Why Single Sign-On is the best shot at curing password problems

Passwords are supposed to be our little secrets. Secrets so little yet so powerful. But they can be secret only when the resources they are required to be used to access are exclusive to you. But in some cases, a particular network resource has to be accessed by a set of people which then requires passwords to be shared in the group. Yes, some tools or resources do allow for access through an already authenticated identity but, more than often not, such a luxury is not available.

Just a string of alphanumerics, passwords hold great strength and stature in the automated world. We are so entangled in the Web that daily work and chores requires access to multiple online resources and tools like social media profiles, email accounts, bank accounts, work tools and resources, online entertainment subscriptions, apps and the list just goes depending on how tech savvy you are. Not being tech savvy is no longer an option for anyone considering the benefits the Web offers at the customer level. But with so many accounts to handle, remembering passwords for each is a cumbersome task, in fact, an almost impossible one. Sure, the world is trying to solve these problems. Single Sign-On is one such massively useful, now becoming imperative, solution that addresses the problem of having to remember multiple passwords resulting in extremely high number of forgotten password requests. Sure there is the idea of federated identity management but it requires businesses to forge trust relationships among each other and businesses probably are wary of doing that. Single Sign-On and Federated Identity are the best shots the world’s tech geniuses had at solving these issues yet.

But even then, people have so many more passwords to remember and, in the other way round, multiple people are required to access the same resource making sharing of passwords the only alternative. Password sharing is considered a risky practice because it exposes passwords to be susceptible to attacks from identity thieves. Interestingly, it is not just compulsion but also a practice of password sharing among people. A research recently found that 23 per cent of desk based workers in the US and UK share their passwords with one or more colleagues. The study also found that some teenagers see password sharing as a sign of affection and trust. But the stark reality is that password sharing has become a very common practice at work and home. From a business standpoint, this could even be a profitable practice as suggested by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

Whether sharing passwords, with regard to its necessity, is a healthy practice is another debate altogether but it is prudent to recognize that sharing is a common practice. It seems it will be a long time before a viable solution to the multiple problems posed by passwords is found but till then Single Sign-On is the best alternative at reducing password remembrance and sharing.


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