So, where might SSO fit in? Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires that companies prove they have sufficient IT controls in place to protect the broader financial controls mandated specifically by the legislation. Although Section 404 is vague when it comes to specific recommendations, it sheds light on auditor requirements. IT controls should be documented and prove that there are adequate policies and procedures for protecting data, including access control, encryption, firewalls and antivirus protection.
With that in mind, one secret to SSO implementation is the centralization of authentication on specialized SSO servers and architectures. Unlike standard authentication systems, SSO is usually pretty complicated. It requires a lot of planning – that could mean documentation – and has to integrate into existing authentication systems. Aside from the documentation, these systems also require more tuning, auditing and logging to stay healthy and hacker-free than simpler authentication systems to single applications or networks.
It's this centralization, combined with the documentation of logging and auditing of systems needed to run SSO that will probably impress your auditors trying to boost your compliance efforts.
More on single sign-on and compliance:
This was first published in August 2006