Understanding SSO, SAML, and a free application to test them

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Some IT elements have become more popular in recent years. There are always new ones coming out, and your company’s IT staff would do well to keep up to date. In this article, we’ll talk about some IT elements your employees should know, including SSO, SAML, and a free application that you can use if you want to test them.

What exactly are SSO and SAML?

Before entering free SSO and SAML test apps, we should define each of these terms, so that you know what they mean. We will start with SSO, which stands for Single Sign-On.

Large companies or organizations are the entities that seem to appreciate this concept the most. Single sign-on begins with a single secure password that users must use to log into the corporate or entity system, as they were many years ago before more complex authentication methods existed.

At this point, however, after the initial worker log in, things become quite different from how they were before. Now SAML comes into play. SAML stands for Security assertion markup language. It is an open standard through which parties can exchange authentication and authorization data.

The most common time your business might use SAML is when you have both an identity provider and a service provider and are trying to authenticate between these two. It is an XML-based language that is very useful for the type of security assertions we are describing.

The SSO and SAML connection

You may regard SSO as an outdated technology, although many companies still use it. Most business entities will start with an SSO process, but they won’t end with it.

Adding SAML is what makes the authentication process much more secure. Without it, a company using SSO alone would likely have legitimate security concerns in 2021.

SAML does not send passwords over the web every time one of your employees logs in. Instead, use as IT professionals would call secure tokens. This reduces security risks almost exponentially.

It is reasonable to say that a passwordless future is in the cards. Instead, companies will likely only use systems such as SAML that guarantee near-secure logins.

How important is SSO?

Using the SSO and SAML combination is important to the overall health of your business, and we can’t stress that enough. They are there to reduce cyber attacks, many of which hackers perpetrate against networks with weak passwords and a few other security protocols in place.

Using SSO and SAML is one way some businesses can keep track of passwords and accounts that they might otherwise forget. Breaches can often occur if a single repeated password leaks. Combining SSO and SAML can protect your business much better than SSO alone.

SSO and SAML test

Another thing to understand, though, is that you can’t just install an SSO and SAML protocol and then hope for the best. You have to regularly and systematically test the system you have in place to make sure it is as impenetrable as you think it is.

Here is where some apps or services come into play. There is great news, though, especially for the thrifty entrepreneur: some are free.

With SSO, you are trying to test and monitor three different features. The first is the web app or service provider. The second is the individual who is trying to log in. The third is the Identity Provider, sometimes abbreviated as IdP.

You can test all three quite neatly with SAML Test Service Provider. You can google it and see what it is, or you can have your IT department do it.

How does the test work?

If you use the SAML Test Service Provider tool, you can definitely speed up your SSO measures. You should start using the IdP initiated method function. It will also provide you with SAML metadata during the test, which you can study at your leisure.

This metadata describes what is happening within your network as the test system probes it. Your IdP system will have a generic SAML connector. This is what this free system will use to merge for the sake of testing.

The SAML test tool should blend seamlessly with the IdP you are using. You can also customize the look of the SAML test tool and search somehow if you find it useful.

The system will create a unique URL

The test system will then create a unique URL to deposit the data in real time as the test continues. You can go there to review the metadata, many of which your IT department can later use for various purposes.

The URL will be mapped to the IdP. This is a way to retrieve some in-depth numbers regarding the authentication and identity management system you have in place. You should be able to find out how it works and if you need to change anything in the future.

you may have to repeat this metadata import process during the test. The most crucial part of this whole process will be having your IdP on hand so that you can test at your own speed.

The test can host quick feedback from scanning large areas of your network, or you can slow it down for a deeper scrutiny if that makes more sense to you.

You can do this test for free with two goals in mind: you can do it thinking that you won’t find any security flaws because your network seems to be working perfectly. The alternative is that you will find some areas that need a patch because you don’t feel your security is up to par.

Either way, using SSO, SAML, and a free network test tool couldn’t be more critical. It is this combination that will allow you to establish much better security than you currently have if you have outdated or inefficient measures.

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