Passwords in Peril

Single Sign-On technology can increase business efficiency

There have been times over the past few years where stories of data breaches, unauthorized access and the theft of intellectual property were appearing on what seemed like a daily basis. Some of these incidents even garnered front-page status in national newspapers. What organizations have learned is that they need to have more stringent control over their enterprise — specifically its assets, company data and employee access to both.

Businesses today need to have policies and solutions in place that enable employees to securely access what they need when they need it. In doing so, they can ensure the protection of their business from the myriad of looming threats — including those from within their own organization.

The Password Management Challenge

The challenge is that password management has without question become one of the most problematic security issues that companies face today, and as the number of business applications grow, so do the number of passwords. Now add to that the fact that the complexity of these passwords is also increasing and what businesses are left with are challenges:

• Many users are leaving passwords open to the public in the form of sticky notes, which leaves their access rights available to expose sensitive information; and
• Employees seeking password resets are flooding their help desk with costly requests.

With employees being asked to recall more and more complex passwords, remembering each has become increasingly difficult. In the end, employees lacking the correct password get locked out of the very applications they need to perform their job. The first impact is an initial drop in productivity, soon followed by a growing sense of aggravation on the part of the employee. It is at this juncture that the employee calls the IT help desk for assistance in getting their password reset.

A single call for help may not seem like a mounting issue until you take into account the following: According to Forrester Research, more than 30 percent of all help desk costs are password-related — a fact which shows that this single call is just one of many others.

The reality is that the cost of password problems can snowball, and it quickly turns into an issue that can cost businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. This help desk statistic still does not include the cost of lost productivity that results from employees being locked out of applications or the potential security issues the business may face when employees decide to jot their passwords down on sticky notes, which can fall into the hands of anyone with bad intensions.

Single Sign-On

The answer to the password management issue is single sign-on (SSO). The right SSO solution delivers businesses of all of sizes and industries — including healthcare, financial services, government and others — a smart and affordable way to strengthen IT security while improving employee productivity. SSO simplifies the password management problem by requiring each employee to remember only one primary credential to gain access to their authorized desktop, network and applications. This credential can be a user name and password. It can also be a strong authentication method such as finger biometrics, which eliminate the need to recall a password altogether. What this means is that each person’s network identity will have all the relevant application credentials linked to it and authentication will be managed automatically by the SSO system. What this translates to for the employees is that they are spending less time logging in and out of their applications and more time on pressing matters that are vital to the businesses’ success.

In the healthcare industry, SSO solutions eliminate the need to constantly type in logon passwords, and, in turn, give staff more time to focus on addressing patient needs. SSO has enabled Fairfield Medical Center in central Ohio to immediately reduce help desk costs by dropping the number of inbound calls by more than 50 percent — a number which continues grow.

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