GPSA members, pictured here at a meeting, heard presentations about two-factor login authentication and the Graduate and Professional Community Initiative.

Yisu Zheng / Sun Staff Photographer

GPSA members, pictured here at a meeting, heard presentations about two-factor login authentication and the Graduate and Professional Community Initiative.

October 16, 2018

University Details New Student Center Login Authentication Process

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The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly hosted a presentation on the upcoming two-factor login authentication policy and on the Graduate and Professional Community Initiative Monday evening.

Starting Nov. 26, Student Center and Student Essentials will require students to use two-factor login authentication. The University will use Duo, its own brand of two-factor login authentication. Students will need to register another device, such as a smartphone or tablet, and download the Duo application to log into Student Center and Student Essentials. Students approve the login via the registered device.

Tom Horton, interim chief information security officer, said Nov. 26 was chosen because it follows the add-drop period, so “there shouldn’t be mandatory transactions.”

Horton said that, with Duo, the University is “protecting your data from unauthorized access,” emphasizing the sensitive data found on Student Center, such as financial data and social security numbers.

In the last fiscal year, 2,590 student passwords were compromised, accounting for 35 percent of total password compromises, according to a PowerPoint presentation made by IT@Cornell. With Duo, the University hopes to reduce the number of password compromises, and with two-factor login authentication, “it’s much harder for someone to use stolen or harvested credentials,” Horton said.

Horton described that, in exchange for security, there is the “mildly annoying” aspect of needing to have a device with you at all times in order to log into Student Center or Student Essentials and needing to complete an extra step to access these resources.

Rebecca Harrison ’14 grad, arts and humanities representative, voiced concern over added stress to undergraduate pre-enroll.

“Course enroll is a really stressful process because Student Center is often impossible to log into — how is [two-factor login authentication] going to complicate that?” Harrison asked.

To circumvent having to use two-factor login authentication every time you use Student Center or Student Essentials, Horton suggested using the 24-hour “remember me” feature which allows students to login once and avoid having to use two-factor login authentication for 24 hours.

Additionally, Horton mentioned Duo is “one of the industry’s leaders” and should have no issue handling spikes during heavy usage, such as during pre-enroll.

Horton described USB hardware tokens that individuals can insert into their computers and that act as a physical button, so they do not need to use an external device. Prices for the tokens range from $9 to $25. Horton additionally recommended that individuals register more than one device with Duo in case they lose access to their primary authentication device.

Additionally, Horton recommends students begin to opt in to two-factor login authentication to familiarize themselves with the process. By opting in, it “gives you an idea of what it will be like to use two-factor authentication,” Horton said. Students can then opt-out until Nov. 26.

For students who do not have access to another device, the University Registrar will investigate situations on a case-by-case basis, Horton said.

Alexa Cohn grad, GPSA vice president of communications, spoke about the 2018 revision to the Graduate and Professional Student initiative.

The GPCI is “a strategic plan created by GPSA to identify and address issues related to graduate and professional student life,” according to the GPCI web page.

Cohn called on the entire graduate and professional student community to contribute to the revision of the GPCI, with mandatory participation from voting GPSA members. Participation could range from chairing an area of focus to speaking to relevant staff about specific initiatives.

Cohn explained the difference between a resolution and the GPCI. “Resolutions outline deficiencies and current issues” and “investigate,” whereas the GPCI offers “potential aims or objectives” to solve the issues, Cohn said.

The GPCI has previously spearheaded the renovation of the Big Red Barn Graduate and Professional Student Center, childcare grants for graduate and professional students and English support for international students. Ekarina Winarto grad, GPSA president, was a tutor for this initiative.

Unlike the 2013 GPCI, this year’s GPCI will have 10 areas of focus instead of eight, with “Diversity” and “International” students becoming independent and an “Assistantship” area of focus being created. Cohn stressed the need for a new “Career Resources” chair.

The importance of the different career paths between graduate and professional students should be kept in mind, said Matthew Battaglia ’16 grad, chair of the University Assembly.

Cohn said the GPCI was proposed to the Board of Trustees in 2007, but shelved due to the financial crisis. It was “revisited” in 2012, and in 2013, the first GPCI was written.