Understanding the Benefits of SAML

Learn how Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) works for your company, from efficient authentication to enhanced productivity

An Identity Management Knowledge Gap

When it comes to identity and access management (IAM), many organizations are aware of Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) protocols. However, information security solutions and network-based authentication protocols like Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) can still be confusing.

As more companies start using cloud-based services, they will need to understand SAML to ensure the most efficient and secure processes.

What is SAML?

Security Protocol


SAML is a protocol – used by IT – which authenticates web applications to provide secure and simple access to employees.

SAML 2.0 is the latest version and is an XML-based protocol. This version relies on security tokens that have assertions and can transfer information about a principal (like an end user) between a SAML authority – known as an Identity Provider – and a SAML consumer, which is referred to as a Service Provider.

A SAML assertion provides a user’s identity and is followed by a SAML response and authentication. These verify the identity prior to granting access to an application.

With SAML, businesses have a secure method for confirming user identity while providing access to key applications with single sign-on (SSO).

Benefits for IT


For IT, it is much easier to manage one login per user than to handle separate logins for every web application a user requires. SAML can provide one login across web services, including:

  • Email
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software
  • Active Directory
  • Other software or apps used

SAML allows apps and organizations to communicate in a collaborative method that facilitates trust in each other’s users. Examples of user-access apps that benefit from easier access include GoToWebinar, GitHub, and Salesforce.

Authenticator


SAML offers a process for user authentication in connection with third-party web apps and SaaS software. SAML is the connector between the process of authenticating a user’s identity and authorizing that end user for access to use a service.

A SAML Assertion will produce a message that asserts a user’s identity or other credentials. It is then followed by a SAML response and SAML authentication.

SAML vs. OAuth


Both SAML and OAuth protocols can be utilized to secure user access via single sign-on (SSO). Businesses utilize these protocols to reduce the number of passwords their employees need to manage as well as to gain insight into the applications their end users are utilizing.

The main difference between these two protocols is that SAML places authentication on the user while OAuth provides authorization with specific applications. Businesses can use these protocols independently or in conjunction together.

SAML makes SSO possible

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Company Benefit

You can configure SSO to work with SAML supported tools, like applications, XML documents, and APIs.

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End User Benefit

Log in to work-related apps from the same login screen, all with one password, to seamlessly access the resources they need.

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Manage Fewer Passwords

SSO solutions leaves password memorization in the past, all without exposing credentials to any software or apps.

Enforce Security Standards While Delivering Ease of Use


  • The LastPass SSO solution leverages SAML 2.0 to provide the best performance in endpoint security solution for a wide range of businesses. Because of its functionality, versatility, reliability, and scalability, SAML is an ideal option for service providers and identity providers.
  • Moreover, LastPass provides a true SSO experience for end users, allowing users to access key apps without having to enter a unique password, thus delivering a more efficient authentication flow and enhanced productivity to your business.

To learn more about how LastPass uses SAML to improve access while maintaining high security, contact us today.


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