If you’ve spent enough time looking into the various digital systems nonprofit organisations need to function in the modern world, you’ve probably come across the letters ‘SSO’. 

Standing for ‘Single Sign-On’, it’s becoming an increasingly popular piece of functionality for organisations of all sizes to implement. But why is this and what benefits does it bring? Today we’re taking a look!

SSO: The basics

Getting back to the very basics, SSO does exactly what it says on the tin: provides users with the ability to only have to sign in once across multiple systems and applications.

You’ve probably used SSO without even thinking about it in the past with systems like Google. If you’re signed in to Gmail, you’ll also be signed into Google Drive. You can even use your Google account to log into other websites. Technically throughout all of this, you only need to enter your password once. Google will verify your credentials afterwards.

There are various ways you can configure SSO to work, but without getting too technical, the basic explanation is that a ‘token’ is generated once you first log in which your SSO service will then provide to other platforms as authentication in place of your password.

4 benefits your organisation can expect

Even 2 years ago, a third of organisations with cloud based tooling were using SSO - and that number will only be increasing. So what are the reasons so many companies have invested in this technology? 

  1. The obvious immediate benefit of SSO is the reduction of passwords you need to create - something your users will thank you for! This could be both your internal team and your external users, depending on how your systems are set up.
  1. A side benefit of the above - expect your IT team to be much happier with you! Less need for passwords means less time dealing with forgotten passwords and trying to get into vital accounts.
  1. Using SSO is simply quicker. Instead of having to go through the password entry process across multiple sites, you simply need to add your details once and you’re off! This streamlines processes and can lead to increased sign-ups. If a member is already signed up to your self-service portal and that automatically makes them a community platform account, it’s no additional work on their part to use, reducing a key obstacle.
  1. One of the biggest benefits of SSO is that you’ve drastically reduced the effectiveness of phishing against your company. With far fewer passwords floating around, there are fewer avenues of attack for potential hackers to access your platforms.

Secure your password!

While SSO is an immensely useful technology, it’s not flawless. While SSO can reduce the risks you face from phishing attacks, you have swapped out a defensive front of multiple points of potential attack for a single point of potential failure. While it can be easier to defend one point than multiple, you should not simply be relying on SSO alone to do that for you.

If your SSO account is hacked, it means the infiltrator immediately has access to multiple systems at once. Fortunately, there is a simple solution - Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). Also sometimes known as 2 step verification, this requires users to not only verify their password on login but also to add (an) additional verification. This might be through an app on their phone, a code sent to them, a biometric reading, etc. There are multiple ways to do this, but the vital step here is ensuring your SSO password is as well protected as possible.

Getting started with SSO

So now you know more about how SSO works, how would you go about creating one? Unless you’ve got dedicated development support, you’re most likely going to want to ask an expert for help. 

Compuco has great experience in the area, having successfully delivered high impact systems with SSO functionality in the past. If you’re thinking about implementing SSO across your platforms as part of a digital transformation project, please get in touch! We’d be happy to advise you on the best solution.