How to Choose Your SSO Strategy

CIOs are busy moving their organisations to the cloud and finding ways to reduce demands on their IT teams. They are also faced with the challenge of developing efficient, and effective, access management. A key component of this is a Single Sign-On (SSO) strategy. SSO means that with just one log-in, a user gains access to all of his or her necessary systems.

To decide on an effective SSO strategy, CIOs need to follow three steps. First, understand the benefits of SSOs and be able to explain them to other executives. Second, identify the specific needs of the organisation. And finally, choose a product that will both meet those needs and deliver the benefits.

Understanding the benefits of SSO

Firms that implement SSO gain plenty of advantages. For starters, SSO eliminates the problem of password fatigue. That's the phenomenon where adhering to the usual recommendation of a unique, complex password for every site or system actually reduces security. Faced with overwhelming password requirements, users often simply give up and adopt poor practices like using the same password across multiple services or choosing memorable passwords that are easy to crack.

With single sign-on, users can focus on memorising one strong, high-quality password. Having just one password also reduces time-consuming calls to IT help desks asking for password resets.

Another bonus is that single sign-on can help with compliance. Because IT gains the ability to set user credentials, the user's access can be strictly controlled. For example in a company that must be mindful of financial regulations, a particular user could be allowed to see financial statements but not edit them, making Sarbanes-Oxley requirements easy to adhere to.

Identifying your SSO needs

When choosing an SSO strategy, consider two big trends that are shaping how users are accessing apps within your organisation. First, businesses are moving to the cloud. Second, the workforce has become mobile and flexible.

Migrating to the cloud

Companies who aren’t working in the cloud yet may be struggling to manage user access to systems with a hodgepodge of various scripts, servers, and other cobbled-together tools. The cloud presents the opportunity for an all-in-one environment where employees can access all of their applications with just one username and password.

Cloud-based identity and access management solutions can also allow different departments to adopt applications they need to do their best work. In short, the cloud environment allows SSO to be implemented much more seamlessly than piecemeal solutions that have been devised overtime on the local IT infrastructure.

Building a more flexible mobile workforce

Contingent workers, independent contractors, on-call workers, workers provided by contract firms, and other flexible or nomadic workers are all becoming more common. These individuals might use BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) smartphones to access company networks. Businesses need strong mobile policies and strong security to ensure that these personnel have the proper levels of access—not too much, not too little. A good SSO solution needs to recognise this reality. Look for technology that manages identity with adaptive access rather than all-or-nothing access.

Reviewing available SSO products

With the benefits to be gained firmly in mind, CIOs can turn to implementing products that will meet the needs of the organisation.

Okta is an enterprise-grade identity management solution that was born and built lives in the cloud. It provides single sign-on, adaptive access, and everything else businesses need to manage access across applications, personnel, and devices. Okta Single Sign-on in particular can reduce helpdesk calls, speed up the login process, and fit an SSO strategy where the cloud and the changing workforce play key roles in companies' futures.

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