What is the Difference Between MFA and SSO?

What is the Difference Between MFA and SSO?
What is the Difference Between MFA and SSO?

Ensuring high data security and protection is a must in today’s age of increasing cybersecurity attacks and data breaches. Yet, while usernames and passwords are the foundational user identification factors, they aren’t enough today to combat online attacks and ensure maximum data protection.

As cybersecurity threats become more complex, organisations must choose between the two most important security solutions: Single Sign-on (SSO) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). While both these solutions offer exclusive benefits, including user experience, organisations confuse the two to choose the most secure, ideal, seamless, and best cybersecurity solution.

In this article, we’ll see SSO and MFA security solutions, SSO vs MFA, and their benefits for your business.

What is SSO?

SSO or Single Sign-on is a login authentication method that allows users to log in to their website accounts or applications using a single set of credentials. Thus, users can access independent applications with a single user ID and password.

It’s one of the essential Identity and Access Management (IAM) platforms to control access. One of IAM’s major benefits is its streamlined approach, allowing users to access multiple applications and services without entering new login credentials.

One of the most common examples of SSO is Google’s set of services. With a single login, Google allows you to easily access your Gmail account, drive, documents, calendar, Google Meet, maps, photos, and more applications.

Benefits of SSO for Your Business

Single Sign-on solutions prevent cyberattacks and provide the following benefits for your organisation.

  • SSO provides a seamless user experience to the customers, allowing them to use and navigate through multiple web applications and domains with a single identity.
  • Improve revenue and conversions, allowing users to access all services and domains with a single active session.
  • It saves time by excluding the need to re-enter passwords for the same user identity, enhancing productivity.
  • Helps reduce IT costs due to fewer passwords and help desk calls regarding forgotten passwords and user credentials.
  • Mitigates risk through risk-free access to third-party sites and applications.

What is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)?

Multi-Factor Authentication is a multi-layered cybersecurity solution that verifies the user’s identity for login using two or more authentication factors required to access the applications.

SSO poses security risks because of easy password-guessing and the ability to access the login credentials. Therefore, MFA ensures additional layers of security to strengthen security further and prevent malicious login attempts.

MFA credentials come in these primary categories:

  • Factors that the users know, like passwords, PINs, or security questions.
  • Factors that the users have like devices (mobile phones) to receive unique OTPs or text messages.
  • Factors that the users are or associate with the user’s body, like fingerprints, biometrics, facial recognition, retina scans, and voice recognition.

With that, let’s look at the benefits of Multi-Factor Authentication solutions.

Benefits of MFA for Your Business

Here are some of the excellent benefits of implementing MFA for your business.

  • Enhances security with additional security protection for employees in multiple layers.
  • Boosts employee productivity with streamlined authentication, resulting in a quality user experience.
  • Reduces operational costs with reduced risks of data breaches and online attacks.
  • Protects weak employees’ passwords with MFA’s passwordless authentication.

Now, let’s see the difference between SSO vs MFA.

MFA vs SSO: What to Choose?

While SSO and Multi-Factor Authentication applications are mutually exclusive, MFA offers more flexibility and robust security than SSO.

SSO helps users stay authenticated on multiple interconnected applications and independent platforms with a single identity. However, their problem is that they rely on a single authentication credential. If a hacker can guess this login successfully, it results in data loss and breaches.

Conversely, MFA requires stringent and multiple authentication factors, as a single layer of security isn’t sufficient. It significantly reduces the risks of identity and credentials theft, enhances user experience, and protects weak employees’ passwords.

Let’s understand the difference between SSO and MFA with the following table.

Single Sign-On (SSO)

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Allows access to multiple accounts with a single login.

Allows access to accounts using multiple authentication methods.

Have to enter only one password for different accounts.

Have to provide an additional form of identity to access the account.

Reduces the nuisance of remembering the password.

Reduces the pressure to generate complex passwords.

Mainly used for VPNs, services and applications.

Generally used for cloud applications.

It simplifies the login process.

It offers advanced security to accounts.


Thus, several businesses are incorporating MFA solutions within their enterprises to secure critical business data and files and avoid security attacks and incurring losses.

If you’re looking for Multi-Factor Authentication, you must check out InstaSafe Zero Trust and Adaptive MFA services. Leverage smart, secure, and authenticated access with SSO and MFA capabilities to verify your users and ensure high on-premise security.

Book a demo for free to learn more.

FAQs on the Difference Between SSO and MFA

  1. Is MFA the same as SSO?

No, MFA and SSO are two different technologies with different purposes. MFA enhances security, while SSO offers convenience to users.

2. Which is better, MFA or SSO?

MFA offers enhanced security and makes granting access to unauthorised devices impossible, while SSO offers productivity since the login process is easy.

3. Can SSO replace MFA?

No, both are the validation process but use different approaches to enhance the user's security experience.

4. Can MFA and SSO be used together?

Yes, one can use MFO and SSO to better the user experience. In SSO logins, an MFO-added security layer can be added.

5. Does MFA need SSO?

To give their user convenience, MFA can employ SSO. So that user can log in using a single username and password. However, they have to verify their identity using different checkpoints that MFA offers.

6. What is the difference between SSO and authentication?

Authentication is a process that verifies the identity of a user, while SSO is a type of authentication mechanism that allows access to multiple accounts using a single login.

7. What type of authentication is SSO?

It is a process of authentication that allows multiple logins to use single credentials without worrying about reauthentication.

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