What is SAML authentication, and how can it help to improve your company’s IT security? Keep reading to find the answers.
What Is SAML Authentication: A Definition
SAML is an abbreviation that means Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML). It is an open standard that lets organizations exchange authorization and authentication data. Strictly speaking, SAML is a markup language similar to XML or HTML. To correctly answer the “What is SAML authentication?” question, some further context is needed.
Introduced in 2006, SAML 2.0 works in the following way: An end-user provides their login information. This data is then passed between a SAML authority (also known as an “Identity Provider”) and a SAML consumer named a Service Provider. Let’s define those roles further:
● SAML Authority (i.e. Identity Provider). Think of the identity provider as passport control at the airport. The identity provider checks your credentials to verify your identity. Once you pass through that check, you are sent to the service provider.
● SAML Consumer (i.e., Service Provider). The service provider gives you access to a system or software. To continue the travel analogy, you can board your flight (i.e., service provider) after your identity has been checked.
In IT, a common identity provider would be Microsoft Active Directory or LDAP. A service provider would be a software application such as a customer service system. For added security, SAML information can be encrypted, which makes it much more difficult to attack.
Tip: Even when you use SAML authentication, access credentials may still fall into the wrong hands. In those situations, you need back up ways to keep data safe. Use the principle of least privilege to lower the likelihood of lost data.
What Are The Benefits of SAML Authentication?
There are a few reasons why SAML authentication is attractive. First, this authentication type makes a single sign-on easier, which saves time for all of your users. Second, SMAL authentication is an open standard. As a result, it is easier to understand inside out. If you encounter authentication problems, you can solve them easier with SAML by discussing the problem with other professionals who use SAML.
Knowing About SML Authentication Is Not Enough To Keep Your Data Safe
Now that you understand the theory behind SAML authentication, it is vital to act on this knowledge. Otherwise, you are merely gathering facts and doing nothing to protect users and data. You might feel inspired to implement a few related IT security projects: single sign-on software and improve your passwords. Let’s take a look at both of these project ideas.
Why And How To Implement Single Sign-On
IT security measures are vital to keeping your company safe from threats like malware, ransomware and hackers. However, these security safeguards are sometimes perceived as interfering with business needs. If IT security gets in the way of getting work done too often, you could have a significant problem on your hands.
Before long, employees may seek to work around corporate security protections to get their work done. There is a way to prevent this issue—make IT security easier proactively. This is where adding (or improving) a single sign-on solution to your company makes a big difference.
Selecting a software solution is the critical step to installing a single sign on to your organization. Consider Avatier’s single sign-on software as one option. Your employees benefit right away because they have fewer steps to get down to work each day. There are also financial benefits of using Avatier’s solution. Cloud software usage is automatically tracked with each login.
Consequently, you will find out which users use which applications. That means you can scale back the number of software licenses you pay for. As a result, IT leaders can demonstrate they are responsible stewards of the company’s dollars.
Why and How To Improve Your Passwords
Even with the rise of passwordless authentication and multi-factor authentication, passwords remain critically important. There are a few ways you can strengthen passwords in the next few months. You could focus on your IT security policy and require employees to create more complex passwords. Augmenting a company policy is helpful because it clarifies expectations. It is unwise to rely exclusively on an improved corporate policy. Your employees are busy and may not take the time to study IT security policies thoroughly. That’s why you need password software that makes life easier for your employees as well.
By installing Apollo, you will achieve two goals at once. Your IT help desk will no longer have to dedicate hours every week to addressing password change requests. Also, your employees will have the ability to request new passwords 24 hours a day. Since it is easier to forget a complicated password, your employees may request password resets more frequently. Happily, Apollo doesn’t judge your employees. It can issue as many passwords resets as they need.
What To Do If You Cannot Get Funding To Improve Your IT Security Program
Once you know the meaning of SAML authentication and see how single sign-on makes life better for users, you may still face problems. Non-IT security specialists may be skeptical about the value of your efforts. Explaining SMAL authentication to them in depth is unlikely to be appealing.
Instead, you need to develop a persuasive business case to gain funding and support for single sign-on software. Assuming you are seeking approval from executives unfamiliar with technical IT security matters, emphasize strategic benefits. As a result, tell your leadership about emphasizing employee productivity and making IT security less distracting. There is no need to discuss SAML authentication unless someone specifically asks you about it.
Larger organizations may have a specific business case document or process for you to follow. If your company does not have that process in place, you will have to develop the request on your own. Consider designing a PowerPoint presentation or memo outlining the benefits and your request for a single sign-on project resource. Your project request may need to include the cost of a single sign-on software, a project manager to oversee the implementation, and expert help to update policies and procedures.