Duo Security protects us

Photo courtesy of ITSS

Photo courtesy of ITSS

Passwords. Passwords. Passwords. I have so many stored in my head right now. Against my mother's advice, none have been written down.

This article could not be read by you right now if it weren't for a series of passwords. I had to enter two passwords to write this article and another two just to post it on the Barks website and Facebook page.

Every online service we use today is guarded by a password. We keep important information online, which is easy and simple, yet requires added responsibility.

Now, the University of Minnesota’s Information Technology Systems and Services department plans to add another step to get into MyU. They have started to implement Duo push, a service by Duo Security. This app is an online technology security service that adds on an additional step to your password. It works like this: after you type in your username and password, you will also have to send a push notification from your laptop to your phone. Then you go to the Duo Security app on your phone and you accept the login. For a video click here.

Duo is already used by large corporations like Facebook, Etsy, Zillow and other academic institutions, such as the University of Michigan, Syracuse University, and Villanova to protect their server users.

Starting in November 2018 students have started to be required to use Duo Push. It’s part of ITSS’s transition to have all students use the additional security. Over the next 12 months they plan to have everyone on board. If you haven’t been required to use Duo yet, just wait. You will at your yearly password reset.  

Some students have already been required to use Duo Security and they are upset. Some of the common complaints is that it takes too much effort just to log onto MyU.

The complicity of Duo Security is what has most students complaining about it. According to a poll conducted on The Bark’s Facebook asking what UMD students thought about Duo Security, 45 students answered, “It’s too complicated.” On the poll, only seven student’s answered “It’s easy to use.”

Illustration by Karli Kruse

Illustration by Karli Kruse

However despite the complicity, protecting your MyU information is important.

According to Jason Davis, the UMD ITSS director, “a main reason the University made this decision was that people had lost their tax returns, student loan money, their paychecks and their financial aid.”

“Many of these accounts were compromised from a phishing incident,” Davis said.

Once hackers have access to your contacts, they can send them all phishing scams. This is what happened in February 2017 around tax season when emails were sent out across campus that appeared to be sent by President Kaler. The legitimacy of the emails allowed students and staff to feel comfortable clicking on a link and sharing their account information.

“Student’s MyU accounts are a place where you have student loan money, financial aid or work study and you may have something else on file that you paid student bills with,” Davis said. “The fear is that someone could have access to that if they had your credentials.”

According to Davis, phishing scams happen often.

“There have been constant phishing scams going on,” Davis said. “It goes on constantly.”

With Duo Security, MyU accounts become more secure.

“Duo puts one more barrier in front of people trying to compromise your account,” Davis said. “This is definitely an improvement in security.”

I’ll admit that requiring 16 characters for a password is long, but really, most browsers have the option to remember your password and username. All you’ll have to do is click sign in then take out your phone.

People shouldn't complain about having to do one more step, it may have you take out your phone, but really does it take that long? People carry around their phones constantly already. It's a great privilege to have this technology and a secure one at that. Having to do one more step is time consuming but worth it.

Being around so much technology has made us desire fast service. According to a New York Times article written in 1997 titled, Technology Makes Us Faster, Addicted To Speed, the desire for fast is shown in the media we watch in theatres and on television. Films have been shot faster and faster, meant to keep people in their seats. Commercials and ads sprint by us making our attention spans lower and thus impatient.

To do research, older generations used to have to go to the library and open up books. It took time and patience to do work. Now, all we have to do is type our questions into Google. We have incredible, fast power at our benefit. And we use it, and store lots of personal information online, but I think we take advantage of it.

We expect everything to be fast and brought to us instantly. We are on the cusps of drones giving us same day delivery. We hate it when a Youtube video takes a little too long to load. We even have dating apps that bring us relationships on the fly. I’m not prosecuting anyone I do the same things, but I’m urging you to reflect on what technology brings you and to have some patience.

We should recognize the power we have and realize there are dangers that can access this information if we aren't properly secured. Like the wise Uncle Ben said to the young Peter Parker (quoting Voltaire) in the OG Spiderman movie: “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

For more on phishing scams and how to identify them visit here. 

VoicesJakob Bermas