A malicious user gaining access to your apps can be catastrophic. Here’s how a secure SSO could help.

In any enterprise, it is a given that employees will come and go, and many will switch roles within the organization as well. At the same time, the same is true for the applications that the company uses – new apps will be deployed, old ones will be retired, and changes are constant.

What this means is a continuous churn – in identity management for users, and service providers, by means of the SaaS applications in use. Ensuring data and app security across the organization depends heavily on ensuring secure communication between your identity provider and service providers.

Deploying a robust Single Sign-On (SSO) solution represents the best answer to this challenge. An SSO allows an enterprise to manage the identities of employees in one place, and delegate access and privileges from there.

Most SaaS providers support SSO integration as it is the most efficient route to centralized identity and access management. The SSO authentication method also enables users to securely access multiple apps and websites with a single set of credentials, which reduces issues like password fatigue, which boosts security, lowers IT help desk load, and increases organizational efficiency.

How SSO works

To get your SSO in place, you need to find the right identity provider. The identity provider is essentially a service that securely stores and manages digital identities. An SSO works based on a trust relationship between the app and the identity provider.

Organizations establish a trust relationship between an identity provider and their service providers to allow their employees or users to then connect with the resources they need. Such a trust relationship is established by exchanging digital certificates and metadata. The certificate carries secure tokens which contain identity information like email address and password, to authenticate that the request has come from a trusted source and to verify identity. 

Although SSO can work with as many apps as the organization wants, each must be configured with a unique trust relationship.

How the Service Provider-Identity Provider relationship works

Once an identity provider is onboarded, every time a user tries to connect to a service provider, the sign-in request is sent to the central server where the identity provider is hosted. The identity provider validates the credentials and sends back a token. If their identity cannot be verified, the user will be prompted to log into the SSO or verify credentials using other methods like a TOTP. Once the identity provider validates the credentials it sends the user a token.

The token confirming the successful authentication is validated by the service provider against the certificate initially configured and shared between service provider and identity provider, after which the user can access the application.

The identity provider verifies the user credentials and sends back an ‘authentication token’ (almost like a temporary ID card) to the service provider. And, of course, all this happens in a fraction of a second.

Advantages of using SSO

  • Simplifies credentials management for users and admin
  • Improves speed of app access
  • Reduces time spent by IT support on recovering passwords
  • Offers central control of password complexity and MFA
  • Simplifies provisioning and de-provisioning
  • Secures the system as information moves encrypted across the network
  • Completely seamless/transparent to the user
  • Easy to add on new service providers

Akku is a powerful identity and access management solution that can enhance data security, efficiency, and productivity across your corporate network through its robust SSO feature. If you would like assistance on ensuring secure access for all your users to your organization’s applications, do get in touch with us.

Burn down the Firewall! The Future is Device-level Security

Many enterprises have built their cybersecurity around their firewalls. But increasingly, the firewall is losing favor in modern enterprises with apps and data on the cloud being accessed from devices and networks anywhere in the world. 

The traditional cybersecurity tool is a network security device that monitors traffic to or from the network. It allows or restricts traffic based on a defined set of security rules.

Legacy firewalls: Blurring boundaries

The issue with this is that firewalls do not go far enough in securing your systems. By the nature of their operation, firewalls create boundaries around your network. Today, with enterprises using many interlinked networks, multiple IPs and cloud computing, boundaries are fading. As a result, firewalls are less effective.

Based on a recent study, businesses are increasingly mistrustful of firewalls. Over 60 percent of respondents stated that: (1) their legacy firewalls don’t prevent cyberattacks against critical business and cloud-based applications; (2) their legacy firewalls cannot contain a breach of their organization’s data center perimeter; and (3) their legacy firewalls do not enable enterprise-wide Zero Trust.

As Gartner puts it, Zero Trust is “useful as a shorthand way of describing an approach where implicit trust is removed from all computing infrastructure”.

In addition, legacy firewalls impact organization flexibility and speed to a large extent. It is hard to update security rules on the firewall, and the study found that on average, enterprises take as much as three weeks to update firewall rules to accommodate any update needed. This can have a crushing security impact. They also limit access control, with policies that are often not sufficiently granular.

For all these reasons, legacy firewalls are increasingly falling into disfavor with enterprises of all sizes.

Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)

A traditional firewall stands between your network and a non-trusted network (for example, the Internet). However, cloud data and apps are hosted on the Internet and as a result, legacy firewalls are not very good at protecting apps and data on the cloud.

Just like a traditional firewall protects the trusted network against attacks, a CASB protects cloud assets (applications, data, platforms and infrastructure) against cyberattack. They act as a foundational cybersecurity tool and resolve many of the issues associated with legacy firewalls.

A cloud-hosted or on-premises software, a CASB acts as an intermediary between users and cloud service providers, and can secure SaaS, PaaS or IaaS environments. It provides visibility into application access, maintains logs of activity, and allows enterprises to modify and create policies that suit cloud infrastructure and assets. A good CASB brings together key elements of privilege access management (PAM), identity and access management (IAM) and identity governance and administration (IGA).

Identity and Access Management solution (IAM)

As many as 90 percent of businesses believe that an IAM is indispensable to their cybersecurity plans. An IAM offers device-level security. This helps plug the gaps left by legacy and CASBs. Through IAMs, enterprises can provide granular access control, with unique rules defined for each user and class of user.

IAM offers comprehensive password management support, in the form of password policy management and single sign-on (SSO) SSO allows users to create and remember just one set of credentials for a whole suite of applications. This reduces risk of password loss and noting the password in unsafe locations. With password policy management, businesses can define rules to create strong, secure passwords that are less prone to cracking.

User-friendly provisioning and deprovisioning makes errors less likely. IT administrators find it easier to remember to revoke access when employees leave the organization when deprovisioning can be done with a single click. This also secures cloud apps against unauthorized access.

In a very real way, identity is the new firewall. When the device is secure against unauthorized logins, business-critical apps and data are as well, whether housed on-premises or on the cloud. Secure identity and access with an IAM you trust – like Akku, the premier IAM. Contact our experts today to discuss how to get started.