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Single sign-on

(also SSO)

Single sign-on definition 

Single sign-on (SSO) refers to an authentication process that allows a user to access multiple applications with one set of login credentials, such as a username and password. While it’s much more convenient for the user, the danger is that the compromise of one set of credentials could potentially give access to all associated applications.

See also: Cryptographic key, One-time password

SSO benefits 

SSO has numerous security benefits, especially for companies, healthcare institutions, and consumer applications. For example, it makes monitoring user activities as well as managing user access easy. A company can implement security policies, such as multi-factor authentication, across all applications at once.  

How does single sign-on (SSO) work?

1. Initial user login. The user accesses the SSO-enabled application or service.

2. Authentication request. The user enters their credentials.

3. Verification. The SSO system verifies the credentials. 

4. Authentication and authorization. The SSO system creates an authentication token with the user’s identity information.

5. Token issuance. The browser receives the token and stores it, usually as a cookie.

6. Access multiple applications. Whenever the user opens another app, it checks for the SSO and validates the token with the SSO service to verify that it is authentic and still valid.