What is SAML and how is it being used?

Modified on Tue, 13 Oct 2020 at 08:19 PM

What is SAML?

Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) is a computer protocol that allows users to reuse their authentication credentials to log into multiple applications, instead of setting up new accounts with new credentials for every application. SAML is not the only protocol that does this. OpenID Connect (ODIC), for example, is a very popular authentication protocol for consumer applications that allow users to use their Facebook or Google accounts to log into other Web applications instead of setting up new accounts for every application. SAML does the exact same thing only using different technical conventions. From the users’ perspective, they do the same thing.  

Benefits of SAML Authentication

Better User Experience — users sign in once to the Identity Provider (IdP) and can access any application that works with that IdP. Authentication works like a single sign-on. 

Improved Security — authentication is implemented by the IdP instead of each application building its own authentication capability, which is likely to be flawed and buggy thus open to attacks.

Easier and more cost-effective to maintain — user identities are maintained in one location instead of being replicated multiple times in multiple user directories.


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