Winter is Coming and so is Two-factor Authentication

Christine C. Fitzgerald
Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - 2:15pm

With winter around the corner, I'm sure you are preparing to stay warm with a winter coat and boots, aren't you? You wouldn't just wear the boots and not the coat or vice versa, as you wouldn't effectively stay warm!

Much like protecting yourself from the cold in winter, you also need to protect your identity and your data with a double layer of protection.

That is why Tufts will be implementing two-factor authentication (2FA) later this winter!

What is two-factor authentication (2FA)?

Two-factor authentication (or two-step verification) adds a second level (or layer) of authentication to an account login.

Right now, you enter only your Tufts username and password to access your accounts and systems at Tufts. This is considered single-factor authentication. 2FA requires you to have two of the following three types of credentials in order to access an account:

  1. Something you know (username and password, PIN)
  2. Something you have (phone, ATM card, or fob)
  3. Something you are (your fingerprint or voice prompt)

Why is Tufts implementing 2FA?

Over the past 5 years, Tufts has made significant improvements in access provisioning, authentication management, and addressing traditional risks associated with passwords.

We are at a point where we need additional protection for user logins (usernames and passwords). Our digital identities are being aggressively targeted, and these stolen logins are being used within days and sometimes minutes. The hackers seek to log in to employee HR systems like eServe in order to redirect paychecks to a different bank or to download W2 info for identity theft. We also need protection from phishing emails and login stealing malware that result in stolen email accounts used to spam others or to gain access to make unapproved wire-transfers and/or facilitate logging in to sensitive applications.

Enter 2FA. Tufts is working to change how we verify user identity by using 2FA instead of just a user ID and password. You may not realize it, but many of you are familiar with 2FA as you probably use it to access your online bank account or other accounts in your personal life.

Want to learn more?
Tufts Technology Services (TTS) has been conducting road shows to educate the community about what 2FA is and why it is important. This outreach will continue through the next couple of months as we prepare our systems and interfaces to implement 2FA later this winter.

In the meantime, you can learn more about 2FA by watching this video.