I’m happy my guest, Kalen Smith, decided to share his research and thoughts on SSO today. Thank you!
About the author: Kalen Smith is a passionate technology entrepreneur and internet marketer. He founded Offsite Optimizer in 2011 with his college friend Devin Thayer. He now manages the website Design Tickle where he shares trends in the technology landscape.
Many people are turned off even by the negligible amount of time it takes to access different accounts. Developers have recognized this need and responded by creating single sign-on tools (SSO). SSO is available for many different types of applications, but is probably most commonly used with social media accounts.
Single Social Login: History and Current Landscape
Single social login was first developed in 2006 when Blaine Cook created Twitter OpenID. The idea caught on pretty quickly and other developers created Disqus, Hootsuite, OneLogin and other single social login applications.
Single login has become more popular among both users and website managers. A study from eMarketer found that the number of users interested in using it increased by nearly 80% in 2011. It appears to have become even more popular in recent years. However, there are both benefits and drawbacks to using social login. Here are some things that both website managers and internet users should be aware of.
Advantages of SSO
There are a number of reasons that single social login has become popular. Here are some that you may want to consider.
Avoid Password Overload
Secure passwords can be very difficult to remember. One study from Janrain found that 40% of customers have to request a new password every month because they have trouble keeping track of them all. Fortunately, using single sign-on reduces the number of passwords you need to keep track of. Fewer people are suffering from password fatigue after using single social login.
Website owners have found that users are prone to leave a site if they need to jump through a lot of hoops to create an account and login to it. Fortunately, SSO tools such as Disqus make it much easier. This is a huge win for marketers as well, because it means the customer is much more likely to complete the login process. This means that they are also a lot more likely to convert.
Customers are reluctant to share a lot of personal details over the Internet. They are much more likely to sign-in with an authentication provider that they already know.
Data Backed Up
Most SSO services store their data on the cloud. This significantly reduces the risk of data loss.
Disadvantages of SSO
While single social login is a great technology, there are also a number of drawbacks you need to be aware of. Some downsides are listed below.
One of the biggest concerns with SSO is that it could leave users vulnerable to hackers. Anyone who gets the person’s password will have access to multiple accounts.
You also have to be wary of potential security flaws with the SSO platforms that you are using. Disqus recently revealed that some investigative journalists were able to exploit a feature in the platform and access a number of user’s email addresses. The commenters were recently called out on some offensive comments that they made. This has created some concerns about the security of Disqus and other single login providers.
Many commenters are worried about their privacy. They are even more concerned about their privacy after Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA. They’ve also been concerned about Google and social media sites exploiting their information. Google recently announced it will be collecting information on all of its customers and storing them in a massive database. Many customers are seriously concerned that Google will start using the data for marketing purposes.
Single login services are tied to social media accounts and personal emails, which means that they may not offer as much privacy as people would like. People also can’t try to protect their privacy by using Tor, because SSO providers won’t allow comments to be submitted through an encrypted connection.
Increased Vulnerability to Service Problems
SSO users are also extremely reliant on problems that may arise with the single login provider. They will lose access to every site that uses the service if the service goes down.
Limited to Specific Devices
Some SSO services only work with specific devices and browsers. Users on some mobile devices may not be able to access them. Disqus wasn’t available on mobile devices for the first three years and is still not available on all devices and browsers.
More Difficult for Multiple Users
SSO was designed to make life easier for the user. However, it can create problems if multiple people are using the same machine. Some people have accidentally commented on platforms with someone else’s account because they forgot to log out. Each user needs to make sure that they protect their privacy by logging out.
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