You may have heard that single sign-on is a helpful technology to improve IT security. Yet the question, “How does single sign-on work?” keeps coming up over and over again. For a remote workforce, a single sign-on solution is especially powerful.
How Does Single Sign-on Work: The Overview
To explain how single sign-on works, let’s look at how access works when you do not have this technology in place. Let’s say you are a software developer at a large company. Each day, you use a dozen different applications and cloud computing tools to get your work done. Since each tool has highly sensitive data, each system is protected by a unique login and password. You spend the morning using one application that requires one password. In the afternoon, you have to use several other applications. Every time you switch to use a new application, there’s a new password to enter.
With so many different passwords in play, it is no surprise that busy professionals fall victim to password reuse disease. Others may have a “password notebook” to stay productive even though such a file may not be permitted by the company’s IT security policy. Always remembering and entering new passwords slows down work, and it encourages employees to use easy-to-remember passwords that may be easier to hack.
In contrast, a single sign-on software solution changes everything. A user enters one password into the single sign-on system in the morning and instantly gets access to everything they need. Behind the scenes, the access management system confirms which applications users can access and enables access. As a result, starting new applications and getting work done becomes much easier.
How Does Single Sign-on Work to Support A Remote Workforce?
From a purely technical perspective, the answer to how single sign-on works for a remote workforce has a few differences. When an employee starts work for the day, they may log in to the VPN security tool. After that step, the user enters a single username and password. That’s it! The login process is complete, and your employees can focus on their work.
Providing a single sign-on experience to employees is a meaningful way to remove distractions. Some research has found that work-from-home employees are working longer hours—up to three extra hours, according to Bloomberg. Continually working excessive hours may lead to burnout. By removing the distraction of having to use multiple login systems each day, your employees may be able to get more done in less time.
How To Realize The Benefits of Single Sign-On At Your Organization
Knowing generally how single sign-on (SSO) works is a good starting point. That said, understanding the technology is not enough to capture the benefits. You need a plan to bring SSO to your organization. Use the following plan to bring SSO to life so your remote workforce can achieve success.
1. Assess the productivity and technology needs of your remote workforce
Installing a single sign-on software solution is helpful, but it may not be your number one IT security priority right now. If your organization is concerned about remote worker productivity, then single sign-on is a great option! On the other hand, access to password resets may be a greater need right now. If password resets are the top priority, use an IT security chatbot to handle that need.
2. Develop your single sign-on business case
A business case document will answer the question “How does sign on work?” for your organization’s specific needs. Use the step-by-step directions in our article to develop your business case: Get Your SSO Software Project Funded With a Business Case.
Tip: Make secondary benefits—like the opportunity to improve security with a more robust password policy—part of your business case to make the document more compelling.
3. Identify remote workforce stakeholders to support SSO
A remote workforce has unique needs when it comes to productivity. As a result, your approach to introducing single sign-on software needs to take their needs into account. By linking SSO to remote workforce productivity, the IT department will reinforce its role as a strategic contributor to the company’s success.
As you speak with remote workers, ask them if they would like the opportunity to support SSO. Contributing to a project is a good way for employees to increase their visibility to management. To ensure that visibility to management is part of the SSO project, schedule time with your executive sponsor.
4. Update your remote work documentation to include SSO
Large-scale remote working arrangements mean employees need new habits, especially regarding communication and security. Take a fresh look at your work-from-home security training materials. Look for ways to highlight the role of single sign-on software in these files so employees know what tools are available to them.
5. Review your password policy in light of single sign-on
Enhancing employee productivity may be a popular benefit of single sign-on software, but it is not the only one. You can also revisit and boost your password policy! When employees only need to memorize a single password, it is reasonable to expect stronger passwords. Consider rolling up longer and more complex passwords as a way to boost IT security.
6. Launch the SSO implementation (or expansion!) project
Your initial preparation is done. Bring in your project manager and put the single sign-on project into effect. By the way, this process also applies to single sign-on software migrations or expansion efforts.
Other Ways to Improve IT Security for Your Remote Workforce
There are several other ways you can improve IT security protections for a remote workforce. For example, you might ship screen protectors if you are concerned about non-employees observing confidential information. Ultimately, it is best to use a systematic process to monitor your environment for new IT security threats. Find out how to measure your access management’s systems effectiveness with access management key performance indicators.