Auth0 SSO: A Practical Guide

Single Sign-On (SSO) is a process that allows users to access multiple applications with a single set of credentials (username and password), without having to log in to each application separately. The goal of AuthO SSO is to increase convenience and security for users by reducing the number of passwords they need to remember, and by providing a central point of control for administrators.

This article describes the basics of SSO and how to implement SSO with Auth0, a commercial authentication and authorization service.

This is part of a series of articles about Auth0.

In this article:

What Is Auth0? 

Auth0 is an authentication and authorization platform for SaaS applications and services. The platform provides a wide range of features and tools to help developers secure their applications, including SSO, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and social login. With Auth0, developers can add authentication to their applications, without having to worry about the underlying security details.

In addition to providing authentication services, Auth0 also offers a robust set of APIs and integrations with popular identity providers such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. This allows developers to leverage existing identities and workflows, and to add new features to their applications with ease.

How Does Single-Sign-On Work? 

SSO allows a user to access multiple SaaS applications with one single set of login credentials. When a user signs in to one application, they are automatically signed in to all other applications that are connected to the same SSO system. 

This is achieved by using a central authentication service, which verifies the user’s identity and then generates a token that can be used to access other applications. The token is typically passed between the applications through a secure connection, and the user is not required to enter their login credentials again. 

How Does AuthO SSO Work: The Flow 

Auth0 uses Universal Login to define the login flow, a key feature of the authorization server. Every time a user attempts to prove their identity, the application redirects to Universal Login and Auth0 works to guarantee the user’s identity.

Universal Login does not require any integration work to handle authentication. You can start using a simple username and password, and add additional features like MFA and social login.  This process works dynamically and can be adjusted in real time without any application-level changes.

When setting up SSO with Auth0, the Auth0 Authorization Server serves as the Central Service. Here is an example of how the SSO flow works when a user first logs in:

  1. The application redirects the user to the login page.
  2. Auth0 looks for an existing SSO cookie.
  3. Since this is the first time this user is visiting the login page and there is no SSO cookie, the user is asked to log in with one of the pre-configured connections.
  4. After the user logs in, Auth0 sets an SSO cookie and redirects the user to the application, returning an ID Token containing identity information for this user.

How to Implement Auth0 SSO

Implementing Auth0 SSO typically involves the following steps:

  1. Set up an Auth0 account: The first step is to create an Auth0 account, either through the free tier or by purchasing a paid plan.
  2. Create an Auth0 application: Next, create an Auth0 application that represents the application that you want to secure with SSO. You can do this from the Auth0 Dashboard.
  3. Configure the SSO settings: From the Auth0 Dashboard, navigate to the SSO tab of the application you created in step 2 and configure the SSO settings as per your needs. For example, you can configure the Universal Login page, the allowed identity providers, and the domain whitelist.
  4. Integrate Auth0 into your application: To integrate Auth0 into your application, you’ll need to install the Auth0 SDK and add code to your application to handle the authentication process. The SDK provides a range of functions that handle the communication between your application and Auth0, including redirecting the user to the Universal Login page and handling the authentication response.
  5. Test the SSO implementation: Finally, test your implementation to ensure that the SSO process is working as expected. You can use the Auth0 Dashboard to test the SSO process, or you can create a simple test application that integrates with Auth0.

It’s important to keep in mind that implementing SSO with Auth0 requires a solid understanding of application security, as well as the ability to code and integrate the Auth0 SDK into your application. If you’re not familiar with these concepts, you may need to seek the help of a security expert or a software development consultant.

Pros and Cons of AuthO

When using Auth0 for SSO, you should consider the pros and cons. The following points are based on publicly available reviews published on Software Advice.

Pros include:

  • Customizability: Many users find Auth0 easy to customize and adapt to changing business requirements. For example, Auth0 provides customizable email, HTML, and SMS templates to easily switch between branded web/mobile apps with their universal login or email.
  • Compatibility: Users can connect a wide range of applications and APIs, written in various languages, to Auth0.

Cons include:

  • Steep learning curve: Using the auth0-deploy-cli tool to automate the deployment can be difficult, and any modification requires expert knowledge.
  • Multi-tenancy: Users find it inconvenient to build a multi-tenant application with Auth0. The management console does not include all needed features, such as application and database search. It also does not provide adequate source management, code deployment, and configurations across tenants.
  • Documentation: Some of Auth0’s documentation is difficult to understand. Many users report they get lost in the docs and find the information confusing.
  • Support: Since the product line is available for many different platforms, navigating the support site can be complex. Some users also report that the support team is slow to respond.
  • Pricing: Users find Auth0’s pricing expensive compared to similar solutions.

Related content: Read our guide to Auth0 alternatives

SSO with Frontegg

Now that we have understood how Auth0 SSO works, it’s equally important to see how much work (and time) can be saved with Frontegg’s self-served user management platform. Once you’re in, all you need to do is enable SSO, configure it (something that just takes a few minutes), and define the customer identity provider. It just takes a few clicks and doesn’t take your focus away from what really matters – innovation.

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