Single Sign-On for Windows Applications

Why Use Single Sign-On? Unfortunately, passwords are static, don’t get changed often enough, and are often reused (59% of users use the same or similar passwords in multiple resources).

Published on:
Sep 12, 2023
Last updated on:
May 31, 2023
Table of contents

What is Single Sign-On?

Single Sign-On (SSO) is a user authentication tool that allows users to log in to and access multiple applications, websites, data, and workstations using just one centrally managed set of credentials — a username and password. Organizations use SSO to manage identity access, improve data security and policy compliance, and enhance the user experience. Without SSO, authentication is performed individually by each website or application, with each entity having its own set of credentials that must be managed by the user or IT.

Why Use Single Sign-On?

Unfortunately, passwords are static, don’t get changed often enough, and are often reused (59% of users use the same or similar passwords in multiple resources). Ironically, even though passwords are often reused, Gartner estimates that 30 to 50% of all helpdesk calls are for password resets. Relying on passwords for user authentication exposes organizations to undue risk and increases helpdesk costs.

As a result, many organizations have adopted SSO to remove the need for passwords to gain access to applications. Identity providers (IdPs) like Okta™, OneLogin®, PingIdentity®, and others will use protocols like Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) or the more modern OpenID® Connect (OIDC) to implement SSO. These protocols set up a trust between the organization’s IdP and integrated applications, whereby users are sent to those applications with a unique access token generated by the IdP that will grant access. SSO removes passwords, makes access credentials invisible to the user, and eliminates the ability for credentials to be compromised.

Using an identity provider for SSO has several usability advantages as well. With SSO, a user typically logs into his IdP once each day with one set of credentials and is presented a portal webpage listing the applications available to him. A simple click on an application within the organization’s IdP portal page allows him to open the application with his trusted token.

Eliminating application logons makes everyone happier. Users can access all their corporate applications with one logon. IT can more easily audit and manage users, for example, provisioning and deprovisioning user resource access. Security teams can define and enforce security policy and maintain regulatory compliance. IT deals with fewer helpdesk calls to reset passwords, especially since many SSO solutions allow users to reset their passwords themselves.

Single Sign-On has made moving to the cloud significantly easier for organizations because it centralizes secure identity access and, by default, centralizes each user’s web application access.

The Single Sign-On Challenge

There are many times, though, that an organization requires users to use Windows®—not web-based—applications. And, unfortunately, SSO has historically only been available to provide secure access to web applications. Authentication events within Windows OS occur through Winlogon, the Windows authentication module that performs interactive logons for a session—where a user logs directly onto the operating system with a username and a password.

Because Windows requires a username and password to log on, IT cannot include Windows applications in cloud implementations using SSO without a customized Credential Provider. Windows applications installed on remote workstations accessed through Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) have the same limitations.

GO-Global Enables Single Sign-On for Windows Applications

GO-Global’s support for OpenID Connect allows organizations to use modern identity providers like Okta, OneLogin, Microsoft Active Directory Federated Services (ADFS), and Microsoft® Azure® AD Seamless SSO for single sign-on into GO-Global Windows hosts. By enabling users to sign in one time to their identity provider, with the authentication policies and credentials defined there, users can access Windows applications published by GO-Global with the click of a button, providing a better user experience while enforcing the user authentication the organization wants.

GO-Global allows organizations to integrate any IdP that supports OpenID Connect directly into its hosts, allowing them to share windows hosts among users that they authenticate with their IdP solution. GO-Global support for OpenID Connect eliminates the need for domain controllers in the network, for custom credential providers for strong authentication, and for interactive logons.

Organizations that were previously looking for this type of functionality would have to purchase expensive, complex, and unwieldy solutions like Citrix® NetScaler® Unified Gateway integrated with Citrix Hypervisor®. GO-Global enables support for single sign-on into Windows applications at a price point that works for every organization.