The importance of SSO for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)

 Let me ask you a question.

 How many employees does your company have?

No matter how you answered, it's a good thing you're here! All businesses, regardless of size, need to implement single sign-on (SSO) and an effective identity and access management (IAM) system. In this blog, we'll teach you to identify the right security solution for your business.

 SSO is an authentication tool that empowers users to access various applications with one set of secure login credentials. That means your employees can use their company credentials to access all the necessary apps for your business.

 It's a common misconception that small businesses don't require a dedicated IAM system. Smaller companies often assume they don't have the same security risks as bigger players, which have more money and more data at stake. But smaller businesses face their own set of significant risks.

 Three in four (or 74% of) SMBs in India suffered a cyber incident in 2021, resulting in 85% losing customer information to malicious actors and experiencing a tangible impact on business, according to a study by Cisco.


Why are small and medium-sized businesses the ideal target?

 As a small business grows, teams proliferate. So does their app usage. That's all well and good, but increased app usage creates more security vulnerabilities. Weak passwords, poorly maintained access management, and unauthenticated login processes are a few causes of these vulnerabilities, often leading to financial and reputational damage. SMBs often experience limitations in resources, time, and capital, which can complicate the security process even more. Having a separate team for app and identity management is often seen as a luxury more than a necessity. But going digital without stringent, end-to-end protection in place is highly risky.

 SMBs face additional threats from "bring your own device" policies. When employees connect their own devices to the business network, the company has neither assurance nor control over how secure the device is.


What can happen to businesses during a security breach?

 When an attack occurs, stolen data may be held for hefty ransoms or sold on the dark net. Sometimes, hackers partake in doxing and release private and sensitive information about an organization or a famous person. Business plan leaks and premature product leaks, especially in the tech industry, can lead to a failed product launch. Moreover, recovery from a cyberattack requires all systems to be rebuilt from scratch. As a result of all the reputational and financial damage, downtime, and revenue loss, many small businesses fail after a breach.

 A few habits that help prevent attacks are to use stronger passwords and change them regularly, monitor who has access to which data, and enable alerts about suspicious app activity. The good news is that SSO can do all this for you. Plus, you can couple it with tools like multi-factor authentication (MFA) for stronger security.

Click here to implement SSO for your business


Reasons why your SMB needs single sign-on

1. Heightens security

 The primary purpose of single sign-on is to provide better security for your business.

A Google survey found that at least 65% of people reuse passwords across multiple, if not all, sites. This is often to avoid having to memorize several different passwords.

SSO provides the option to use one strong login credential for all apps. This makes life much easier for a user who accesses several personal and official apps every day. SSO can also be coupled with stronger authentication tools like MFA and security policies to better protect your organization.

 2. Provides a better workplace experience

In small and growing businesses, an employee might have to wear many hats.

Apps make this easier. On average, 27% of small businesses use an average of five apps per day. This number grows as the business grows.

 SSO reduces the probability of breaches that can happen due to weak and recycled passwords. This way, employees can smoothly switch between more apps with fewer security issues. All they need is their work credentials to access all their business apps.

Once your employees authenticate themselves with the identity provider, it will securely authenticate them for every other service provider (applications).

Another benefit of using one credential is that it can reduce IT burdens and expenses. Gartner Group says 20%-50% of IT help desk calls are for password resets. Since employees use fewer passwords with SSO, they are less likely to require this assistance.

 For employees who are already working hard to make a business boom, SSO can relieve an unnecessary burden.

 3.  Prevents financial damage

 According to IBM and the Ponemon Institute’s 2021 Cost of a Data Breach report, for small organizations (fewer than 500 employees), the average cost of a data breach increased from $2.35 million to $2.98 million between 2020 and 2021.

  Without proper protections in place, SMBs can be easy money for hackers. They hold significant data and are often lenient with their security policies. According to a report by Cisco, "more than one in two SMBs in Asia Pacific have suffered a cyber incident in the past year."   

 And 81% of data breaches are due to compromised passwords, according to Verizon's 2021 DBIR report. By reducing the chances of a password breach, SSO provides SMBs with essential protection.

 4. Saves time for your business

 From saving the time your employees spend typing out or resetting passwords, to eliminating downtime due to breaches, SSO helps you create a more productive and efficient work environment.

 Generally, how quickly you detect a breach determines how much damage you suffer. Unfortunately, only 47% of SMBs find breaches within a matter of days. Post-discovery, as stated by Cisco’s 2020 Benchmark Report, 46% of SMBs had 5-16 hours of breach-related downtime. That's a lot of time when you consider that even less than one hour of downtime will result in operational disruption and impact revenue.


What should small organizations look for in an SSO solution?

If you're thinking of implementing SSO, here are some features you should look for:

1. Scalability

 Scalability is a crucial criterion when it comes to any business app. When you are looking for a SSO solution, aim to find software with features that can back your organization across its growth and allow you to increase or decrease subscriptions when needed.

 It's also wise to look for a “pay as you go” option. As a small business, you should not have to commit to any software before you have time to make sure it's the right fit.

2. Extensive catalog of apps

 Your identity provider should be able to integrate with a wide variety of service providers from different vendors.

 Having an extensive catalogue means you have the option to integrate your SSO with many apps. This is great for small businesses, as they are more likely to experiment with and consider a wide variety of new apps. If your SSO provider supports all the apps you'll ever need, it'll be easier to switch and adapt to new software without having to look for a new SSO application. 

 3. Mobile application

 If you work remotely or if you move around a lot for your job, a desktop version of your SSO software won't be very useful. No matter where you are or what you're doing, an SSO mobile app helps you stay secure. It greatly improves the mobility of your business, while keeping your identity security intact.

4. Easy-to-use, intuitive application

 One of the main goals of an identity provider is to reduce IT pressure.

If your SSO software is clunky and requires extra effort for daily use, it doesn't serve its purpose. A few things SMBs should look for are ease of use, ease of setup, and ease of maintenance.

Choose an SSO provider that has intuitive UI, easy navigation, well-written help guides, and a responsive support team.

5. Caters to SMB needs

 While the market is overflowing with SSO solutions, most of them cater to enterprise companies. They can be great solutions, but still overlook the nuances in features that a small business would need. An easy-to-implement solution that fits your unique business needs is a necessity.

 The real value of an application lies in how well it helps you solve your day-to-day problems. Instead of going for an option based on price or popularity and later realizing you've wasted money and time, consider the features offered and how well they suit your business. Software that meets and adapts to your requirements will usually save you money in the long run.

We all know the phrase "prevention is better than cure." It's especially true when it comes to business security. Educating yourself about what can go wrong and having a contingency plan will save you time, money, and stress.


Single sign-on is a great start to protecting your business identity. If you'd like to learn more about how SSO works and why companies need it, you can check out our blog post here.





  1. Cybersecurity for SMBs: Asia Pacific Businesses Prepare for Digital Defense  

  2. Online Security Survey Google / Harris Poll

  3. Salesforce's second annual small & medium business trends report

  4. Gartner Research  - Automated Password Reset Can Cut IT Service Desk Costs

  5. IBM and the Ponemon Institute’s 2021 Cost of a Data Breach report

  6. Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report

  7. Cisco 2020 CISO Benchmark Report  


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