Federated identities and identity management

Want to know how federated identities and Single Sign On (SSO) can provide a seamless digital experience for businesses and users? Dive into the world of secure identity management in this article!

⏱ Reading time: 5 minutes

Welcome to the age of user experience

You know the drill, right? You surf the web and have to log in to every shop and app, no matter how small, creating a new password. Or was it the same password you use everywhere (which you should never do, of course!)? This can often be done more simply, and that’s where federated identity management usually comes into play.

What are federated identities?

Federated identity roughly means that you can share your digital identity with several independent systems and apps. It’s a bit like your driving licence, which allows you to drive in all EU countries without having to apply for a new one everywhere. Practical, isn’t it?

Or you go out dancing in the evening and stand in front of the bouncer with the guest list at the entrance to the club. Instead of saying your name, you could just say, “Ask your boss, he knows who I am!” OK, admittedly, maybe not a very realistic scenario. But that’s how federated identity management works.

Federated Identity Management in everyday life

A classic example of this is when you use your Apple account to log in to an app or website that doesn’t belong to Apple. Or when you log in to a new online shop with your Amazon account. In both cases, you don’t have to create a new account, but use your existing identity.

This is not only convenient for us as users, but also more secure. Because identity providers like Google and Amazon usually have very good security measures in place to protect our digital identities.

SSO and federated identities – how are they related?

Single Sign On (SSO), or in plain English “Sign in once, please”, works hand in hand with federated identities. SSO is like a bouncer who lets you into several clubs because he already knows you are on the guest list or he has already asked his boss about you.

With SSO, you have to log in once and then you have access to several applications or services. That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Yes, that’s right, it’s also federated identity management!

SSO uses federated identities to navigate you seamlessly and securely through different systems. It’s the icing on the federated identity management cake that helps you manage your digital identities easily and securely.

Keycloak: The key master for your universe

Let’s take a brief look at Keycloak. Keycloak is your personal key master that manages your various online “keys”. Keycloak is an open source identity and access management platform that supports single sign-on (SSO) with federated identities.

Instead of having and carrying around twenty different keys for twenty different locks, you only have one key for Keycloak, which manages access to all connected apps for you. You log in to Keycloak once and Keycloak does the rest for you. No, it won’t do your laundry, but it will make sure you can easily and securely access your various apps and services. And that’s pretty cool, right?

BYOID (Bring Your Own IDentity): Your passport, your rules

Now we come to BYOID (Bring Your Own IDentity). BYOID basically means something very similar to federated identity management and single sign-on. With BYOID, you literally bring your own digital identity and get access to services and applications with it.

It’s like taking your own bottle of wine to a restaurant. The waiter uncorks it and pours it for you. You use your existing credentials (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) to get access to new websites or apps instead of creating a new account. We’ve already done that today.

The idea behind BYOID is again to avoid frustrating user experiences (“Again, I have to register!”) with a plus of security (“No new passwords, guys and gals!”). BYOID is when you sign in with your Google account. Then you carry a digital identity to the provider, so to speak. And in terms of security, of course, the big identity providers like Google and Facebook have already implemented strict security measures to protect your identity.

 

Federated identities: The invisible hero in the B2B environment

Let’s get a little “business-y”. In the business environment, especially in the B2B world, federated identities are as essential as a cup of coffee after a night out. Why, you ask? Because they can dramatically improve the ease of use and security in the exchange of data and identities between business partners.

Think of it this way: if your company (Company A) is working with another company (Company B) and there’s a lot of back and forth, you don’t want to have to create and remember new credentials for every exchange. It would be like asking your name every time you meet your best friend – totally unnecessary. And you don’t have to come up with nicknames (and passwords) that you then have to remember.

Instead, using federated identities gives you a seamless user experience by letting you use your existing identities and permissions. And it’s like a fluid pass exchange in football – it makes the game faster, more efficient and more enjoyable.

 

SCIM Provisioning: The Game Changer

Now let’s clarify where SCIM comes in. SCIM, or System for Cross-domain Identity Management, is like having a universal charger that fits all devices. It is a standardised service that enables the management of user identities across different systems.

In the case of user account provisioning, this means that SCIM automates the creation, updating and deletion of accounts in one or more systems. Imagine creating or deleting a bunch of accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all at once with a single command.

Combined with federated identities in B2B services, SCIM provisioning enables optimal control and management of user identities and their permissions. This leads to higher efficiency and more secure data exchange between business partners.

In the business world, federated identities and tools like SCIM are not nice extras, they are as necessary as that cup of coffee that gets us through the day. They enable seamless collaboration and strengthen security measures – and that’s something we all appreciate in the business world.

Conclusion

Far too often we have to remember new credentials or, worse, have an email sent to us to reset a password. With federated identity management and SSO, this hassle is a thing of the past. So our tip: make use of it whenever you can!

Remember: Internet security is not magic, and you don’t need a magic wand to do it. Sometimes it’s as simple as: Log in once, please!

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