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Protecting your online identity

On January 18th, 2019, news organizations began reporting on the following headline:

The Biggest Data Breach of All Time: 773 Million Email Addresses and 21 Million Passwords Exposed

Security breaches due to compromised user accounts is becoming a daily occurrence. When accounts are compromised, they can be used to gain access to personal information and/or restricted College information. Organizations are constantly looking for ways to strengthen their security to prevent this. One method commonly being used is Multi-Factor-Authentication (MFA).

What is MFA (Multi-Factor-Authentication)?
Simply put, MFA adds an additional service or factor to the authentication process to validate the identity of the user before gaining access to online applications and systems. Typically, it is based on what the user knows (their password), AND what the user has (their smart phone or a key fob that randomly generates a number on a small display screen).

Why do we care & what does it mean to me?
Security breaches can not only expose individual’s private and personal information that can be used for a number of nefarious activities, but can also put the College at significant reputational risk, as well as financial risk.

IT is currently working on an initiative to implement MFA for faculty and staff to further protect our systems and data. As we move forward with this initiative, we will be looking to provide each user with a means to generate and display a random number (key) so they can use that to authenticate beyond just ID and password. It is early still, so the exact details are still being tested and refined. Our goal is to start rolling out MFA to faculty and staff for selected systems by the fall of 2019.

Higher education is not immune to security breaches. We all have a responsibility to safeguard the data and systems that we use every day in our teaching, learning, research and administrative functions at the College.

David Cresswell, CIO

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