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How SSO Helps Organizations Migrate to the Cloud—Without Sacrificing Security

Daniel Lu
Daniel Lu
Product Marketing Manager, Single Sign-On

Have you ever tried to sign into an application just before an important meeting, only to use an incorrect password, get locked out of your account, and have to request IT to reset your password? Well, it’s safe to say you’re not alone. 

The average person has to remember at least ten passwords every day, and forgets an average of three passwords per month. To solve this, nearly 40% of users reuse the same two to four passwords across all their accounts, and 10% use just one—a practice that makes it increasingly easy for hackers to reuse stolen credentials to access important personally identifiable data.

As enterprises continue to move to the cloud, and IT integrates more applications into the network, this security threat becomes more significant. That’s why it’s imperative for organizations to modernize their identity infrastructure to control password sprawl—or completely remove passwords with federated identity. This is something single sign-on (SSO) can help with.

The enterprise cloud revolution—and how SSO can help 

Where IT would have previously rolled out standard applications across users’ workstations, they now enable a multitude of on-demand, cloud-based applications and services. However, in having to deploy each application individually, IT has to put in a lot of time and effort up front to ensure proper set up.

Each of these applications also requires their own set of credentials, and users can quickly become frustrated with having to manage and remember them all. As such, the proliferation of cloud-based enterprise apps means more helpdesk calls for credential management issues—which is frustrating for end users and IT admins alike. One estimate suggests password resets can cost organizations upwards of $70.

In addition to password sprawl, IT has to manage additional challenges as they continue to move to the cloud. The biggest is IT’s ability to enforce strong security practices. Users can now access their cloud applications from any internet connected device from any location. IT needs a centralized hub to manage and oversee authentication events across all their users, applications, and devices.

How SSO supports a frictionless move to the cloud

SSO provides employees with a single point of access to all of their cloud and on-premises apps, across all devices and locations. This is especially important for companies operating across multiple countries, with geographically dispersed employees, and those with multiple subdivisions. 

For end users, SSO provides a seamless and consistent experience that only requires them to remember one password to access their tools—virtually eliminating password fatigue across the organization. Modern SSO also offers end users self service password reset capabilities to manage their forgotten credentials themselves, making password reset tickets a thing of the past. 

For IT, SSO helps contain costs while increasing IT efficiency and avoiding security risks. For example, as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) migrated towards the cloud, the agency opted to use Okta’s SSO as the entry point for all of its applications, including Box, Office365, ServiceNow, and other legacy software—a decision that reduced costs by 83% compared to its previous on-prem infrastructure. 

With the Okta’s Integration Network, IT has access to over 6,000 pre-built integrations, allowing them to quickly deploy new applications. This saves IT both time and money as new application roll outs happen in days or weeks rather than months or quarters. 

When it comes to enhancing security, SSO allows businesses to improve their stance against data breaches with centralized security policies for users and applications that: 

  • Require additional authentication factors such as SMS or Yubikey
  • Ensure passwords are complex and expire after a set period of time
  • Takes into account user context such as location, IP, and device
  • Lock accounts after numerous unsuccessful attempts

Locking down identity access

It’s vital for businesses to have a complete Identity and Access Management strategy as they continue to adopt cloud apps. One key aspect of this is a modern SSO solution, which consolidates access behind a single policy framework. With SSO, businesses will ensure their users will have the right level of access to all their resources, wherever they are. 

For more information on how to move your enterprise away from passwords, download our whitepaper Move Beyond Passwords.

Daniel Lu
Daniel Lu
Product Marketing Manager, Single Sign-On

Daniel Lu is a Product Marketing Manager at Okta focused on Okta’s Single Sign On product. He’s responsible for growing the Single Sign On business and takes every opportunity to discuss why Okta has the best Identity and Access Management platform in the market. Daniel has focused his career on scaling great businesses. Prior to Okta, Daniel was part of business strategy at Adobe and before that, he co-founded a golf company.

Daniel holds an MBA from Northwestern University and a BS in Electrical Engineering from University of California, Davis. He’s a rare Bay Area native and currently lives in San Francisco. When he can, Daniel tries to make time for international travel, new restaurants, and exercise.