Understanding What SAML Stands For: A Comprehensive Guide to Security Assertion Markup Language Authentication



Understanding What SAML Stands For: A Comprehensive Guide to Security Assertion Markup Language Authentication

Understanding What SAML Stands For: A Comprehensive Guide to Security Assertion Markup Language Authentication


Admina team


How SAML Authentication Works


The use of single sign-on (SSO) is increasing for a variety of cloud services. One of the standards used for authentication is SAML authentication. This section describes SAML authentication.

SAML stands for Security Assertion Markup Language and is one of the mechanisms to realize SSO (Single Sign-On).

SAML is a standard for authentication information to authenticate users across different domains developed by OASIS. In other words, SAML refers to a rule protocol for exchanging user authentication information.

SAML authentication is an authentication method that exchanges authentication information between two IdPs and SPs. First, let's look at what each is.

IdP stands for Identify Provider, which registers and manages user authentication information; in SAML authentication, it is the provider of authentication information (Identify).

SP stands for Service Provider, which is the cloud service that actually provides the system.

Between these two, authentication (*) is performed according to the following flow.

(1) A user accesses IdP.
(2) IdP displays an authentication screen in response to the access.
(3) Authentication is performed between the user and IdP.
(4) If the authentication process is successful, the user logs in to the IdP.
(5) The user selects an application to log in.
(6) The IdP issues a SAML authentication response.
(7) The user sends the SAML authentication response to the SP.
(8) SP logs in based on the SAML authentication response.
(*)Authentication flow in IdP-initiated


How does SSO work? An In-Depth Explanation Single Sign-On


Benefits of SAML Authentication

Using SAML authentication offers the following advantages

(1) Improved usability

Registered cloud services allow users to log in without having to enter passwords for each application, thus reducing the amount of time and effort required to enter passwords.

Also, from an account management perspective, only one set of account information needs to be managed, making it easier to manage accounts due to departmental transfers or resignations.

(2) Improved security

SAML authentication eliminates the need for users to manage multiple passwords when using cloud services.

When users have multiple accounts, they tend to set short passwords due to the hassle and trouble involved, making them vulnerable to brute force attacks.

This makes it possible to use a password that is difficult to be tricked, thereby improving security.

Combined with multi-factor authentication, unauthorized access can be prevented.

Next, let us consider the disadvantages of SAML authentication.

(1) High risk of password leakage and high impact in case of failure

If a set of account information is leaked to the outside, an unauthorized user can gain access to all applications, which may lead to a serious information leakage. In addition, if the system goes down, access to all applications may become impossible because it is the entry point for all authentication.

(2) The number of applications that support SAML is limited.

Not all applications support SAML authentication. Some applications that do not support SAML cannot be SSO (single sign-on) by SAML authentication, and some require additional costs.


Specific examples of companies offering SAML authentication services

Okta Single Sign-On (Okta, Inc.)


Realize ID management that fits your employees.Secure access for all users, all applications, all devices.Simplify identity and access management for enterprise efficiency and security.

Pricing Starting at US$2/user/month

Please refer to our website for the latest information, other options, and detailed features.


OneLogin / OneLogin, Inc.


A secure single sign-on solution in the cloud supported by IT departments, security departments, and users


Starting at $2 per user per month (contracts start at $1,500 per year)

Please refer to our website for the latest information, other options, and detailed features.




Single sign-on is a mechanism to secure and streamline access to applications by centrally managing accounts.

It may be beneficial for companies with a large number of employees, who enter and leave the company frequently, and especially for those who want to increase the level of security.

However, it is not without its disadvantages. If the advantages are significant, considering the current issues and cost balance, it may be a good idea to consider implementing the system.

In addition, please refer to the following page for a summary of the differences between SAML and OAuth

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