Auth0 vs. Cognito: IAM Tool Comparison

    Identity and Access Management (IAM) is an essential part of any enterprise security system, as it forms a critical element of identity management systems that authenticate individuals and allow them to access resources. Enterprises are adopting IAM tools to better secure their environments, especially with broader security strategies built around multifactor authentication.  

    According to Cybersecurity Insiders 2020 IAM report, the key challenges most enterprises face when managing access are lack of automation (43%), lack of skilled staff (41%), not utilizing available technologies (33%), password management and authentication (31%) and detection and mitigation of insider threats (negligent, malicious, and compromised users) (30%).

    It is important to ensure your organization has an effective IAM solution. There are many tools available to help manage user permissions. We’ll look at two popular options, Auth0 and Cognito. 

    Benefits of IAM Tools

    IAM tools simplify management and cut down on human error by ensuring every person accessing your application has been vetted in advance. The following are the major benefits of IAM tools.

    • Unify user access to all applications and resources, irrespective of their location and architecture. 
    • Provide secure access to critical enterprise applications and information through a single sign-on solution that utilizes federated identity technologies such as Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS), OpenID Connect, or SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language), among others. 
    • Enable users to securely access cloud applications without remembering new usernames and passwords for each one. 
    • Ensure compliance with regulatory requirements including PCI DSS, HIPAA/HITECH, GLBA/Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX) and FISMA by enforcing strong password policies on all accounts. 
    • Enable mobile workers with BYOD devices while maintaining security standards across your organization’s various systems and platforms. 
    • Increase employee productivity by removing administrative overhead from IT staff. 
    • Reduce IT costs associated with managing multiple user directories. 
    • Protect against data breaches caused by compromised credentials. 
    • Reduce help desk calls related to forgotten passwords. 
    • Simplify provisioning processes for new employees and contractors.

    Auth0 vs. Cognito: What are the Differences?

    IAM allows companies to securely control and manage their users’ identities and access permissions throughout the entire business process, from onboarding to logout. Both Cognito and Auth0 offer IAM functionality in their authentication systems, allowing your applications to integrate with their API to retrieve user information and add or revoke permissions without much effort on your part. But which of these two platforms is right for you? 

    What is Auth0?

    Screenshot Auth0

    Auth0 is a cloud-based identity management platform for developers that provides authentication and authorization capabilities for any application. The service allows developers to manage user identities through APIs or syncing data from existing user databases, including on-premises databases. Auth0’s product offerings include Single Sign-On (SSO), multifactor authentication (MFA), enterprise federation, Application Programming Interface (API) security, and passwordless experiences.

    screenshot of Auth0 MFA

    Key Differentiators

    Auth0 is a cloud-based authentication service that allows developers to create, manage, and secure APIs. Its key features include:

    • Universal login: The ability to authenticate users with many different providers’ apps. Universal login orchestrates single sign-on (SSO) between multiple apps. 
    • User management: This feature enables you to add new users through your application without going through an external provider’s interface. 
    • Multifactor authentication: This feature provides an extra layer of security by requiring a second factor of authentication in addition to username and password for logging into your account from unknown devices or browsers. 
    • Passwordless login: This feature enables end-users to log in using just their smartphone as their identity instead of using passwords or usernames/passwords + tokens. 
    • Role-based access control (RBAC): This feature gives you granular control over which resources each user can access and what they can do with those resources within your application. 
    • API token management and auditing: This feature enables you to securely grant third-party applications access to your API while maintaining full control over how they use it. 
    • Single Sign-On (SSO): Auth0 SSO enables users to log in once and utilize all apps with authorized access to them. 
    • Machine to Machine: This feature facilitates communication between machines such as servers, databases, IoT devices, etc. 
    • Actions: Auth0 provides serverless development tools with high extensibility that are simple to modify and customize. Businesses can swiftly address complicated identification issues by empowering developers. 

    Auth0 Pricing

    Auth0 offers several pricing models for different categories of users. Auth0 uses a price sliding scale to determine your rates. The rates listed below for B2B and B2C are base rates for 1000 applications. Pricing for the B2E is available on the Okta website.

