Single Sign On vs Multi-Factor Authentication: Which Is Better?

Single Sign On or MFA for your security? Your choice

by Loredana Harsana
Loredana Harsana
Loredana Harsana
Managing Editor
Loredana is a passionate writer with a keen interest in PC software and technology. She started off writing about mobile phones back when Samsung Galaxy S II was... read more
Reviewed by Alex Serban
Alex Serban
Alex Serban
Windows Server & Networking Expert
After moving away from the corporate work-style, Alex has found rewards in a lifestyle of constant analysis, team coordination and pestering his colleagues. Holding an MCSA Windows Server... read more
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  • Single sign-on (SSO) is a way to log into multiple services using a single set of credentials.
  • It can be very convenient for users, but it's also useful for IT administrators because it allows them to manage all of their users' authentication needs from a central location.
  • But, is SSO really superior to MFA? Read on to find out.
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Single Sign On (SSO) is a convenient way to log in to multiple applications and websites with a single user ID and password. In contrast, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) requires users to provide additional verification to prove their identity.

Most people are familiar with and have even set up their PCs with multi-factor authentication in Windows 11. In this article, we will compare Single Sign On vs Multi-Factor Authentication. We shall also discuss some of the most prominent solutions used in the market today.

Is there a difference between MFA and 2FA?

Multifactor authentication (MFA) and two-factor authentication (2FA) are two different approaches to the same goal: adding an extra layer of security to your accounts.

It’s common for people to use the terms interchangeably, or even incorrectly. But there is a difference between MFA and 2FA. 2FA is short for two-factor authentication, which is a type of MFA.

MFA makes it more difficult for unauthorized users to access your account by requiring a second authentication factor before they can log in. A second factor is usually something you know (like a password), but it can also be something you have (like a phone). 

With MFA, the second factor must be provided every time you sign in or perform any actions on your account. This means that if someone tries to log in using just their email address and password, they won’t be able to do so unless they have access to your mobile device.

What is the main advantage of Single Sign On?

1. Ease of use

Users can log in once with their credentials and then access all other applications that are part of the SSO system. This makes it easier for them because they don’t have to remember multiple sets of login credentials and passwords for different applications. 

Also, when doing so, they will not have to deal with additional password prompts or any other issues that may occur due to using different passwords for each application or service.

The administrator can also benefit from a unified user interface when managing these accounts because they all share the same login page and interface, making it easier for them.

2. More secure authentication

SSO can greatly reduce security risks by reducing the number of credentials that attackers would need in order to gain unauthorized access.

By eliminating the need for each application to maintain its own authentication system, you can reduce the risk of sharing credentials across multiple systems or having your user database compromised by hackers who steal information from one site and use it on another site as well.

3. Reduces costs

Single sign-on (SSO) is a technology that allows users to authenticate themselves to multiple applications with a single set of credentials. It reduces IT support costs because there is only one password standard that needs to be enforced across all applications.

With SSO, users can access multiple applications without having to log in for each one separately. IT can also enforce stronger password policies since they do not have to manage multiple sets of rules for various applications or databases.

4. Centralized management

Because there are fewer components to manage, it’s easier to keep up with updates as they become available. A single set of user profile information can be used by all applications. This means that IT doesn’t have to create new accounts for users in individual systems.

Additionally, if one component fails, it doesn’t necessarily affect other components. This is because they’re not interconnected as they would be in a multi-component solution.

5. Increase productivity

SSO is essential for some business functions, such as human resources (HR) applications, that require employees to access multiple systems throughout the day. 

With single sign-on, users don’t have to enter their username and password before logging into each application separately.

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This makes it easier for them to complete their tasks in less time and with greater efficiency. If you’re looking for ways to increase productivity in your organization, SSO is the way to go.

What are the best Active Directory tools with MFA and SSO integration?

While Active Directory is the heart of your organization’s infrastructure, it can be difficult to manage. There are many tools that can help you with management, but many of them don’t integrate with multi-factor authentication (MFA).

There are many ways to manage Active Directory while keeping it secure, including using MFA (multi-factor authentication) to protect your users.

ADManager Plus – Feature-rich AD tool

ADManager Plus is a user-friendly and feature-rich administration and reporting tool for Active Directory. It allows you to easily manage your Active Directory environment, including but not limited to user accounts, groups, computers, and distribution groups.

The software comes with built-in support for multi-factor authentication (MFA). It can be used in conjunction with other apps to provide secure access to your network resources by requiring users to authenticate through an additional means after they have entered their credentials.

Other features include:

  • Simplified AD management activities
  • Bulk computer management
  • Audit management

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ADSelfService Plus – Flexible AD tool

ADSelfService Plus allows you to configure different security policies and access levels for different types of users in your company. For example, you can give some users the ability to reset their own passwords while others will not have this right at all.

ADSelfService Plus also supports multi-factor authentication (MFA) and single sign-on (SSO). If you’re looking for an AD solution with the best of both worlds, this here is the perfect fit for you.

Other features include:

  • Multiple layers of authentication
  • One-click sign-on to integrated apps
  • Self-service audit reports for password changes

ADSelfService Plus

Sign on once or enable MFA for multiple applications with a tool that offers the perfect SSO and MFA for Active Directory.

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ADAudit Plus – Comprehensive AD tool

ADAudit Plus is a cloud-based tool that allows you to monitor and manage all of your Active Directory users, groups, and computers. It also has the ability to monitor for changes in policies and configurations.

Although you can enable SSO in ADAudit Plus, you have to do it through a third-party access management service such as OneLogin or Okta.

You can use it to identify users whose accounts are configured in a way that makes them vulnerable to phishing attacks.

Other features include:

  • Integration with third-party tools
  • Fulfils most compliance standards
  • Comprehensive search feature

ADAudit Plus

Ensure security and compliance in your network with the best Active Directory auditing tool.

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Do I need MFA if I have SSO?

If you have SSO, then you don’t need MFA. This is because when you log in, you are already authenticated before you enter your password. However, the big question is whether SSO is more secure than MFA. While SSO may be ideal in a number of situations, it is not perfect.

In some cases, it’s not a good fit as it raises some security concerns with SSO. For example, if someone breaks into a company server, they can get all the user credentials. Once they access all the different servers, they become compromised.

If you want to ensure that no one can get access to your account if they steal your password, then you should enable multi-factor authentication (MFA). Further, some reliable password managers will also come in handy if you don’t want to burden yourself with remembering all your passwords.

We have also outlined best practices for your Active Directory account to help you set it up if you’re a beginner.

If you’ve experienced either SSO or MFA on your AD, we’d love to hear your input and which one you prefer between the two. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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