Campus News

UW-Madison requires new authentication software for students to log in

UW-Madison rolled out a new Multi-Factor Authentication Software Monday in an attempt to eliminate the numerous hacking issues the university has faced.

Image By: Will Cioci

UW-Madison rolled out a new Multi-Factor Authentication Software Monday in an attempt to eliminate the numerous hacking issues the university has faced.

Causing backlash among students, MFA-Duo requires you to identify yourself a second time, either on the Duo Mobile App or on a physical keychain called a “token.” 

“Personally, I understand the frustrations that students, faculty, and staff have with the Duo MFA system, but I believe that the system is absolutely essential,” said an anonymous student working closely with the project. 

An email from Provost Karl Scholz was sent out early Monday morning containing minimal details regarding the new system. This left many students distraught from being logged out of their accounts for class on Monday morning. 

“I wish there was more information than just getting a notification that I have to sign up for something that I have no idea what it was,” said Isabelle Bavis, a UW-Madison sophomore and WSUM student employee.

In 2018, 4,946 MyUW accounts were hacked, leading to minor backlashes such as phishing and spam emails. Yet, more serious hacks led to personal information leaked, including tuition statements or bank account numbers. 

“This [MFA-Duo] will dramatically decrease — if not completely eliminate — compromised accounts at UW-Madison,” the anonymous student said. 

UW-Madison is the only Big Ten school that, until this past Sunday, did not require a secondary security measure for students and staff members to log into school accounts. 

“By implementing Duo MFA, UW-Madison is taking steps to bring its level of security up to the level of its peers,” the anonymous student said. 

Students are required to register for MFA-Duo by October 31, so the system would be prepared by exam season. 

However, many students faced problems when forced to register immediately, resulting in consequently being logged out of their accounts until accomplished. 

At this time, only student employees with the university have experienced difficulties with being forced to download MFA-Duo prior to the rest of the student population, putting them at a disadvantage. 

“I was annoyed, I was in class and I was supposed to do an assignment and it took me an extra ten minutes to set it up, so I was behind everybody else,” Bavis said.

Although most students were initially frustrated with the MFA-Duo, some realized it actually serves a purpose.

“The overall benefits that the Duo MFA system provides outweigh the potential inconveniences by a large margin,” the anonymous student said.

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