a sign-on factor, forced to reset their account. And, some account recovery features make it easy for hackers to gain access and lock you out of your account.

More of today’s systems are gravitating towards single sign-on. Here’s how SSO works to protect your identity and your data.

What is SSO?

Before modern advancements in security, many systems relied on multi-factor sign-on. Some systems still do, and it works for them.

SSO is the opposite, requiring only one sign-in to gain online entry to many systems.

SSO stands for single sign-on. This type of authentication centralizes the sign-on to a single login system. It allows users to authenticate themselves with several websites and apps. The user logs in using a single set of credentials.

How SSO Works

Single sign-on authenticating relies on trust. Different domains form a digital relationship built on the assurance of SSO.

Here’s how it works:

  • A website or application verifies if you’ve passed validation by the SSO. If so, you’re granted access. If not, you’re redirected to an SSO solution sign-in page.
  • As with normal logins, you’re prompted to enter an established username and password.
  • The SSO solution searches and requests online authentication from an identity provider. This is the system your company uses to authenticate.
  • The single sign-on solution passes identity data to one of the websites or applications. You’re then returned to that site or application.
  • As long as you remain logged in, your verification data courses with you. That means you’re verified each time you land on a new page on a site or access another.

It’s similar to a video game. Little identity tokens grant users access to different websites within the SSO solution. As long as the user remains logged in, they can navigate within the authenticating framework.

Benefits of Single Sign-On

SSO takes the stress out of accessing online platforms. The ease and swiftness of the solution offers up many benefits.

1. Spikes in Productivity

Adults spend on average almost four years of their lives trying to recall passwords. Time wasted means money lost. SSO increases productivity by eliminating time spent remembering multiple passwords and pins.

2. Reduces Help Desk Costs

A large percentage of most help desk calls involve password issues and resets. Using single sign-on helps save a company between $25 and $113 per call.

3. Better Auditing 

Most companies struggle with the auditing process. SSO helps track workstation and application usage. It also keeps track of credential and password sharing.

Research different SSO solutions until you find the right one to implement.


Identity and data protection defines what is SSO. As companies migrate outside of multi-factor authenticating, single sign-on becomes the solution.

Consider the many benefits of SSO—increased productivity, reduced costs, and improved auditing. Find an SSO solution that fits the needs of your company’s identity process.

Find out how we can help. Request a demo to work towards securing your workforce’s identity.

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