On the surface, digital signage looks extremely easy to work with. You create a banner using Canva, upload it using a USB stick or schedule it via CMS, set it up to run for 12 or 24 hours per day and that is it.

However, managing an entire digital signage system is much more complex and risky. The challenge lies in ensuring only the right people can change what is being displayed without compromising security.

This is where Single Sign-On (SSO) and Active Directory (AD) step in. The entire process is streamlined by these technologies, enhancing user access, content management and overall user-friendliness, while also notably improving safety.

Let me first explain what these two systems are.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Single Sign-On (SSO)?
  2. What is Active Directory (AD)?
  3. Why Does Digital Signage Need SSO/AD?
  4. Benefits of SSO/AD Integration
  5. How to Integrate SSO/AD in Your Digital Signage

What is Single Sign-On (SSO)?

Single Sign-On, or SSO, allows users to access multiple applications or systems with just one set of login credentials. This approach streamlines the login process and enhances user convenience and security by reducing password fatigue.

An example of SSO in action is when an employee logs into their company’s portal and gains access to a suite of applications like email, HR software and digital signage management tools without needing to log in separately to each one.

This seamless experience saves time and minimises the risk of password-related security breaches.

What is Active Directory (AD)?

Active Directory (AD) is a Microsoft-developed directory service that stores information about domain members. It includes users and devices and manages their access to network resources.

AD allows for centralised permissions management, ensuring users have the appropriate access levels based on their roles. For example, a new marketing team member needs access to the digital signage system to update promotional content.

Through AD, the system administrator can easily assign the necessary permissions to this user, enabling access to the digital signage system while keeping other systems secure and restricted.

Why Does Digital Signage Need SSO/AD?

Why Does Digital Signage Need SSOAD

To understand why SSO and AD are so valuable for digital signage, let’s first look at the challenges of managing user access.

1. User Management Challenges

Managing access for different users in a digital signage network can be complex. Content creators, administrators and IT personnel all need different levels of access.

For instance, a content creator needs to update and manage content, an administrator might need access to user management and system settings, and IT personnel require deeper access for maintenance and security purposes. Coordinating this across multiple systems without a unified access control solution leads to inefficiency and increases the risk of errors.

2. Security Concerns

Digital signage systems, like any other digital platform, face security vulnerabilities such as unauthorised access and data breaches. These systems often integrate with databases containing sensitive information, making them attractive targets for cyberattacks.

The traditional method of using separate login credentials for each system multiplies the risk of password theft or loss. Additionally, the more complex the access management system, the harder it is to promptly revoke access for users who no longer require it, leaving potential security gaps.

Benefits of SSO/AD Integration

Integrating Single Sign-On (SSO) and Active Directory (AD) with digital signage systems simplifies user access management dramatically. It enables seamless authentication across various systems, reducing the need for multiple passwords and decreasing the likelihood of unauthorised access.

This integration ensures that users have appropriate access based on their roles, streamlining the workflow for content creators, administrators and IT personnel alike.

1. Simplified Access Management

Managing user access is simplified with SSO and AD. Upon a new employee joining the team, they can be promptly added to the AD, automatically gaining access to all necessary systems, including the digital signage platform. Similarly, when someone leaves, their access can be revoked in one place. It instantly removes their permissions across all systems.

2. Enhanced Security

By reducing the number of passwords each user needs to remember, SSO and AD lower the risk of password-related security breaches.

Furthermore, AD’s centralised management allows for consistent application of security policies across the organisation, including password complexity requirements and authentication methods.

3. Improved User Experience

Users benefit from a smoother, more efficient workflow. Content creators can focus more on developing impactful content rather than navigating complex login processes.

Administrators can manage permissions more effectively and IT personnel can enforce security measures more consistently.

Incorporating SSO and AD into digital signage systems not only addresses the pressing issues of security and user management but also enhances the overall operational efficiency and user experience of these critical communication tools.

How to Integrate SSO/AD in Your Digital Signage

1. Assess Compatibility and Requirements

Investigate whether your digital signage software natively supports SSO and AD integration. This might involve reading through technical documentation or reaching out to the software’s customer support.

Understand which SSO solution (like Okta, Azure AD or Google Workspace) and which version of Active Directory (like on-premises AD or Azure AD) you are using.
Confirm that these services are compatible with each other and with your digital signage software, possibly requiring APIs or specific protocols like SAML 2.0 or OpenID Connect.

2. Plan the Integration

Clearly outline what roles will be required within your digital signage network (e.g., admin, editor, viewer) and determine the specific permissions each role should have. This step ensures that access levels are appropriately managed through AD.

3. Configure Active Directory

Within AD, organise users into groups based on their roles and access needs regarding the digital signage system. This organisational structure simplifies the management of access rights and permissions.

For organisations using both on-premises AD and cloud-based services, setting up directory synchronisation ensures that user accounts and groups are consistent and up-to-date across environments. Tools like Azure AD Connect can automate this synchronisation.

4. Enable SSO in Your Digital Signage System

Input necessary configuration details into your digital signage system to enable SSO. This typically includes URLs for the SSO login and logout processes, certificates for secure communication and any required client IDs or secrets.

Rigorously test the SSO integration to ensure that users can log in smoothly and that the system properly handles authentication and authorisation. Testing should cover various user roles and attempt to identify any potential security or user experience issues.

5. Implement Security Protocols

Implement secure communication protocols (such as SAML or OAuth) to protect the exchange of authentication and authorisation data between the digital signage system, the SSO service and AD. Ensuring encrypted communications prevents interception and unauthorised access.

Cybersecurity is dynamic, so regularly review and update your security configurations to protect against new vulnerabilities. This includes updating encryption standards, authentication protocols and password policies.

6. Train Your Team

Provide clear instructions and training sessions for end-users on how to use SSO for accessing the digital signage system. Address any common questions or concerns they might have.

Administrators should receive detailed training on managing the integration. It includes adding or removing users, modifying permissions and troubleshooting common issues. This ensures they are prepared to support users and maintain the system effectively.

7. Monitor and Maintain the Integration

Establish a routine for checking the health and performance of the SSO/AD integration. Look for any signs of issues, such as login failures or slow authentication times, which could indicate underlying problems.

(April 9, 2024). Ameera Surekha-Groen – MagicInfo Service. Retrieved from https://blog.magicinfoservices.com/blog/digital-signage-security-sso-ad-integration