Written by Helen Strickland // Photo by Morgan Pickering
Harding has begun to implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) for Pipeline, Harding’s information system. MFA is a security measure meant to provide more advanced protection of an individual’s data.
According to Mike Chalenburg, Harding’s CIO and vice president of information systems and technology, MFA uses a fact students know — a password — and pairs it with an item students have — a cell phone. Chalenburg said the purpose of MFA at Harding is to increase security for personal and University data.
Harding’s first step to implementing MFA is requiring students to set it up on their own. An email sent to students Sept. 17 about MFA provided three avenues by which students can opt in: the library computer lab (open 4-6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays), the DormNet help desk or following instructions provided in a PDF. The deadline for opting-in is Oct. 17. After this date, MFA will be phased into student Pipeline accounts.
Lora Fleener, director of student support and communication at Harding, said the University hopes to finish this phasing process by the end of this semester. Chalenburg supported this, adding “we want to do it in a way that has the least impact to things like assignments or registration where you need to log in to your Harding account.”
“Students can help us out by setting it up before they are required to,” Fleener said.
MFA will not apply to the testing lab in the same way. According to Chalenburg, the testing lab uses an alternative form of MFA. The testing lab login requires a student photo and a Pipeline password, so students will not need their phones to verify their identities.
For freshmen, the process of implementing MFA has been in place since August. Freshman Lindsey Triplett shared her experience using MFA.
“I have not enjoyed using MFA this semester,” Triplett said. “In the previous times I have used MFA, I have been able to change the settings that I only get asked about every two months, but that has not been made available to the students this year.”
Triplett suggested an improvement for MFA.
“While I understand the importance of MFA, I hope that in the future we will have the option to only use it every couple weeks or so rather than having to enter multiple times some days,” Triplett said.
Senior Amelia Kretzer, a DormNet employee, said she has been overwhelmed by the number of students needing help with MFA, but she sees a payoff. She said she considers this a small step that can add significant protection to students’ data.
“I have had MFA on my own account since last spring, and it works so well that I barely notice when I am required to authenticate,” Kretzer said. “I have appreciated it streamlining the login process on my personal devices, since it allows you to remain logged in for around a week before requiring authentication again.”
Instructions and FAQs for MFA can be found on DormNet’s webpage at www. harding.edu/dormnet.