LDAP vs SSO – What’s the Difference? (Explained with Use Cases)

LDAP vs SSO, What’s the Difference?.  When a small business grows into a large corporation with a large profit margin, revenue increases, and the organization grows in size and complexity. Then, such a firm requires a safe and fast authentication system for the company’s users. It is a necessary prerequisite for such a business.

Additionally, with so many sub-categories in the identity and access management (IAM), it would be beneficial to have some clarity on their different use cases. After all, managing modern networks can be challenging, and you’ll want the greatest tools available. In this article, we will dive into the differences between LDAP vs SSO so that you can know which tool to use for your next application.

LDAP vs SSO

What is LDAP?

LDAP is short for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. This is a modification of an x500, which is a complicated enterprise directory system. Since the original release of LDAP, there have been upgrades, and the most recent version of LDAP is version 3. This protocol is a mechanism that is used by applications such as email and browsers.

Clients who use LDAP on their servers can request information from LDAP servers in a variety of ways. This data is then transmitted to directories, which are a collection of ordered records. All data entered into this type of server is indexed methodically. When you type a name group request, all of the information about that group is displayed and presented.

What is LDAP
Example of LDAP Authentication using Active Directory

Apart from receiving information from contacts, this server is also used to store information about certificates that are encrypted, and so on. The LDAP server is a necessity in a corporation where all information is kept infrequently and must be accessed from time to time.

The main benefit of LDAP is that it allows a complete organization’s information to be centralized into a single location. LDAP, for example, can be used as a central directory accessible from anywhere on the network, rather than managing user lists for each group inside an organization.

If you wish to learn more about the LDAP, use the following link: https://ldap.com/ 

What is SSO?

A single sign on system is abbreviated as SSO. The system assists the user by allowing them to log in once and gain access to many systems. This means that a user does not have to log in every time he wants to access a system by providing his user ID. Another feature is the single sign-off system, which allows a user to log out of all the accounts that he or she has access to at once.

What is SSO
Example of Single Sign On being used

Each system in SSO works with a distinct type of mechanism.

As a result, during initial authentication, the system employs these various ways to operate several systems simultaneously using credentials. SSO benefits a person by lowering the time it takes to complete a task, reducing password stability, and so on. This also includes lowering costs throughout the authentication procedure.

An individual who uses SSO at a corporation will always have a web-based user name and password. The SSO software sends this information to the security server at the same time, and the security server follows up by sending the identical message to the LDAP server. After all of this, the user receives authentication to access the systems if the login is successful.

LDAP vs SSO - Compare These Authentication Technologies

The enterprise environment is referred to by both SSO and LDAP. It is prudent to safeguard the user authentication mechanisms in this context, and this is where both SSO and LDAP come into play. SSO is a method of authentication in which a user has access to many systems with a single login, whereas LDAP is a method of authentication in which the protocol is authenticated by utilizing an application that assists in obtaining information from the server.

Access

  1. SSO uses a single point of access, whereas an LDAP has multiple access points. A single point of access in SSO saves time and resources as it provides the following advantages: 

 

    • Reduce support calls: Users who just have one password to access all of their apps will need help less frequently.
    • Enhance the user experience: Users save 5 to 15 seconds per login because they don’t have to switch between numerous login URLs or reset passwords.
    • Reduce the likelihood of a security breach: Employees can safely use their SSO login credentials on any device and in any web browser.

As you can see, one of the most significant advantages of SSO is the opportunity to boost end-user productivity.

LDAP, on the other hand, gives you the ability to consolidate information by replacing application-specific databases; reducing the number of distinct databases to be managed. It allows for more frequent data synchronization between masters and replicas and is multi-platform and multi-vendor compatible.

Functionality

2. The SSO functions as an application, whereas LDAP functions as a protocol for the user.

Example of SSO being used with LDAP Authentication to access applications

Image Source: SonarQube

LDAP vs SSO Use cases

3. Furthermore, SSO is a large-scale system for granting access to systems, and LDAP is a component of the SSO system. SSO allows businesses to have centralized control over who has access to their systems and what level of access each person has. SSO also lowers password fatigue by requiring team members to remember only one username/password for access to various platforms, for example WordPress SSO is used to allow users to login without a password as users automatically authenticate against Active Directory..

LDAP is appropriate for instances where you need to access data often but only sometimes update or modify it. That means it’s great for passwords: it can handle password expiration, password quality validation, and account lockout after a certain number of failed attempts. An LDAP agent can authenticate users in real-time by comparing the data supplied to what’s recorded in the LDAP database in real-time, eliminating the need to keep sensitive user data on the cloud.

4. It’s also worth noting that LDAP is also used as an SSO. This is evident when a quick lookup is required when the information stored is rarely updated. LDAP servers can be utilized in these situations. Public, organizational, or even small workgroup servers can be used as LDAP servers. The admin, like other servers, is in charge of determining the rights that can be granted to such databases.

Increased Security

5. SSO systems improve security and reduce phishing attacks on a system. The reduced number of authentication attempts is also a positive sign because it decreases end-user password fatigue. This results in lower operating costs for the support desk.

LDAP vs SSO - Conclusion

Thus, SSO is a user authentication method in which the user provides credentials once to access numerous systems. LDAP is an application protocol used by programs to search up information from a server, whereas LDAP is an application protocol used by applications to seek up information from a server. SSO is a user authentication application, while LDAP is the underlying protocol.

With an increase in sales, the company’s growth and complexity increase. At present, such a type of firm requires a safe and fast authentication system for the company’s users. It is a necessary prerequisite for such a business. In a business, SSO vs LDAP are two systems that are employed.

By having an in-depth understanding of these two systems, one person should be able to use them. To understand how and in what context they should be used. Although they are both system operators, they differ in several ways.

An individual should know how to use these two systems by having an insightful view of them. To know-how and in what context they are supposed to be used. Both are system operators, but they do have their differences in many aspects. Thus, it is essential to use these differences so that one can choose the best authentication system for his next application.

Avatar for Emad Bin Abid
Emad Bin Abid

I'm a software engineer who has a bright vision and a strong interest in designing and engineering software solutions. I readily understand that in today's agile world the development process has to be rapid, reusable, and scalable; hence it is extremely important to develop solutions that are well-designed and embody a well-thought-of architecture as the baseline. Apart from designing and developing business solutions, I'm a content writer who loves to document technical learnings and experiences so that peers in the same industry can also benefit from them.

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