The Why’s and How’s of Multi-Factor Authentication

November 17, 2023

The university requires all employees to use multi-factor authentication (MFA) –– an online security step that helps prevent unauthorized access to university systems.

We recommend using Duo Mobile on your smartphone because it’s free, secure, and simple to use. Duo Mobile creates no data on your device.

Have questions or want to learn more about MFA? Please visit  OIT’s MFA page

What is Multi-Factor Authentication?

MFA is a form of security that protects an account with two layers of authentication. The first layer is a password, something that you know. The second factor is something that you physically have, such as a device. For example, a bank account uses MFA for security by requiring both a PIN and a debit card.

How does it work?

After you enroll in MFA, when you log in to any MFA-protected website or service, you will enter your username and password (something you know) as you do today, and then use your smartphone or another device (something you have) to verify your identity.

Why do I need MFA?

MFA prevents others from signing in as you, even if they know your password. It protects you and the University of Alaska from the risks of phishing scams and other forms of password theft.

Users’ passwords have been compromised by many different methods: guessing, hacking, watching you type the password, capturing the password on a computer with malware installed that records keystrokes, capturing passwords sent over a compromised network connection, capturing cached passwords on servers receiving passwords. Even the most careful user cannot be certain their password is never compromised by one or more of these attacks.

Manage your MFA-registered devices

You can manage your registered device(s) at any time, including:

  • Adding a phone or other device as a backup in case your primary phone is unavailable
  • Changing your primary device to receive notifications
  • Changing your notification type
  • Reactivating the Duo Mobile app on your device

Learn more about managing your device(s).

Set-Up MFA

If you have not already done so, here are the steps for enabling Duo Mobile MFA: 

Log in to ELMO, select Security Settings and choose the Multi-factor Authentication option.

  • Enable MFA
  • Once multi-factor authentication is enabled for your account, your first access to one of the relying services (UA Blackboard, Google Workspace @ UA, UAonline, DegreeWorks, OU Campus, MyUA,  etc.) triggers a login screen requesting your UA Username and UA Password.
  • You will be presented with a page to automatically enroll and register the device(s) you will use for multi-factor authentication.   

Enroll your device(s)

Learn more about Authenticating with the Duo Prompt

The Office of Information and Technology has put together a helpful website to answer any questions you may have about MFA.