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New cyber authentication on campus

With online security a vital issue, a new multi-factor authentication process is being introduced.


By: Olivia Mackenzie Smith



Photograph: "Show me the way of hacking" by Alexandre Dulaunoy is licensed under CC BY-SA 2



In recent weeks, while trying to access their Microsoft accounts, students have been asked to log in again and authenticate themselves on their devices. This comes as universities, businesses are increasingly using MFA (multi-factor authentication) to protect their Office 365 accounts.


The process involves login and authentication via the Microsoft Authenticator app — the method recommended by the university IT department — a code texted to your phone, or a phone call.


The process is being introduced to combat cyber-crime such as hacking or phishing by creating an extra layer of security for potential attackers to get through.


Figures released by Microsoft show that of the 1.2 million accounts breached in January 2020, 99.9% did not have MFA, creating a strong argument for its introduction.

When asked about the threat of student accounts being breached and how far MFA can go in remedying this issue, a spokesperson for the University of Aberdeen’s IT department said it was committed to protecting students, staff and university operations from “malicious cyber-attacks”, which is why it rolled out multi-factor authentication (MFA) across the University.


“MFA is an everyday technology used by banks and other organisations to protect their customers. It has been adopted by a number of universities as part of their cybersecurity measures”, said the spokesperson.


The Gaudie reported in July 2020 on a major cyber-attack on the University which compromised names, addresses, degrees and financial details of some alumni.


Many university students have also grown accustomed to regular phishing attempts by would-be hackers.

Although breach of online security is a danger for students, it can be prevented by strong password protection and a security system with multiple layers, along with Microsoft’s new multi-factor authentication process.


Any difficulties encountered or questions can be answered on the IT account security page, the FAQ on the authenticator app, or by contacting the IT service desk at servicedesk@abdn.ac.uk.



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