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Duo Single Sign-On for Zendesk

Last Updated: October 11th, 2022

Add two-factor authentication and flexible security policies to Zendesk SAML 2.0 logins with Duo Single-Sign On. Our cloud-hosted SSO identity provider offers inline user enrollment, self-service device management, and support for a variety of authentication methods — such as passkeys and security keys, Duo Push, or Verified Duo Push — in the Universal Prompt.


As business applications move from on-premises to cloud hosted solutions, users experience password fatigue due to disparate logons for different applications. Single sign-on (SSO) technologies seek to unify identities across systems and reduce the number of different credentials a user has to remember or input to gain access to resources.

While SSO is convenient for users, it presents new security challenges. If a user's primary password is compromised, attackers may be able to gain access to multiple resources. In addition, as sensitive information makes its way to cloud-hosted services it is even more important to secure access by implementing two-factor authentication and zero-trust policies.

About Duo Single Sign-On

Duo Single Sign-On is our cloud-hosted SSO product which layers Duo's strong authentication and flexible policy engine on top of Zendesk logins. Duo Single Sign-On acts as an identity provider (IdP), authenticating your users using existing on-premises Active Directory (AD) or another SSO IdP. Duo SSO prompts users for two-factor authentication and performs endpoint assessment and verification before permitting access to Zendesk.

Duo Single Sign-On is available in Duo Premier, Duo Advantage, and Duo Essentials plans, which also include the ability to define policies that enforce unique controls for each individual SSO application. For example, you can require that Salesforce users complete two-factor authentication at every login, but only once every seven days when accessing Zendesk. Duo checks the user, device, and network against an application's policy before allowing access to the application.

Configure Single Sign-On

Before configuring Zendesk with Duo SSO using Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) 2.0 authentication you'll first need to enable Duo Single Sign-On for your Duo account and configure a working authentication source.

Once you have your SSO authentication source working, continue to the next step of creating the Zendesk application in Duo.

Create the Zendesk Application in Duo

  1. Log on to the Duo Admin Panel and navigate to Applications.

  2. Click Protect an Application and locate the entry for Zendesk with a protection type of "2FA with SSO hosted by Duo (Single Sign-On)" in the applications list. Click Protect to the far-right to start configuring Zendesk. See Protecting Applications for more information about protecting applications in Duo and additional application options. You'll need the information on the Zendesk page under Metadata later.

  3. Enter the subdomain used when logging into your company's Zendesk portal as the Zendesk Subdomain. For example, if your Zendesk login URL is then enter yourdomain.

  4. Leave Entity ID with HTTPS selected next to "Zendesk Entity ID Style". If you see an "Issuer in message received" error when verifying SSO, return to this page and select Entity ID without HTTPS and follow the instructions to save the application again.

  5. Zendesk uses the Mail attribute, First name attribute, and Last name attribute when authenticating. We've mapped the bridge attributes to Duo Single Sign-On supported authentication source attributes as follows:

    Bridge Attribute Active Directory SAML IdP
    <Email Address> mail Email
    <First Name> givenName FirstName
    <Last Name> sn LastName

    If you are using non-standard attributes for your authentication source, check the Custom attributes box and enter the name of the attributes you wish to use instead.

    Duo Zendesk Application Settings
  6. You can adjust additional settings for your new SAML application at this time — like changing the application's name from the default value, enabling self-service, or assigning a group policy.

  7. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Save button. Leave this page open as you'll need this information later.

Duo Universal Prompt

The Duo Universal Prompt provides a simplified and accessible Duo login experience for web-based applications, offering a redesigned visual interface with security and usability enhancements.

Universal Prompt Traditional Prompt
 Duo Push in Universal Prompt  Duo Push in Traditional Prompt

We've already updated the Duo Zendesk application hosted in Duo's service to support the Universal Prompt, so there's no action required on your part to update the application itself. You can activate the Universal Prompt experience for users of new and existing Duo Zendesk applications from the Duo Admin Panel.

Before you activate the Universal Prompt for your application, it's a good idea to read the Universal Prompt Update Guide for more information about the update process and the new login experience for users.

Activate Universal Prompt

Activation of the Universal Prompt is a per-application change. Activating it for one application does not change the login experience for your other Duo applications.

