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Enterprise SSO Solutions

Enterprise single sign-on (E-SSO) systems are designed to minimize the number of times that a user must type their ID and password to sign into multiple applications.

Most enterprise single sign-on systems work as follows:

  • E-SSO client software is installed on every user workstation.
  • Users sign into their workstation, either as they did before or through a new user interface presented by the E-SSO client software.
  • A local file, a network-attached database or a user directory stores each user's ID and password, for each system and application to which that user has access.
  • When a user launches an application on their workstation, the E-SSO client software automatically populates the ID and password fields in that application's login screen with data from the aforementioned credential storage.

E-SSO software acts as a surrogate for the user: storing, retrieving and "typing in" the user ID and password on behalf of the user. The user continues to have multiple ID/password pairs, but does not have to type them manually and may not know what they are.

With an E-SSO system, users sign into their workstation with either one or two login ID / password pairs: One set of credentials if the E-SSO captures the user's password from the initial workstation login screen, or two ID/password pairs if the user must first log into the workstation (e.g., Windows login) and subsequently into the E-SSO client software.

Some E-SSO systems support use of authentication technologies other than passwords to sign into the workstation and retrieve the user's application passwords. This may include smart cards, authentication tokens or biometric samples.

Application login IDs and passwords may be stored on a smart card, rather than on the user's workstation or on the network.

(1) Previous approaches to enterprise single sign-on systems had problems, all related to the password database where application login IDs and passwords are kept:

  • Remote Access and Mobile Devices:

    Over time, a traditional E-SSO system will respond to applications expiring passwords by choosing new, random password values, allowing the application to change passwords and storing the random password value for future reference.

    With this process in place, over time users lose knowledge of their own passwords and become dependent on the E-SSO system to sign into their applications. This means that users cannot access their applications from devices that are not equipped with the E-SSO software, such as smart phones or even their home PCs.

  • Cost to Deploy:

    Building and maintaining a database of every login ID and every password on every application can be both costly and time consuming.

  • Cost to Reset Passwords:

    Login IDs and passwords stored in a traditional E-SSO system are typically encrypted using a key derived from the user's primary network password. When users forget their primary password, they lose this key and can no longer decrypt their application passwords. As a result, password problems may be less frequent with E-SSO, but resolving them is more complicated, time consuming and expensive.

  • Security and Availability:

    In the event that the password database in a traditional E-SSO system is compromised, every user ID and every password would be exposed.

    If the password database suffers an outage, every user would be locked out of every application.

Hitachi ID Login Manager, a module included with Hitachi ID Password Manager, is an enterprise single sign-on solution. It automatically signs users into applications where the ID and/or passwords are the same ones users type to sign into Windows on their PC.

Login Manager leverages password synchronization instead of stored passwords. This means that it does not require a wallet and that users can continue to sign into their applications from devices other than their corporate PC -- such as a smart phone or tablet -- for which a single sign-on client may not be available.

Login Manager does not require scripting or a credential vault, so has a much lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than alternative single sign-on tools.

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