    Business-to-Business (B2B)Business-to-Customer (B2C)
    $23 per month for essential plan$240 per month for the essential plan
    $240 per month for professional plan$800 per month for the professional plan
    Contact Auth0 team for the enterprise plan quotes for enterprise quotesContact Auth0 team for detail quote for the enterprise quotes

    Also read: IAM Software: Auth0 vs. Okta

    What is Cognito?

    screenshot of Amazon Cognito

    Amazon Cognito is a user identity and authentication service that makes it easy to securely manage users and access control capabilities to your mobile and web applications. With Cognito, you can use standard AWS IAM roles to manage access control in your application. You can also create custom roles with fine-grained permissions for specific groups of users or individual users. Additionally, you can integrate with social identity providers to add social login capabilities to your app.

    Key Differentiators

    • Cognito user pool: Amazon Cognito user pools provide a secure and scalable identity repository that can manage millions of users. User Pools store profiles and facilitate authentication for users who sign up directly or through federated accounts with social or business identity providers.
    • User interface: Cognito has a built-in and fully customizable user sign-up and sign-in interface. You can integrate Amazon Cognito sign-up and sign-in pages into your applications using the Android, iOS, and JavaScript SDKs.
    • Advanced security: Cognito’s advanced security features provide risk-based adaptive authentication and protection from the use of compromised credentials. 
    • Identity provider attributes: Cognito allows you to use identity provider attributes in AWS Identity and Access Management permission policies to control resource access to users who meet specific attribute conditions.
    • Standards-based authentication: Amazon Cognito uses industry-standard identity management protocols such as OpenID Connect, OAuth 2.0, and SAML 2.0. 
    • Adaptive authentication: Adaptive authentication for Amazon Cognito apps helps secure user accounts and the user experience by assigning a risk score to unusual sign-in behavior. Users may confirm their identities via SMS or a time-based one-time password (TOTP) generator.

    Cognito Pricing

    Amazon Cognito offers a free tier of 50,000 monthly active users (MAUs) to Cognito user pools, 50 MAUs for users federated through SAML 2.0 based identity providers. However, the free tier pricing isn’t available for both the user pool feature and SAML or OIDC federation in the AWS GovCloud regions.

    Other pricing details include:

    Pricing Tier (MAUs)Price per MAU
    50,001-100,000 (after the 50,000 free tier)$0.0055
    Next 900,000$0.0046
    Next 9,000,000$0.00325
    Greater than 10,000,000$0.0025
    For users who sign in through SAML or OIDC federation. (Above the 50 MAU free tier)$0.015

    Features Comparison

    Product FeaturesAuth0Amazon Cognito
    DeploymentSaaS, iPhone, iPad and AndroidSaaS
    Pricing optionsFree plan, free trial subscription, and quote-basedFree trial, subscription and quote-based
    Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM)YesYes
    Identity ManagementYesYes
    AuthenticationRisk-based authenticationAdaptive authentication
    User provisioning and governanceYesNo
    Compliance ManagementYesYes

    Auth0 vs. Cognito: Which Tool is Right for You?

    If you’re looking for a robust and scalable identity solution, both Auth0 and Cognito could be great options to consider. If you have an existing application that requires authentication and are looking for a quick way to implement it, then Auth0 might be the right choice. On the other hand, if you are on a budget and looking for a cost-saving IAM tool, Cognito might be cheaper than Auth0.

    However, as outlined above, both tools have their unique benefits. If you’re still not sure what solution is best for your project, there are several factors you should consider to make a more informed decision, such as contacting Auth0 and the Cognito team for a product demo. If either of these solutions sounds like they could work for your application, evaluate how they can help you achieve your business goals before making a final decision.

    Read next: Best Identity Access Management (IAM) Solutions & Tools 2022

    Aminu Abdullahi
    Aminu Abdullahi
    Aminu Abdullahi is an award-winning public speaker and a passionate writer. He writes to edutain (educate + entertain) his reader about business, technology, growth, and everything in-between. He is the co-author of the e-book, The Ultimate Creativity Playbook. Aminu loves to inspire greatness in the people around him through his actions and inactions.

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