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Using Multi-Factor Authentication with Duo

March 23, 2021

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The Importance of Online Security 

Since the onset of the pandemic and our shift to virtual online modalities, there has been a sharp increase in threats and attempts to gain access to the accounts of faculty, staff and students at educational institutions across the country, including at CSUN and other campuses in the CSU.

These increasingly sophisticated and coordinated attacks use frauds and scams to steal passwords and often attempt to gain access to your confidential financial information or use your password to gain unauthorized access to other CSUN systems, including those with faculty research data. 

In its inaugural Information Security Edition, the Horizon Report accentuates the importance that Data Security and Privacy play for Higher Education institutions. "Ask any leaders at a college or university that has been the victim of a major security breach or that has succumbed to a ransomware attack, and they will make it very clear just how high the stakes have become." 

CSUN takes its responsibility to help faculty protect their information online seriously, and we are enhancing our information security with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) using an application called Duo. CSUN is implementing Duo as part of a system-wide initiative and commitment to employ multi-factor authentication at all CSU institutions. 

What is Duo? 

Duo is an app that adds an extra layer of security around online data by requiring “something you know,” your password, along with “something you have,” your smartphone or another device. When you log into your CSUN account, Duo requests to “send a push” with a unique access code to the Duo app on your smartphone, or a call to your phone to access online applications or services. 

How Does Duo Work? 

For example, a faculty member downloads the Duo app to their smartphone from the Google Play or Apple iOS app store. When the faculty member first logs in to a CSUN application each day, such as myNorthridge portal, they are asked for a Duo code in addition to their password. This code can be obtained through the Duo smartphone app, a phone call to a number that they designate, or a hardware token that CSUN will provide. Once the request is authorized using Duo, the faculty member can safely access the online system. 

Duo verified logins will work for up to 12 hours and you only need to re-log in if you elect to change the browser you use or the device you use or are accessing a non-browser-based standalone software application during that 12-hour period. Confirming your identity using Duo only takes a few seconds and will work even when you are off-campus or traveling. Using Duo will not affect your flexibility to use specific software applications while teaching or conducting research.

CSUN employees handling confidential data have already started using Duo and it will be rolled out for all CSUN staff by mid-April. Over the next several months, Duo will be phased in for faculty as well, giving them enough time to enroll in Duo without impacting important end-of-semester activities. Once enrolled, Multi-Factor Authentication using Duo will provide enhanced access security to CSUN applications like Canvas, myNorthridge portal, Zoom, myCSUNbox, and Office 365.

When Should I Start Using Duo?

We encourage you to start using Duo today and protect your data. To get started, visit our CSUN Duo page where you will find videos and answers to Frequently Asked Questions. The IT Help Center is ready to answer any questions you have about Duo, help faculty register, and will provide a dedicated help queue for Duo questions.