What Is Single Sign-on and What Are the Benefits?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 4, 2022 | Published July 21, 2021

Updated October 4, 2022

Published July 21, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Single sign-on is a service that allows users to access multiple websites or computer applications with one username and password. These systems are becoming increasingly popular, as they provide convenience for users and offer new opportunities for businesses. Passwords can also be more secure with single sign-on if you're using effective login credentials. In this article, we discuss what single sign-on is, explain its benefits and provide a few examples of it.

What is single sign-on?

Single sign-on (SSO) is an identification system that allows organizations and businesses to use other trusted sites in order to verify their users when they login to an account. SSO is the authentication method that allows access through a single shared login password or identity. Large websites commonly use these systems as an alternative to creating multiple passwords and accounts.

In SSO, there are two parts to access: a service provider and an identity provider. A service provider can be a website like an email, a social network or a financial website where a user has an account. An identity provider is usually the SSO platform. When a user visits a website with SSO functionality, they can use their credentials from a service provider to log in. The identity provider then verifies the user's information and provides access.

Related: A Beginner's Guide to Information Technology

Who uses SSO?

SSO can be a great way for businesses and individuals to maintain passwords. The following groups may use SSO:

  • Large organizations: Companies may choose to provide access to internal systems and software by authenticating employees with SSO systems.

  • Small companies: Smaller businesses may choose to use SSO for both employees and customers. They may find that having SSO as an option on their website for creating an account or purchasing a product leads to increased sales because of the ease of SSO and the added benefit of security.

  • Individuals: SSO simplifies the login process and keeps everything in one place so users can access multiple websites quickly and securely without having to remember individual passwords.

Related: What Does the IT Department Do To Help a Business?

What are the benefits of SSO?

Single sign-on has several advantages in the workplace and in your own personal internet usage. These benefits include:

  • Easier password changes: Maintaining and alerting users to the many passwords they have to use daily could be an administrative process that costs IT organizations time and money. SSO makes the process easier so that each employee only has one password.

  • Minimize workload for IT departments: SSO eliminates the need for IT staff members to create and manage individual user accounts across all the platforms their organization supports.

  • Better support for website owners: SSO helps website administrators by removing the need to save passwords, cutting down on login troubleshooting and reducing damages hackers can cause within the website.

  • Increase efficiency: Users may also find that they can access more websites or create orders online in less time, which can result in a more pleasant experience.

  • Builds trust with employees and customers: Using SSO tools also enhances security because it's difficult for hackers to steal data from an account that they can't access. If an employee's credentials get stolen, intruders won't be able to access any other systems.

  • Reduced help desk calls: Help desk calls typically revolve around password problems, like when an employee forgets their password or otherwise needs help with accessing their account. SSO solutions can help limit the number of help desk calls, which can give the IT department more time to focus on larger projects or other organizational needs.

Related: What Is MFA? Importance, How It Works and Types

Examples of single sign-on systems

When you choose SSO to access a website, you don't have to create a new password or account for each new website. Examples of single sign-on systems include:

  • Social media: Once you make an account with an email provider, you may use that login instead of registering on every site or service where available. For example, a video streaming website can use your email account for your login.

  • Job applications: Some job applications can import your information in one click from your professional networking profile. Instead of creating a new account on each company's employment website, you may use SSO to access the application and include your resume.

  • Software: Some companies choose to offer one system with email, calendars and computer software accessible through one employee portal.

Related: A Guide to Two-Factor Authentication

Tips for creating strong internet passwords for SSO

If you want to use SSO to access multiple websites, it's important to ensure that your original password or user credentials are secure. For example, if you use your email account to provide access to additional websites that provide SSO, you would want to make your email password more effective. Hackers can discover even the most complex and difficult passwords, so consider the following tips to help you create strong passwords that are easy to remember:

  • Use a long password. Try to create a password with 10 characters or more.

  • Consider using a variety of letters and symbols. Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols, like an exclamation point, a percentage or an asterisk.

  • Try to not use personal details. Consider creating a password that doesn't relate to anything personal in your life. If you need inspiration, look to your favorite television show or sports team for character names or numbers.

  • Create a password with no patterns. Make sure that your password doesn't have sequential letters, numbers or patterns. For example, don't put 1234 or QWERTY in your password, as hackers may guess your credentials.

  • Keep your password secure. Try to keep your password private by not sharing it with anyone, especially through email or text messages.

  • Use security questions for password recovery questions that are hard to guess. When you create an account online that offers security questions and answers, choose hard questions with answers not available online with a search of your name. Some security questions, like the city where you were born, are easy to guess.

Explore more articles