The Perfect Security Duo: Single Sign-On and Password Manager

Benjamin Scott
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The best practices for identity and access management (IAM) within a business setting require the use of appropriate security tools and platforms to keep valuable and otherwise sensitive data secure at all times. The combination of single sign-on (SSO) and a password manager is one set of such tools and platforms that perfectly compliment each other. Here’s what you need to know about the duo of SSO and a password manager if you’re looking to build a secure system within your organization.

What is single sign-on and what is it used for?

Single sign-on solutions are often confused with password managers because both are solutions designed to make logging in safer and easier. Yet the two are rather different.

SSO is pretty much what it sounds like. It is an identity and access management (IAM) solution that allows users to sign in to all the required platforms or applications at once with a single set of login credentials.

In most instances, businesses employ SSO as a security and productivity measure. Primarily, it lowers password fatigue, which is a real threat. When employees are required to have multiple passwords for all the different platforms and applications they use, they often choose to create simple ones they can remember. They also often start reusing those weak passwords for convenience, which is a recipe for disaster.

The Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 2020 notes that 80% of all hacking-related data breaches use stolen or weak credentials and passwords. And, with 2,935 publicly reported data breaches in only the first three quarters of 2020 (which, by the way, was dubbed as the “worst year on record” in terms of data breaches), it’s quite natural that businesses employ SSO and look for other additional layers of security. This is where the combination of a password manager and an SSO solution comes in handy.

Putting the two together: Password manager and SSO

Before we jump into why SSO and password managers work so well together, it’s important to understand the differences between the two.

A password manager is a piece of security software built with the intention of providing a single secure place – often referred to as an encrypted vault – to store passwords and often other valuable information. The focus for a password manager is, as the name suggests, to protect passwords and make their management more effective. However, a password manager is just one part of a comprehensive IAM approach.

SSO solutions, on the other hand, provide a different approach to IAM. They shift the focus from managing passwords to managing access. SSO is built on trust. Once a user is trusted by one system, they automatically gain access to other systems that are on the same trusted network. All the user needs is a single set of login credentials. Simply put, if a user logs in to a company network using SSO to authenticate their identity and tries to launch an app or access resources, he or she does not need to sign in again.

Once you consider the foundational differences between SSO and a password manager, it is rather clear how the two can work together and compliment each other. While SSO implementation can eliminate the need of multiple passwords and so reduce password fatigue, a password manager can be more than just an encrypted password vault. In most cases, password managers can identify weak or old passwords, and most also offer password generators that create complex and unique passwords to properly secure your business accounts.

Moreover, SSO makes access management a lot easier for the IT team. It allows to set up security guards that ensure that the right users have the right level of access to company resources or data. SSO solutions can also be a great way to configure a user’s access privileges based on their role within the company. All of this allows for transparency.

When used together, SSO and a password manager greatly increase the overall security posture of any organization. The two greatly reduce the need for multiple passwords, which limits the vectors of failure when it comes to compromised passwords.

In the context of the modern-day business, which more often than not operates online, organization leaders should think of a password manager and an SSO solution as an IAM duo rather than separate solutions.

If you are an organization leader looking to boost your cybersecurity game within the company, do not hesitate to contact us and schedule a demo call to see if NordPass Enterprise is the right fit for you.

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