Federated Identity Management (FIM) vs. Single Sign On (SSO)

Federated Identity Management (FIM) vs. Single Sign On (SSO)

Cyber security has become big news in recent years after a number of major breaches hit the headlines. Despite this, Australians are seriously lax when it comes to passwords.

Around 90% of Australians say that they know that reusing passwords is insecure, but around 66% of us do it anyway. What’s more, over half of us say that they have not changed their password in the last 12 months, despite several high profile breaches.

Log-in solutions such as Single Sign On (SSO) and Federated Identity Management (FIM) can help Australians stay secure with their passwords, while also keeping their apps and software pieces accessible. But which one is best?

The era of SSO

Once upon a time, back in the early days of the internet, there was no choice to be made. Single Sign On was the go-to for businesses looking to secure their apps and properties. Already available as early as the late ’90s, it was at the turn of the millennium that SSO really began to gather pace as IT began to shift into the connected space.

Nowadays, however, the landscape is a little different. It’s far more complicated, for one, and there is more choice available to businesses. But which is the best option?

What is FIM?

Federated Identity Management — or FIM — has a far broader scope than that of SSO. Rather than requiring tens, hundreds, or even thousands of different sign-on credentials, FIM permits users to sign in to different apps and programs using existing identifying information. When you use your Google or Facebook account to sign into something like Spotify, you are using an FIM model.


  • Very quick sign-in, even across different devices.
  • Personnel operating across different enterprises can securely retain the same sign-in details.
  • Users do not need a new password for each new device.


  • Business organisations may not want to link their applications to social media log-ins, for fear of reducing productivity.
  • If users lose control of their central account — their Google or Facebook account, for example — through hacking or due to another reason, this can make login impossible.

Use cases

  • Users who may need to log into different structures across different enterprises.
  • Users who may need to access apps and software across many different devices.

What is SSO?

SSO is a simple, but effective, method of signing into an application of software program. The user inputs a user name and password, for example, and they gain access to the digital structure. The same access credentials may then be used to gain access to different applications by signing in again, but there is no interaction between the different apps.


  • SSO is faster than traditional methods of manual log-in.
  • It also reduces the needs for direct user support.
  • SSO is secure, even across different devices.


  • Users signing in on a new device still need to remember their credentials.
  • May not be suitable for multiple logins across multiple different enterprises.

Use cases

  • Users accessing many different departments within the same enterprise.
  • Users utilising the same set of devices to access apps.

Overview: Key differences between FIM and SSO

Both FIM and SSO are aimed at helping users achieve secure logins across multiple different apps. The key difference is simply the scope of their capability. While SSO is designed for access to multiple apps and accounts within a single enterprise, FIM gives users the opportunity to securely use one set of credentials to access many different accounts and apps across the web.

Keeping businesses protected

Whether you decide to use SSO or FIM to achieve efficient access within your business’ structure, security needs to remain paramount. We are committed to supporting safe, secure and swift logins for business users, bolstering their cyber security efforts with our Managed Cyber Security Services. Reach out to our team to learn more.

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