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Identity and Authentication Services

Symantec O3: Single Sign-on for Safe Clouds Adoption

Created: 02 Nov 2012 • Updated: 05 Nov 2012
Marty Jost's picture
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Enterprise Cloud adoption continues to accelerate. It’s no longer a question whether the Cloud will gain acceptance but how quickly and broadly it will spread. The cost advantages that Software as a Service (SaaS) delivers make it widely attractive as enterprises adopt cloud services to reduce their network and infrastructure costs.

However, with the advantages that cloud computing brings, come new challenges around authentication and access control. For example, many organizations are discovering a growing friction between authentication security and usability across their multiple cloud applications. The root cause of the problem is that for most organizations the vendor for each cloud application is often a different company. Perhaps it’s ADP for payroll, for CRM, Concur for Expense Management, and so on.

It’s all too common for each of these applications to have different security or log in policies, such as the required length of the password, the password’s character composition, and the length of time before the password expires. With all these different rules, users are unable to manage, much less remember all their log in user names and passwords.

Of course, relaxing the rules is not a good option. The rules are important to help safeguard against weak passwords. So a balance between usability and security must be found. Failure to find this balance can put cloud initiatives at risk; user productivity suffers and help desk costs increase. Plus, security is potentially compromised by frustrated users resorting to unsafe behaviors such as using the same weak password for all their applications or creating password cheat sheets.

Along with strong passwords management enterprises should consider implementing single sign-on technology for cloud applications access. A single sign-on approach requires users to remember only one strong password while rigorous security is in place. As one of the first innovations to market, Symantec O3 does just that. It’s a cloud-based authentication gateway and control access point to different cloud applications. The O3 solution allows users to login via their single password which automatically logs in to their cloud applications. Think of it as a protective cloud wrapper above and around many clouds for organizations to protect and control their business information and people.

Symantec O3:  A New Security Layer Above the Cloud

The O3 approach minimizes the complex integration that is required to adapt applications for single sign-on via traditional agent or toolkit approaches. O3 uses standards such as Web Forms or Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) to interface with the applications. Through these methods, O3 also provides the additional security of eliminating side-door access to the cloud if the applications are configured to only accept logins from the O3 IP address.

O3 provides an additional security benefit when it becomes the Single Sign-on access point to the cloud. The IT department can also establish access control policies for the cloud apps which leverages their existing Identity and Access Management systems. In this way, O3 helps IT retain oversight of security even as the applications migrate out of their data center.