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Improving User Experience Everywhere with Single Sign-On

by BIO-key Team 0 Comments

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit a lot of offices, many organizations have migrated to a fully remote or a hybrid workforce. Regardless, a lot more employees and users find themselves in a more digital environment than before, so improving digital user experience has been a priority for some. Say, for example, you’re an average office worker or student trying to access your work. You wait for the computer to start up, and then you log in.

Or you try to, at least.

This isn’t the first time you’ve been patient with your computer only to be let down, and it won’t be the last. Logins can be a pain in the neck, even if your computer manages to remember your initial password. What about all the other passwords? If you are going to log in to LinkedIn, Adobe, Office 365, Spotify, Twitter, etc., do you have ALL of your passwords stored in your mind? Of course not.

If you list “logging into multiple applications in a day” on your resume as a skill set, this is a sign that you may be dealing with too many applications and log in prompts.

How about a different sector: gaming. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, gaming has always gone online, and this new age of online connectivity enabled gamers to play with ours around the world, whether it be through cooperative and competitive gaming. However, with each different online game may mean a different development team and leads to a completely separate login for each one. If you generally play five different games at once, especially online, you have to remember concurrently, five separate logins. Of course, you cannot make those passwords simple either; today, game companies enforce stronger password policies to avoid user data being compromised. Countless login prompts can lead to multiple problems including using weak, easy to remember passwords that are fresh for the hacking. Sometimes, even account lockouts can occur due to forgotten passwords. Oh the agony and pain all of these login prompts; there has to be a better way!

The point is, improving user experience at the login access should be a priority everywhere.

Improve User Experience The Simple Way

Sure, we live in a time of tremendous technological advances, and with these new advancements comes a deeper need to secure your information. But to what extent? How necessary is it to fill out your ‘personal’ information and passwords each time you go to a website? Heck, why does logging in have to be some annoying, repetitive process? In order to improve user experience for your end-user, you need to find a solution!

Logging in doesn’t have to feel this way anymore. If you really want to improve user experience, then take my advice: look for Single Sign-on.

Single Sign-on is a process in which the user logs in once and gains access to all systems without being prompted to log in again at each of them. The best part? With an appropriate password policy in place for that initial login, Single-sign on will not only improve user experience, but make it more secure as well!

"If I only have one password, how is that more secure?", you are probably thinking. Well, if you having one login that you can remember, you can also make it a lot stronger. Organizations do this by influencing strict password policies on that sole password which is much stronger than having five separate simpler passwords.

Why Single Sign-On?

Single sign-on (SSO) allows you to easily synchronize passwords between applications. Ultimately, this reduces the number of login prompts to a single, magnificent login portal. Taking this one log in approach can make life easier for everyone involved actually, both end-users and IT professionals alike.

Most users make the mistake of logging in to multiple programs or applications using the same password, just because it is convenient. By doing this, they make their accounts less secure by opening them up to a simple workaround from a potential attacker. With a single sign-on solution in place, users only need one strong password committed to memory, and other randomized passwords can be created and stored for the remaining programs. You can improve user experience by having a solution that works with you and takes away the hassle of complicated passwords that you will never remember.

If you are trying to get through the work day faster, or at least with a little less stress, SSO may be that heaven-sent solution that changed your life.

Why not take that first step and improve your user experience? I mean, come on: How do YOU feel about logging in to multiple systems, multiple times a day?

End User Benefits

When looking at single sign-on from an end-user perspective, there are many benefits that make their lives easier on a daily basis. Reducing the annoyance of multiple login prompts is one of the most evident benefits. On top of that, not having to stop the daily workflow to log into an application to move to the next step is definitely a benefit worth its weight in gold.

Having to remember one username and password is also a huge benefit; this reduces the likelihood of forgetting the username and/or password associated to access your accounts. With your environment’s current situation without single sign-on, how many applications are your end users logging into on a daily basis?

If your answer is anything over three, chances are you need a single sign-on solution. For each application they need to log into, there is always a corresponding user name and password. The more user names and passwords they need to remember the more stressful it is for the end user, they have many things on their minds already and having to remember multiple passwords and user names adds to the weight that is already on their shoulders.

With an SSO solution in place you are taking some of that burden off their shoulders by providing them with the responsibility of only needed to remember one user name and password. This makes them less stressed and more productive in their jobs.

A happy end-user makes for a happy IT department!

