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Duo Single Sign-On for Zendesk

Last Updated: June 23rd, 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.


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.

Duo Single Sign-On

Duo Single Sign-On, now in public beta, 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's public beta 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 configure Duo Single Sign-On with a working an authentication source.

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.

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

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.

Microsoft AD FS

Microsoft's Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) is a popular choice for SSO because it easily integrates with the AD identity store many organizations already have deployed. Duo's support for cloud applications and SSO drops in to an existing AD FS installation to provide secondary authentication after a user passes primary authentication (successful Active Directory logon).

If you don't already have AD federation running the first step is to install and configure Microsoft AD FS in your organization. Deployment Guides for AD FS versions 2.1, and 3.0/4.0 are available from Microsoft.

Once your AD FS services are up and running, the second step is to configure the SSO partnership between your AD FS service and the external cloud resource, in this case Zendesk. Learn more about configuring Zendesk SSO with AD FS at the Zendesk Support site.

After you have successfully configured and tested AD FS SSO login to Zendesk using your AD domain credentials, you can then install the Duo AD FS integration. AD FS protection is included with Duo's paid plans.

With the Duo integration for AD FS installed, users pass primary authentication to the AD FS service as usual. Once primary authentication succeeds, users are forwarded to the Duo service for secondary authentication. After approving logon using one of Duo's authentication methods, the user is fully logged in to Zendesk.

Other Identity Partners

Using a third-party SSO provider for cloud application access? Duo partners with leading cloud SSO providers like Okta and OneLogin to secure access with our strong and flexible authentication platform.

You can also use Duo two-factor authentication with CAS and Shibboleth on-premises IdPs.


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