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Alabama Campuses Take Steps To Harden Network Password Access

Two Alabama universities have turned to technology from Keeper Security and Duo Security to help users protect access to their computing devices and to help IT stay ahead of potential hacking attempts created by weak password usage.

The IT organizations at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and Auburn University, located a couple of hours from each other, confer on a regular basis. In a recent meeting, the two schools shared their experiences with Duo Security's two-factor authentication technology, which Auburn recently implemented in response to phishing scam activities and related vulnerabilities.

Auburn IT has mandated that by July 2016 all virtual private network users use two-factor authentication, a process that asks individuals for a secondary confirmation of their identity at login, using the physical device in their hands. That could be through an app they run on the device, responding to a text message delivered to a phone, pressing a hardware token device or accepting an automated voice call to a landline or cell phone. On a Web site about the program the university recommends that users run Duo Mobile, an app that it suggested performs speedier authentication than the other mechanisms.

U Alabama Birmingham's School of Medicine is already a user of a mobile app from Duo. Now the IT department at the university is also running a beta trial among faculty and staff of an integration between Duo and Keeper, a program that acts as a vault for maintaining passwords. A new Duo Security feature in Keeper allows IT administrators to monitor login attempts from any user, ensuring that only legitimate users gain access to network resources.

"UAB is committed to protecting its most precious resource: our people," said Curt Carver, CIO and vice president of IT, in a prepared statement. "Keeper integration with Duo is a natural fit for our strategic alignment to improve our security."

Keeper software is also in use by the University of Iowa, Ohio State and U Maryland, among other customers. Duo is in use by Boston U, the University of California Berkeley and Virginia Tech, among others.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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