IT Professional Benefits

As mentioned above, SSO allows you to easily synchronize passwords between applications and from the IT professionals point of view there are many benefits too. Much like the end-users, the IT professional will only have to manage the one password for each end-user. This makes life at work easier to manage.

Since there will only be one password for the end-user to remember, you can really flex your password policy muscle. This will make enforcing your password policy much easier and possibly even allow you to increase the password strength by requiring more characters per password. However, keep in mind that you do not want to make the password requirements too complex. One of the underlying benefits of SSO is the possibility of a reduction in password related helpdesk calls. If you make the requirements too complex you run the risk of your end-users forgetting the one password they need to remember.

Either way, requiring your end-users to enter one stronger password will result in stronger authentication protection than multiple weak passwords, or even worse… One weak password used across multiple platforms!

When considering integrating an SSO solution you may ask yourself many questions, like “what applications can I integrate?” and “How many applications can I integrate?” Chances are that the answer is all of them. Many SSO providers have built their solutions to integrate with SAML and CAS protocol applications.

Like many things in your life, most of the heavy lifting is performed during the installation with an SSO solution. This may seem scary, but if you team with the right SSO provider, they will walk you through this process, making the whole experience as delightful as possible. They will guide you through all aspects of the deployment, including how to easily synchronize passwords between applications.

Single, Consistent User Interface: a Solid Example

Oh the humanity! Imagine a world where end users are forced to juggle multiple passwords. Blizzard was smart, though, and they saw the writing on the wall. As their game catalog grew, they developed a single consistent user interface for their end users. Their Battle.net app is a glorious place where gamers can login once and gain access to the games they love to play. It’s simple, easy, and I love them for it!

With a game developer like Blizzard leading the charge, one would think that other business industries would take a page out of their book. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Many are still bogging down productivity of their customers or employees by not giving their end users a single, consistent user interface.

Whether an end user is pushed to a login portal where they can achieve Single Sign-on to their applications, something needs to be done to provide convenience to the end user. Today’s average user is constantly plagued with an over whelming number of password prompts. Each login prompt increases the likelihood of a forgotten password and eventually leads to a locked account after repeated unsuccessful attempts. This frustration will only continue to grow over time as more applications are heaped on top of the pile. This will ultimately snowball into an unmanageable hulking mass of letters, numbers, and special characters.

Putting it Into Perspective

I like the fact that I can click on my Battle.net desktop icon and get access to my games. Why should non-gamer folks miss out on the convenience of this luxury?

We can all agree, whether you are a gamer, employee or just a customer, juggling multiple login prompts is just plain annoying. Time is limited, and once it passes, we can never get it back. Having that single, consistent user interface helps maintain that annoyance, and save precious time.

Think about your smart phone. This device unlocks the world for you right in the palm of your hand. Imagine if you had to log into each function separately on your phone? Granted, you may have a lock to access the device itself. Beyond that initial log in, however, you can roam relatively freely among the many different functions of the phone.

Your phone would suddenly turn into a burden because of having to log in separately each time you wanted to do something simple like make a phone call or send a text message. That may sound ridiculous now, but if you think about the way things are going and the future of smartphone apps, it is not as farfetched as one might think. When at work you are typically required to log into each application you use that is not stored locally on the device.

Just look at the development of Google's Chrome Book, a notebook that accesses almost everything through apps and cloud storage. Turn back the clock 10 years and doing such a thing would be almost unheard of and crazy. Now that this is the new “norm” though, people like the quickness of the device and have come to accept that this is the new way of doing business. On a smart phone you also have apps that connect you to a cloud application, but there are still actions that are ingrained in the phone itself, like text messaging and also the functionality of making a phone call.

Improve User Experience with SAML SSO

The ideal solution for improving user experience is a product that can create a single or federated authentication process to handle multiple local and cloud applications, while providing a centralized point of secure access. Implementing a SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) SSO option with PortalGuard as the Identity Provider achieves the goal of eliminating password issues while providing more:

  • Reduce the number of passwords users are required to remember and manage.
  • Implement and enforce configurable password policies.
  • Reduce password-related Help Desk calls related to password and access issues, and many more.

Read more about the benefits of an SAML SSO option in our eBook here.

Tags: Authentication, best practices, identity management, #passwords, PortalGuard, SSO, SAML, Single Sign-On

BIO-key Team

Author: BIO-key Team