How to Increase File Transfer Security with Single Sign-On (SSO)


Enhancing Cybersecurity and Efficiency with SSO: A Comprehensive Guide

In today’s digitally connected world, security has become a paramount concern for individuals and organizations alike. Astra IT recently compiled numerous statistics about cyber threats, including interesting facts such as

  • 800,000 cyberattacks occur per year
  • 300,000 new malware is being created every day
  • Nearly 33 billion accounts will be breached in 2023, with cost predicted at $8 trillion

With cyber threats evolving at an unprecedented pace, it’s crucial to adopt robust security measures. Single sign-on (SSO) is one such technology that not only enhances security but also simplifies the user experience.

In this blog post, we’ll explain SSO and demystify a common misconception, and then we’ll delve into the multifaceted advantages. Finally, we’ll wrap up with how SSO fits with managed file transfer (MFT) to secure your file transfers.

How Single Sign-On Works

diagram showing relationship between Users, SSO provider and Service Provider for authentication

In a single sign-on setup, the SSO system acts as an intermediary. When you log in using SSO, the application/service receives a token or assertion from the identity provider (IdP), which is a service that stores and verifies user identities, granting you access without exposing your credentials. Your password is never directly shared with the application or service—it has no knowledge of your SSO password. This ensures that your password remains confidential and won’t work directly with the application or service.

Dispelling an SSO Misconception

Before we get into the benefits and advantages of SSO, let’s address a common misconception: password sharing. Some individuals are wary of SSO because they believe it involves sharing their password with multiple services, potentially compromising their security. However, this is not how SSO works. As we just described in the previous section, the application or service does not receive your actual password.

Advantages and Benefits of SSO

The seamless access that SSO provides to securely log in to numerous applications is an obvious benefit to your customers / users. However, there are multiple benefits and advantages that your company experiences by adopting SSO, as the following subsections explain.

Reduced Attack Surface

Cybersecurity experts often emphasize the importance of minimizing the attack surface—the potential points of entry for malicious actors. With SSO in place, you significantly shrink this surface.

Here’s how it works: If you have SSO configured for a service, and that service becomes compromised with passwords stolen, your credentials remain secure. Why? Because there’s no local password stored with the service. Instead, SSO acts as a guardian, protecting your sensitive information.

Enhanced Control and Visibility

SSO empowers you with an unprecedented level of control and visibility over user logins, compromises and potential attacks. Unlike traditional authentication methods, SSO allows you to monitor who accesses which application and precisely when they do so.

In contrast, if the service handles authentication, you might lack access to these critical logs. Even if you do have access, managing logs for multiple applications can become a cumbersome task.

Centralized Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an invaluable layer of security. SSO centralizes MFA, making it more manageable, monitorable and user-friendly.

Consider this: The service or application you use may or may not support native MFA. If it does, integrating it introduces complexities in management, monitoring and usage. SSO streamlines the process by offering a centralized MFA authority, enhancing security without adding unnecessary complications.

Simplified User Account Management

Imagine the task of disabling user accounts across numerous applications individually. It’s a daunting and time-consuming endeavor, not to mention prone to human error. SSO simplifies this process. When you disable a user at your SSO provider, it instantly revokes their access to all connected applications. This swift and efficient account management saves time and ensures that no user retains unauthorized access.

Using SSO with Managed File Transfer

In conclusion, SSO is a powerful tool that enhances cybersecurity, simplifies user access and streamlines administrative tasks. By reducing the attack surface, offering control and visibility, centralizing MFA and simplifying user account management, SSO proves its worth in today’s threat landscape.

As cyber threats continue to evolve, embracing technologies like SSO becomes imperative for safeguarding sensitive information and ensuring a seamless user experience in our increasingly digital world. So, when considering managed file transfer solutions, choose one that supports SSO to further bolster your organization’s cybersecurity defenses and improve operational efficiency.

The ability to use SSO with your managed file transfer (MFT) solution both simplifies user management and strengthens security for users’ interactions with the tool. With SSO, user credentials remain confidential, providing an additional layer of security for your file transfers.

How SSO Works with Thru’s MFT Solution

Thru’s MFT solution supports Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) 2.0, which enables SSO authentication between customers and their IdP, like Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) or Salesforce (SFDC). Thru also allows having MFA as an option. Thru supports mixed authentication, meaning some users authenticate with SSO and others can authenticate with passwords.

Thru protects your file transfers every step of the way by incorporating zero trust security measures into every layer, including controlled access, authentication, antivirus scanning and end-to-end encryption (E2EE) in transit and at rest. Learn more about our secure file transfer »


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