Campus-wide shift to duo two-factor authentication will take place next year



Jackie Richardson ‘21 | Associate Editor

Smith recently announced that student, faculty and staff will need to use Duo Two-factor Authentication (2FA) to log into Bannerweb, Moodle, Smith’s Gmail, Smith’s Portal and all other websites that require Smith credentials. For students, this requirement will take effect Jan. 31, 2019; for faculty and staff, it will take effect March 13, though everyone may enroll now.

When using 2FA to log in, a user will use their username and password, like normal. Then, they’ll be prompted to be sent a push notification using the Duo mobile app (this is the recommended method), to be called or to be texted a passcode. You can use a smartphone, tablet, cell phone or (“in a pinch,” said the FAQs) a landline. At the Smith College Computer Store, you may also purchase a Universal Two-Factor (U2F) Key, a small USB device that you plug in to authenticate Duo.

Students have pointed out the drawbacks of Duo 2FA. For example, people who want to work without the distraction of their phone can’t do so anymore; it is inconvenient for people without phones or for people who don’t otherwise have ready access to a second device. One student said that they “hated it with a burning passion.” Another student pointed out that many classrooms don’t have reception, and this can derail presentations when someone has to log in to get to their presentation but can’t get a push notification on their phone. However, Isabel Aries ’20, who has already implemented 2FA, said that “it’s a simple, quick process that isn’t an inconvenience… it really has not made that much of an impact on my life.”

Although Duo 2FA can seem inconvenient, it does attempt to solve a real security problem. According to the ITS’ FAQs, “on average, 20 Smith user accounts are compromised each month, often through phishing or web surfing.” Once someone has access to your account, they have access to private information and may try to send phishing emails to your contacts. For more information on 2FA or help setting up, you can visit the IT Service Center in Stoddard Hall 203 or the Seelye Basement Service Desk.

Sophian Smith