Single Sign-On (SSO) is user authentication process where a user is able to enter a single password to gain entry to multiple computer systems and/or multiple software applications within a single system.
Entry to a system containing multiple software applications will be conditional to (and dependent upon) the number and type of applications that a user has been granted access and permission to. In theory, this then gives the user the ability to switch between different applications without having to sign in and authenticate themselves multiple times.
Single-Sign-On has huge potential use in healthcare applications that demand far higher security protocols than say your own personal sign-in to Outlook, Twitter or any other desktop- or mobile-based service. If for example a clinician needs to log into one application to retrieve patient files, another one to access x-rays records and another to look at test results — then life-saving time could be wasted.
Will SSO move to our desktops? The weight of industry innovation suggests that it will. Technologies are emerging which claim to offer secure Single-Sign-On power for desktops and mobile devices including iPads right now. The crucial question will of course be, is it safe?
To ensure security is upheld throughout authentication, an SSO offering will need to evidence multi-factor authentication for security at its heart. Also crucial is that it must capable of straddling the challenge of SSO authentication across an increasing large amount of web- and/or cloud-based applications on mobile devices i.e. while “ubiquity of access” is used as a positive tagline for both cloud applications and Single-Sign-On technologies, without a security layer in place both propositions start to look like they could represent new risks and weaknesses.
As we now move from paper-based systems to electronic documentation at so many levels, SSO technologies will need to evolve and stay secure on the road ahead.