Have you ever created an account or logged in to a website by clicking “Sign in with Google”, or been asked to verify that you’re “not a robot”? If you have, you’ve used an identity provider (IdP), probably without even realizing it. Identity providers are third-party trusted companies that help you authenticate your credentials on behalf of a website or other online application, removing the need to establish trust with every service you use. For businesses, IdPs are more than just a convenience—they’re also an important component in strong security strategies.
Identity providers for business
Identity providers handle the storage and authentication of the credentials users use to log in to systems, applications, file servers, and other digital resources. They save users the hassle of creating and remembering new usernames and passwords, while sparing website owners the trouble of protecting and storing user credentials. Because IdPs are trusted providers, they eliminate the concern of weak security on the part of third-party applications, adding a second, stronger protection layer between your data and any bad actors.
Identity providers keep you safe and compliant, without friction
Each time users want to create a new account or sign in on a cloud app, website, or internal company resource, an identity provider can step in, already configured to accept authentication requests. The trusted IdP collects users’ credentials, validates them, and denies or grants the user access to the requested digital resource.
By leveraging a trusted third-party IdP, businesses can easily achieve and maintain compliance (with mandates such as GDPR, PCI DSS, or HIPAA). The IdP keeps a record of all access events, making it easy for enterprises to know who accessed what and when. This is a huge benefit during security audits, which otherwise can prove to be costly headaches.
Robust security measures
The responsibility of securing users’ credentials lies with the IdP, and a good identity provider will have robust layers of additional protection built into their system to help safeguard user credentials. Such layers help prevent brute force attacks, malware, DDoS, phishing, social engineering attacks, and other cybersecurity threats.
Reduce login friction
By allowing employees and customers access to digital resources and services using their existing digital identities, businesses significantly reduce login friction. Single sign-on is a common service available through identity providers, eliminating the need to remember hundreds of complex passwords. This enables users to easily, quickly, and securely create accounts and log in using their social IDs and other authentication criteria.
This not only benefits a user’s digital login experience but also improves data breach security. As users create more and more accounts, the hassle of remembering different usernames and passwords for multiple platforms grows progressively worse. That leads to the bad habit of password recycling, and hackers who gain access to an employee’s personal accounts can leverage those same credentials to access company resources and other privileged information.
Today’s identity providers go the extra mile
For on-prem systems, Microsoft Active Directory or OpenLDAP have been the go-to identity providers. But with the advent of new IT infrastructure (especially cloud services that use new protocols), a new generation of identity providers has emerged to handle the needs of the evolving IT landscape.
The current generation of IdPs falls into a much larger space, that of identity and access management (IAM). With a robust IAM solution, businesses can handle the complexities of storing and authenticating identities in the modern, connected world. Safely, without friction, and with the comfort of knowing they’re always compliant.