Federated Authentication Solutions for Businesses

Federated Authentication Solutions for Businesses - Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash


A federated identity is how a person’s electronic identity and attributes are linked and stored across many distinct identity management systems. A good example is single sign-on (SSO) where a user’s one authentication token or ticket is trusted across different IT systems or organisations. SSO relates to authentication and is only understood on the technical interoperability level. It is not possible without some federation.

The old system relies on the synchronisation of identity data like passwords in order to grant access. This approach comes with complexities, as well as introducing security threats. Introducing federation authentication will help avoid such issues since you swiftly integrate applications in your organisation or even in the cloud.

To solve the security problem, most organisations are implementing an authentication mechanism that uses federated identity. Here, they separate user authentication from the application code and delegate it to a trusted identity provider (IdP). Users are, therefore, able to authenticate via a wide range of IdPs, thus minimising administrative overhead.

The trusted identity providers include corporate directories, on-premise federation services, security token services issued by business partners, and social identity providers.

Federated authentication offers a standard-based solution to counter the issues of trusting identities across many domains and also supports single sign-on. This method is becoming popular across different applications like cloud-hosted applications due to the fact that it supports single sign-on without the need for a direct network connection to IdPs. Users are not required to enter their credentials for every application. This enhances security since it prevents the creation of credentials needed to access multiple applications. Also, the user’s credentials are kept secret from all apart from the original IdP. What the applications see is simply the authenticated identity information that is within the token.

OpenID


This is an open standard and decentralisation authentication protocol. The technology allows the users to get authenticated by co-operating sites referred to as Relying Parties (RP) through a third party service. This does away with the need for webmasters and allows users to log in different unrelated websites without the need for separate passwords and identities for each.

Users get to create accounts by choosing an OpenID IdP and then use the accounts to sign onto any website that authorises OpenID authentication. Many big organisations either give or accept OpenID on their websites as per the OpenID Foundation.

The OpenID protocol doesn’t rely on a specific authority in to authenticate a user’s identity. Also, services and OpenID standard don’t mandate any specific means of authenticating users, which allows for approaches that range from the basic to novel.

Benefits of Federated Authentication Solutions


There are numerous benefits of federated authentication, and they include:
  • User Experience
With a single sign-on experience, users can switch between applications they have been authorised to access easily.
  • Compliance
This method ensures your organisation is compliant with industry standards and your own policies too.
  • Security
This method avoids synchronisation and transmission of sensitive information like passwords and any other personal data. You can easily revoke access a central location.
  • Efficiency
It integrates applications and services, thus avoiding any complexity legacy non-standard approaches.