The "Universal Prompt" area of the application details page shows that this application is "Ready to activate", with these activation control options:

  • Show traditional prompt: Your users experience Duo's traditional prompt via redirect when logging in to this application.
  • Show new Universal Prompt: (Default) Your users experience the Universal Prompt via redirect when logging in to this application.

The application's Universal Prompt status shows "Activation complete" here and on the Universal Prompt Update Progress report.

Universal Prompt Info - Universal Prompt Activation Complete

Should you ever want to roll back to the traditional prompt, you can return to this setting and change it back to Show traditional prompt. However, this will still deliver the Duo prompt via redirect, not in an iframe. Keep in mind that support for the traditional Duo prompt ended for the majority of applications in March 2024.

Universal Update Progress

Click the See Update Progress link to view the Universal Prompt Update Progress report. This report shows the update availability and migration progress for all your Duo applications. You can also activate the new prompt experience for multiple supported applications from the report page instead of visiting the individual details pages for each application.

Enable Zendesk SSO

Add the Duo Single Sign-On as a new single sign-on provider for Zendesk.

  1. Log on to your Zendesk admin console ( as an administrator and navigate to Security Settings and then Single sign-on.

  2. On the "Single sign-on" page click the Configure link next to SAML. The page will expand with more options.

  3. Under the "SAML" section check the box next to Enabled.

  4. Copy the SAML SSO URL from the Duo Admin Panel Metadata section and paste it into the Zendesk SAML SSO URL field.


  5. Copy the Certificate Fingerprint from the Duo Admin Panel Certificate Fingerprints section and paste it into the Zendesk Certificate Fingerprint field.

  6. Leave "Remote logout URL" and "IP ranges" fields blank.

  7. After you've entered all the required information click Save.

    Zendesk Single Sign-On Setting Edit
  8. If you'd like your staff members to log in using SSO, click on Staff Members in the left-hand navigation.

    Check the box next to External authentication then check the box next to Single sign-on and click Save.

  9. Repeat step 8 on the End users page if you'd like to enable SSO for end users.

    Enable Zendesk Single Sign-On Setting

Learn more about Zendesk SSO at Zendesk Support.

Verify SSO

You can log on to Zendesk by navigating to your organization’s domain login page e.g. This redirects you to Duo Single Sign-On to begin authentication.

Active Directory Login

With Active Directory as the Duo SSO authentication source, enter the primary username (email address) on the Duo SSO login page and click or tap Next.

Duo Single Sign-On Login

Enter the AD primary password and click or tap Log in to continue.

Duo Single Sign-On Password

Enable Duo Passwordless to log in to Duo SSO backed by Active Directory authentication without entering a password in the future.

SAML Login

With another SAML identity provider as the Duo SSO authentication source, Duo SSO immediately redirects the login attempt to that SAML IdP for primary authentication. Users do not see the Duo SSO primary login screen.

Duo Authentication

Successful verification of your primary credentials by Active Directory or a SAML IdP redirects back to Duo. Complete Duo two-factor authentication when prompted and then you'll return to Zendesk to complete the login process.

Duo Universal Prompt

* Universal Prompt experience shown.

You can also log into Zendesk using Duo Central, our cloud-hosted portal which allows users to access all of their applications in one spot. Link to Zendesk in Duo Central by adding it as an application tile. Once the tile has been added, log into Duo Central and click the tile for IdP-initiated authentication to Zendesk.

If you see a "Issuer in message received" error when authenticating, return to Create the Zendesk Application in Duo and select Entity ID without HTTPS and save the application in the Duo Admin Panel.

Congratulations! Your Zendesk users now authenticate using Duo Single Sign-On.

See the full user login experience, including expired password reset (available for Active Directory authentication sources) in the Duo End User Guide for SSO.

Enforce SSO

Once you've verified that you can log into Zendesk using SSO you can enforce it for all users.

  1. Return to the Staff Members page in the Zendesk admin console and uncheck the box next to Zendesk authentication.

  2. Click Save.

  3. Repeat these steps on the End users page if you'd like to enforce SSO for end users.

Enable Zendesk Single Sign-On Setting

Enable Remembered Devices

To minimize additional Duo two-factor prompts when switching between Zendesk and your other Duo Single Sign-On SAML applications, be sure to apply a shared "Remembered Devices" policy to your SAML applications.


Need some help? Try searching our Knowledge Base articles or Community discussions. For further assistance, contact Support.