Duo Two-Factor Authentication to Protect University Accounts

March 19, 2024

What is two-factor authentication?

Two-Factor Authentication, also referred to as 2FA, Multi-Factor Authentication, or MFA, is a secondary form of confirming one’s identity when logging into an account. 

Traditionally, accounts on the internet such as an email account or bank account have been protected only with a password.If a bad actor were to steal or guess a user’s password, they would then have access to that user’s account. They could steal information, change the password to keep the user out, and change data. With two-factor authentication, even if a bad actor were to steal a password, they can’t get into the account without a secondary form of authentication. 

This is where Duo comes in. Duo is the preferred tool for Weber State University’s users to add that second layer of protection. When logging into an account, after typing in a password and hitting submit, a “push” notification is then sent to another device of that user such as a smartphone, tablet or smart watch. The user can then approve or deny the log in. Note: Users can also buy a Duo token fob that can be used in place of a smart device. Once purchased, these fobs will need to be set up at the IT Service Desk.

If a user receives a Duo push but didn’t initiate that prompt, the user can click Deny and then can report the push as fraudulent to the Information Security Office within the app. Any user that receives an unsolicited Duo prompt should immediately change their password within the Password Self-Service application. 

Why two-factor authentication?

Two-factor authentication is becoming the standard for the workplace. Healthcare, banking, and now higher education are just a few of the many industries requiring their employees and users to have a second form of authentication to access accounts. In 2017, Weber State began requiring all faculty and staff to use Duo as a two-factor authenticator. In early 2024, Weber State began requiring Duo for all students. “Two-factor authentication provides a second layer of protection against bad actors or hackers compromising a user account.” says Eric Bennick, WSU’s Information Security Manager. 

Although Duo may seem like an annoying extra step to accessing accounts, it is critical for both businesses and users to lock down accounts and keep data safe. Many other schools in Utah such as the University of Utah, Utah State University and Utah Valley University have already adopted two-factor authentication and are requiring it for faculty and students. 

Use two-factor authentication for personal accounts

Duo is not only used to protect Weber State accounts. Users can also utilize Duo to protect their personal accounts as well. Within the Duo app users can click the + add account button and link accounts such as Facebook and Gmail to two-factor authentication. Many companies such as Google, Microsoft and Meta include their own two-factor authentication processes as well that don’t require a tool like Duo. Many banks, insurance companies, and utility companies include types of two-factor authentication now as well. 

How to get started and Help

To learn how to download and set up Duo, please visit our webpage: weber.edu/duo.

About The Author

Kyle Peterson
IT Learning and Development Specialist

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