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Fordham IT Announces Plans to Add Another Layer to Password Protection

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Fordham University

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Fordham IT Announces Plans to Add Another Layer to Password Protection

Nearly one year after implementing a new password protection system, Fordham Information Technologies has unveiled plans to expand their systems.

Brendan O'Connell

2.7.18

Last March, Fordham Information Technologies launched Multi-Factor Authentication to provide an additional layer of security to all password-protected online accounts affiliated with the University.

The new system added a step to the traditional login process, which required those logging on to a Fordham account to enter their username and password. The supplementary step made certain the identity of the user by sending a notification to their smartphone or personal electronic device, which the user had to accept in order to open the portal.

Due to overwhelming praise for the overtly complicated system, Duo Security – the trusted company that runs the MFA system at Fordham and many other higher education institutions – is introducing another component to the login process.


“Fordham students and staff alike have been clamoring for more layers of security when it comes to their private online accounts. People just can’t get enough of this password protection stuff!” said Duo Security Chief of Development Paul Stewart.


“We will be collaborating with Fordham to institute a new, state-of-the-art, never-before-used step in the Multi-Factor Authentication process,” Stewart explained. “This will change the way people protect their passwords forever.”

This groundbreaking expansion is comprised of two parts.

First, users will be required to create a second password, which they will have to enter along with their original password to reach the ensuing portion of MFA. Fordham IT suggests users make their second password something that is even harder to guess. In an email to Fordham community members, IT Communications Director Elizabeth Cornell imparted, “One exciting formula that has surged to the forefront of the password protection industry is as follows: take the name of your first pet and the name of your street address and you have yourself a new, hack-proof password! Capital letters, numerical digits, and punctuation marks could enhance your password security, as well.”

Following the all-new multiple-password step, and along with the mobile device notification system already in place, MFA will now include an obligatory voice recognition step, sure to prevent even the fiercest of hackers.

Cornell, however, reiterated that this voice recognition step is not an opportunity to play around. “The important thing is that users are using their own, natural speaking voices. This is not the time or place for users to practice their celebrity impressions or Satin Dolls audition material, as entertaining as that may be.”

A recent IT email described the voice recognition process in more detail. For starters, the voice recognition software is expected to take up about 10 gigabytes of computer or smartphone storage. As far as the step’s procedure is concerned, the memo states that users must adhere to the numerous parameters, including “stating the following phrase in a clear, articulate manner: ‘I authenticate that this account belongs to me and I accept the University’s online security policy and any consequences that may come of inappropriate or unauthorized account use’.” The tongue-twisting login phrase is drawing criticism from many who cite its convoluted vocabulary and unusual length as unnecessary obstacles for logging in.

Nevertheless, Cornell said Wednesday that it is all part of the effort to prevent online access to unauthorized parties.

With an increase in hacking, phishing, and other nefarious web activity in recent years, Fordham believes that some in the institution’s online community may be at risk of having their accounts compromised to unauthorized users gaining access to important personal data.

Just last month, the National Password Protection Association Database published a study that found that 9 out of 10 university students and 7 out of 8 university professors in America are affected by internet crime each year. Furthermore, in a recent survey conducted by Fordham IT, 68% of Rose Hill students and faculty responded that they or someone they know has been a victim of online hacking, commonly known on campus as “hack attacks”. These alarming statistics are what some believe compelled Fordham to add another layer to their MFA system.

“All my friends and I are constantly paranoid about getting hacked,” admitted sophomore Julia Parker. “Day and night, we are on the alert. Thankfully, Multi-Factor Authentication has eased our worries a bit, and this additional measure is great.”

Some students were even persuaded to attend Fordham because of its approach to online safety. “I feel so secure knowing my online accounts are protected by layer upon layer of password protection,” said freshman Kylie Alvarez, who added that MFA was the determining factor in her college search. “It’s comforting knowing that my school is providing a digital onion of security layers, because that is the quality I wanted most when I was choosing my university!”

On the other side, some students are not such big fans. “I don’t understand the need for it,” junior Frank Irvin tweeted, taking to social media to vent his frustrations with the news. “Two passwords now? I can’t even keep track of one! #MFAstinks”

Even professors are weighing in. Dr. Kenneth Oldman, a Philosophy professor born in the 1940s, said, “I just can’t keep up with all these gadgets and techno mumbo jumbo… I told my class the other day that I’m just not cut out for this era. Everybody texting and doing passwords and the like… Back in my day, we didn’t have passwords to protect or interwebs to surf or clouds that stored data. Clouds were just clouds back then.” An astute point indeed.

In addition to professors like Dr. Oldman, some prominent Fordham leaders are hesitant to fully support the new MFA process – including Father Joseph McShane, S.J., President of Fordham University. “I am not terribly worried about my account being hacked. My goal is to spread the Good News of God, so if someone hacks my account and stumbles across one of the many homilies stored in my Google Drive, then I am actually in favor of hacking. Hack, hack, hack away!”

Time will tell whether the latest step in the Multi-Factor Authentication process prevails or falters, but for now, Director Cornell insists the Fordham community can rest easy knowing their accounts are secure. “At the end of the day, it's all about peace of mind. If an elderly professor here or there can't figure out how to load the PowerPoint they need for that class' lecture, or an apathetic student is indifferent toward our mission, then so be it. Making it as hard as possible for people to log in to a Fordham account is our top priority.”