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The internet is filled with data. A lot of it is names, addresses, and financial account numbers. Hackers tend to gather personally identifiable information (PII). For some, it’s much easier to obtain your password to steal the information.

It’s the reason password protection is critical these days. When people set up a strong one, it minimizes the chances of a hacker breaking through. These passcodes are created either through a form-based application or a single sign-on, or SSO solution.

Which one is better to use: form-based authentication or SSO solution? Here’s a breakdown of the two processes to find out.

Form-Based Authentication

Form-based authentication is still the most accepted method across the internet. A website developer creates a password page or login page.

Once the user submits the login form, the information goes to the authentication server. If the information matches records in the database, the users can normally continue. Conversely, if authentication fails, the user is redirected to an error page. Or, they have to re-enter the correct information.

Form-Based Protection

The password is protected through two methods: cookies and secure socket layer (SSL) certificates. Cookies are added to a user’s computer to remember various pieces of information, two being the username and password. The SSL provides a secure link between the user’s computer and the destination servers.

Single Sign-On

An SSO solution looks similar to a form-based version. A user is taken to a page that asks them to create a new username and password. However, SSO isn’t based on this information being stored on individual sites.

Rather, it allows a user to access multiple locations with the same credentials once it’s properly verified via a third-party.

This form of identity and access management (IAM) relies on the establishment of trust between two domains along with data verification. Furthermore, SSO solutions take the form of tokens instead of information stored in cookies.

Once the user provides the appropriate information, the SSO solution authenticates the user. If authentication failed, the user needs to sign back on the single sign-on page.

From there, the SSO solution asks the third-party provider to validate the information. When it gives the go-ahead, it allows the user to enter the site. In addition, it passes the information through connected sites to show the user has access.

Forms Of SSO Authentication

There is one form of an SSO solution that is called Kerberos authentication. There are others that use the same protocols. For instance, a smart card solution allows authentication via a physical card or token with strong encryption.

Another version involves authentication through a form of system directory similar to what Windows uses. At the point of confirmation through the directory, the user can access various websites and applications without logging in.

Form-Based Authentication For Smaller Businesses

Not all types of organizations may need SSO. A form-based solution might be fine for smaller businesses with fewer access points.

Though not as powerful as SSO, this version of authentication is still secure as long as users follow the rules to create a strong password. This reduces the risk of obtaining information for malicious purposes.

Yet, there are two sticking points connected with this authentication type. One is randomness. Users tend to apply the same password to different pages or sites. While it helps to remember the code, it also allowed those with malicious intent to discover a pattern. In turn, they can grab the user’s data from multiple locations.

The other issue is recall. The user might create a strong password or have the computer create one for them. It works the first time, then the user forgets it and has to reset again. Each time they create an advanced password they can’t recall it. In the end, the next reset is a simpler one that hackers can access.

Advantages of Having an SSO Solution

SSO Solution Prevents Password Fatigue

On the other side, single sign-on prevents password fatigue. Instead of remembering so many passwords, the user has to recall a single one during the first access. They can perform their tasks afterward without another request for verification.

Doing this helps a number of departments. For example, it reduces the workload of a company’s help desk as a result of the fewer requests for a password reset. Furthermore, the IT team doesn’t have to maintain an enormous database that can easily get corrupted.

A Longer Period For SSO Implementation

Implementation of an identity and access management tool like single sign-on is more involved than form-based operations. Once the business’ needs are determined, user requirements and capabilities need to be reviewed.

Next, architecture has to be designed to support the SSO solution.

From there, the access control requirements are established and the third-party verifier must be chosen. Once installed, there will be testings to ensure there are no gaps in the verification process.

However, the length of time it takes to implement the SSO solution doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. There must be assurances that users can get in without trouble. Plus, the verification tools must work to secure not only their information but that of the company.

Best Practice in SSO Solution

There are some actual cons to an SSO solution that relates to passwords and productivity. An SSO password shouldn’t stay the same forever. Even with stronger security, it is best practice to change SSO password once in a while. At that point, the password has to be extra strong. Like form-based authentication, that leads to issues with recall.

Then there’s the matter of authentication outages. Should the SSO site go down without proper continuity of business (COB) plans, users and employees won’t be able to access the material. SSO doesn’t use cookies to maintain login information. Thus, if the authentication domain can’t be reached, users will either be denied access or get an HTTP error.

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The Bottom Line

Despite those disadvantages, SSO is still a more viable and secure solution that companies should consider to secure their user data and prevent hacks. Teamstack SSO solution can help those who want to set this up and automate their identity management.

Their subject matter experts (SMEs) will develop a single, intuitive way for users to access all their applications from the Teamstack dashboard or browser extension. In turn, people can securely connect to technology.

In addition, companies can take advantage of Teamstack’s variety of pre-built integrations, Single Sign-On solutions, and one-click user provisioning. These allow people to conveniently sign into any application through multi-factor authentication.

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