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Duo Single Sign-On for Zendesk

Last Updated: December 4th, 2020

Add two-factor authentication and flexible security policies to Zendesk SSO logins with Duo Single-Sign On, our cloud-hosted SAML 2.0 identity provider, complete with inline self-service enrollment and Duo Prompt.

Duo Federal customers or those looking for an on-premises SSO solution: try Duo Protection for Zendesk with Duo Access Gateway.


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.

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 using the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) 2.0 authentication standard. Duo Single Sign-On acts as an identity provider (IdP), authenticating your users using existing on-premises Active Directory (AD) or any SAML 2.0 IdP and prompting for two-factor authentication before permitting access to Zendesk.

Duo Single Sign-On is available in Duo Beyond, Duo Access, and Duo MFA 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 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.

Duo Universal Prompt

Duo's next-generation authentication experience, the Universal Prompt, is coming to web-based applications that display the current Duo Prompt in browsers.

Migration to Universal Prompt for your Zendesk application is a two-step process:

  • Duo updates the Zendesk application to support the Universal Prompt.
  • You activate the Universal Prompt experience for users of that Duo Zendesk application (when the Universal Prompt becomes available).

We've already updated the Duo Zendesk application hosted in Duo's service to support the Universal Prompt when it's ready, so there's no action required on your part to update the application. The "Universal Prompt" section of this application's details page in the Admin Panel reflects this status today as "Waiting on Duo".

Universal Prompt Info - Application Updated

Activate Universal Prompt

When the Universal Prompt becomes available, you'll return here to activate it for users of this application. The status will change to "New Prompt Ready", and you'll see the control here for turning it on or off. Until then, your users continue to experience the current Duo prompt.

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 in-scope for Universal Prompt support.

Read the Universal Prompt Update Guide for more information about the update process to support the new prompt, and watch the Duo Blog for future updates about the Duo Universal Prompt.

Universal Prompt Private Preview

If you're interested in participating in a private preview of the Universal Prompt experience, please apply using this form.

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 using your organization’s domain login page e.g. This redirects to the Duo Single Sign-On login page. Enter your primary directory logon information, approve Duo two-factor authentication, and get redirected back to the Zendesk site after authenticating.

Duo Single Sign-On Login and Authentication Prompt

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 Zendesk.

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

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.

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.