In addition to the user authentication provided by Zendesk, you can also use single sign-on (SSO) to authenticate your users outside of Zendesk. There are three types of SSO: social account, business account, and enterprise.
This article covers the following topics:
Essential facts for SSO
Below are some essential facts about the available SSO options. These are explained in greater detail in this article.
- Admins and agents can sign in with either their Google, Microsoft, or Zendesk accounts, or can sign in directly by going to their Zendesk URL and entering their username and password. End users can sign in with social accounts and their Zendesk accounts.
- If your Zendesk account is closed or restricted, and a user tries to sign in with a different email than the one registered in Zendesk Support, their request will be rejected.
- You can have multiple active SAML and JWT SSO configurations, which can be assigned to different collections of users. Each will have their own remote sign-in pages.
- No matter what authentication method you choose, Zendesk stores all users in the same database.
- 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 you use a custom script for JWT.
- If you place a wildcard (*) in the blocklist, users will no longer be able to authenticate or create an account with SSO. See Using the allowlist and blocklist to control access to your Zendesk.
Social and business account SSO
- Agents and admins can use either Google or Microsoft (Microsoft Entra ID and Office 365) SSO methods to log into their business accounts.
- End users can use X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, Google, and Microsoft SSO methods using their social/personal accounts.
When using business account SSO, it's important to note that the Google sign-in supports both Gmail and Google Workspace.
To add social and business account SSO to your sign-in page, see Enabling social and business account single sign-on.
You can require users to sign in using enterprise SSO, or you can activate multiple sign-in options (for example, enterprise SSO and Zendesk authentication) and let users decide how they want to sign in. (The word "enterprise" in this context doesn't refer to Zendesk Enterprise plans.) See Giving users different ways to sign into Zendesk.
About enterprise SSO
When you direct users to enterprise SSO, you're bypassing Zendesk and authenticating your users externally. When users navigate to your Zendesk sign-in page or click a link to access your Zendesk account, they can authenticate by signing into a corporate server or a third-party identity provider, such as OneLogin or Okta. Enabling enterprise SSO also affects the iOS and Android versions of the Zendesk mobile app.
- Users navigate to a Zendesk page or subdomain.
- If not already authenticated, users are redirected to your corporate server or third-party identity provider sign-in 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 team members can sign in to your Zendesk using enterprise SSO. You can configure enterprise SSO only for end users, team members, or a mix of both.
The advantage of using enterprise SSO 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. Your user management is performed outside of Zendesk, but your corporate user authentication system is still synced with Zendesk. When you add a user account for a new employee, they will have immediate access to Zendesk, or if you delete a user account, that employee will no longer have access to 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.
You have the option of keeping Zendesk authentication with your enterprise SSO authentication. If you decide to turn off Zendesk authentication, all Zendesk user passwords will be permanently deleted within 24 hours.
If your SSO service is temporarily unavailable, you can still access your Zendesk account. See Accessing your Zendesk account when your SSO service is down.
Enterprise SSO options
- JSON Web Token (JWT): Credentials and user information is sent in JSON format encrypted using a Zendesk Shared Secret. For information on configuring JWT SSO, see Enabling JWT single sign-on.
- Secure Assertion Markup Language (SAML): SAML is supported by many identity provider services, such as Okta, OneLogin, Active Directory, and LDAP. For information on configuring SAML SSO, see Enabling SAML single sign-on.
You can use the same option for all users or different options for different collections of users. This is ideal if you have separate sets of users in different locations that you don't want to merge. If you use more than one enterprise SSO configuration, you can present users with multiple SSO sign-in options on the Zendesk sign-in page or redirect users to the primary SSO. See Giving users different ways to sign into Zendesk.