In addition to the user authentication provided by Zendesk, you can also use single sign-on to authenticate your users outside of Zendesk. There are three types of SSO: social account, business account, and enterprise.
This article contains the following sections:
Essential facts for SSO
Below are some essential facts for you about the available single sign-on options. These are explained in greater detail throughout the rest of this article.
- Admins and agents can only sign in with either their Google, Microsoft, or Zendesk accounts. End users can sign in with all social and business accounts, in addition to their Zendesk accounts. All user groups can use enterprise single sign-on, but it will replace any existing sign-on methods.
- If your Zendesk is closed or restricted, and a user tries to sign in with a different email than the one in Zendesk Support, their request will be rejected (see Enabling social and business account single sign-on).
- If you want to sync custom user fields when a user signs in, you must use JWT.
- If you use both JWT and SAML, you must set one as the primary authentication.
- If you're using a third party identity provider to authenticate, you must configure the Zendesk app with the identity provider.
- It is not possible to apply different SSO options to individual brands, unless using a custom script for JWT (see Multi-brand- Using multiple JWT Single Sign-on URL's (Professional Add-on and Enterprise).
- If you place a wildcard (*) in the blacklist, users will no longer be able to authenticate or create an account with SSO. For more information, see Using the whitelist and blacklist to control access to your Zendesk.
Social and business account single sign-on
Social and business account single sign-on are additional sign-in options you can provide for your users' convenience. You can make these logins available on your Help Center sign-in page, so users can either authenticate with their Zendesk Support account or a social or business account.
Social accounts include Facebook and Twitter and business accounts include Google and Microsoft. Agents and admins can only use business accounts to authenticate, but end users can authenticate with both.
Microsoft sign-in is not supported in the iPad version of Zendesk Support for Mobile app. The Google sign-in supports both Gmail and Google Apps. The Federated Login Service is disabled by default for Google Apps Business and Education accounts. The domain admin can enable it from the Control Panel at http://www.google.com/a/cpanel/yourdomain/SetupIdp. If two-factor authentication is enabled by the user or for the Google Apps domain (Google Authenticator), this functionality is supported by this authentication process.
For instructions on adding social and business account single sign-on to your login page, see Enabling social and business account single sign-on.
Enterprise single sign-on
Enterprise single sign-on is different than social media and business account single sign-on. Instead of being optional and in addition to the Zendesk account sign-in, enterprise single sign-on replaces all other sign-in options.
About enterprise single sign-on
When you enable enterprise single sign-on, you're bypassing Zendesk and authenticating your users externally. When users navigate to your Zendesk sign-in page or click a link to your Zendesk, they can authenticate by signing into a corporate server or a third party identity provider. Enabling enterprise single sign-on also affects the iOS and Android versions of the Zendesk mobile app.
If you're using enterprise single sign-on, your users' sign-in flow will follow the sequence below:
- Users navigate to a Zendesk page or subdomain.
- If not already authenticated, users are redirected to your corporate server or third party identity provider login page, depending on the enterprise SSO option you selected.
- Users enter their sign-in credentials.
- If valid, users are redirected back to the original Zendesk page.
Both your end users and your agents can sign in to your Zendesk using enterprise single sign-on. You can configure enterprise SSO only for end-users, agents, or for both.
The advantage to using enterprise single sign-on is that you have complete control over your users, behind your firewall. You authenticate your users once, against your own user authentication system, and then grant them access to many other resources both inside and outside of your firewall. This also means that your user management is performed outside of your Zendesk, but your corporate user authentication system is still synced with Zendesk. So if you add a user account for a new employee, they will have immediate access to your Zendesk, or if you delete a user account that employee will no longer have access to your Zendesk.
By default, the only data that Zendesk stores for each user is their name and email address, but it's possible to sync more user data to Zendesk, like the user's organization.
If you aren't sure if enterprise single sign-on is the best for your use case, see Having the talk: Am I ready for a more advanced authentication option?
Enterprise single sign-on options
- JSON Web Token (JWT) is available only to Team, Professional, and Enterprise accounts. Credentials and user information is sent in JSON format encrypted using a Zendesk Shared Secret. JWT is a simpler option and enables you to use custom user fields to select what information is imported into Zendesk. For information on configuring JWT single sign-on, see Setting up single sign-on with JWT (JSON Web Token).
- Secure Assertion Markup Language (SAML) is available only to Professional and Enterprise accounts. SAML is supported by many identity provider services, such as Okta, OneLogin, Active Directory, and LDAP. SAML requires a more advanced set up and does not permit you to use custom user fields. For information on configuring SAML single sign-on, see Using SAML for single sign-on (Professional and Enterprise).
You can use the same option for both groups or a different option for each group. This is ideal if you have two separate sets of users, existing in different locations that you do not want to merge. If you use both JWT and SAML, you will need to select one as the primary authentication method. When signing in to Zendesk, users will be redirected to your primary method login page. Users can sign in with the secondary method by going to the second method login page first.