Cloud Access Management
As the utilization of cloud applications has become a standard of using in nearly every industry, there needs to be solutions available to help manage these applications. One way for admins to effectively manage their organization’s applications is to use an automated account management solution for both in house and cloud applications. This ensures ease of provisioning, making changes and de-provisioning user accounts, while also ensuring security by ensuring correct access rights.
While this ensures ease of use for account admins, what about for the end users? They also need a way to easily manage, and access, their cloud applications. Think about a user who has numerous applications they use on a daily basis. They need to open a new page for each application and then sign in. In today’s work environment, in virtually every industry, employees frequently access work applications outside of the company network. While this might not be so much an inconvenience in the office regularly, for those who are working on the go it can be extremely annoying. Solutions are available to allow users to easily manage and access their applications from any location.
How does it work?
A web-based single sign-on (SSO) solution is one method ends users can to easily handle cloud applications. Users can easily access a portal where all applications they can access are available. They simply provide a single set of credentials for authentication and can then access any of their applications by simply clicking on the icon. This allows them to easily access their applications from anywhere that they are working, whether inside or outside of the company’s network from one place.
This is extremely convenient for users who are using mobile devices. Think of an employee who is quickly trying to gain access on their smartphone or tablet. To open each application in a new tab and enter credentials is an extremely time consuming process. Many vendors offer the ability for users to download an app on their device and the app will prompt the user to enter a single set of credentials to get to the portal where they can access their applications. For users who are on the go and use tablets or smartphones this can be a tremendous help. They can access what they need, from anywhere, at any time, without having to be inconvenienced.
A cloud SSO solution is helpful in many different types of organizations. For example, in education, students complete a large majority of their work outside of the school’s network and often use many mobile devices. In the healthcare industry, clinicians will be going room to room visiting patients. Sometimes caregivers are logging into terminals, other times they may use a tablet and need to quickly access the applications and systems they need. For a sales associate for a large organization, they may be meeting customers at their office or other locations and need to access customer information. Many industries nowadays have employees who are not working from one single computer and need quick convenient access.
How Can This Actually Enhance Security?
A major concern of every organization when implementing any type of solution is also security. While yes, they want their employees to be more productive and be able to more easily perform task and access resources they need, they don’t want this to interfere with the security of their network.
The first big concern people always have with SSO solutions is that they are nervous that it leaves the network unsecure, as users only use one set of credentials. Think, though, about the user who has several sets of complex credential for the multitude of applications that they need. Chances are that they write them down or save them in their phones to remember these passwords. It is actually more secure to have a single set of credentials that the user does not need to write down since they can easily remember them.
If security is a top priority, this type of solution can be customized to ensure additional levels of security measures. In some industries certain employees handle highly sensitive information so security is the utmost concern. For example, for an employee working in the financial department handling company or customer finances, it is very important to add additional security methods while it may not be as important to ensure security for applications that an intern uses. Depending on the level of security needed there can be different methods of authentication required.
For the user working in the financial department, the solution can be set up so that it can be required that they enter their credentials and then have to provide a second form of identification. This can be some a one time use PIN, access card or maybe a biometric method such as a fingerprint or face scan.
Cloud SSO solutions can also be customized to meet the needs of the many different groups and positions which many organizations have. For example, it is obvious that certain departments within the organization use different applications than others. The organization can easily add and delete applications for each group. They can also break down groups differently depending on their organizational needs. Different levels of employees within a department will probably need different access to systems and applications. The company can easily develop groups so that each employee only has the applications in their portal that they need.
Cloud single sign-on solutions allow employees to easily see which applications they have, and access them with a single click and one set of credentials. This improves efficiency and productivity while also keeping the organization happy by ensuring security.
By Dean Wiech
Dean Wiech is managing director at Tools4ever US. Tools4ever supplies a variety of software products and integrated consultancy services involving identity management, such as user provisioning, role-based access control, password management, single sign on and access management solutions.