National Cyber Security Awareness Month: Get to know two-factor authentication

In honor of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), I thought it would be helpful to explain three key Wayne State University technology systems that help protect the network and the privacy of employees and students. You may have seen my earlier post on the Virtual Private Network (VPN) — keep an eye out later this month for the final post on secure Wi-Fi!

The second technology I’d like to discuss is two-factor authentication (2FA).

If you have used any WSU self service portals in the past year, you’ve probably encountered 2FA. The question, then, is what exactly is it?

Two-factor authentication adds a second level of verification to an account login by requiring additional proof of identity. When you are entering only a username and password, you are using single factor authentication.

The second factor can be…

  • Something you know: An extra password, PIN or pattern.
  • Something you have: An ATM card, fob or your phone.
  • Something you are: Biometrics like a fingerprint, voice print, iris or facial detection.

Wayne State’s 2FA system uses your phone.

How to use 2FA at WSU

When you log in to a WSU system secured with 2FA, you will be presented with a page that looks like this:

You will be given three options for a second factor of authentication.

  1. Call Me: This option will initiate an automated call to your phone. Upon answering, you will be prompted to push any button on your phone to authenticate.
  2. Enter a Passcode: If you choose this method, you will be sent a text message with a numerical code that you then enter in the blank field on your screen to authenticate.
  3. Send Me a Push: To go this route, you need to download the Duo Mobile app on your iOS or Android smartphone. This choice will send you a push notification that you may quickly authenticate with.

If you choose to authenticate with a call or text, you will be encouraged to download the app.

Once you’ve installed the app, click the button I have Duo Mobile installed to proceed to this screen:

Open the app on your phone, aim the camera at the QR code on your screen, and you’ll be connected to WSU. Click the Continue button once you have finished. You’ll then be asked to sign in to the account and a push notification will be sent to your phone; approve it and you will be connected to the WSU system you are trying to access.

After this first set up, you will be able to use the push notification method whenever you want.

2FA beyond WSU

Privacy is an ever-growing concern and Wayne State is not the only place using two-factor authentication to protect information. More and more sites are using 2FA. Google has an authenticator that can be set up for a number of services, Facebook has several 2FA options, as has Twitter. Check your personal email and social media accounts to activate two-factor authentication and stay in charge of your own data.

2 Replies to “National Cyber Security Awareness Month: Get to know two-factor authentication”

  1. Can I activate 2FA on WSU resources that do not currently use 2FA? For example, can I activate 2FA for my WSU email or for Blackboard?

    Thanks.

    Rick

    1. Rick,
      I’m glad that you are interested in making your connections more secure.

      I talked to one of Chief Information Security Officer about this. Currently, we do not have 2FA programmed to integrate into those systems. He did offer this:

      “It could be programmed into the Academica process if there was enough demand, however. Also, our current 2FA license is restricted to employees only, so students would not be able to take advantage of it yet.”

      If people reading this would like 2FA integrated into the Academica sign-in, comment on here or send me an email at mjbarnes@wayne.edu

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