Multi-Factor Authentication for emails begins

By Erica Aguinaga
Staff Writer

Entering a room without being seen sounds like the work of a magician, however, breaking into an email server without leaving a trace can only be the doing of a hacker. Much like a magician, hackers have the ability to manipulate a person’s mind and access information for their own benefit. Ironically, their tricks are not meant to benefit people.

Earlier this year, the computer systems of three distant colleges were breached by hackers. Grinnell College, Hamilton College and Oberlin College suffered significant damage to their admission files.

“In higher education facilities have been targeted over the summer,” Sebastian Barron, director of computer services, said. “Louisiana declared a state of emergency a week before school started, because of a cyber attack, four school districts shut down because they were trying to reimage 20,000 computers.”

While nothing this serious has happened at Northeast Texas Community College, the campus has experienced issues with compromised accounts and commissioned and phishing scams.

On Sept. 9 Computer Services introduced a dual email verification system that will aid in preventing unauthorized users from accessing personal accounts. Currently the dual authentication system is optional but beginning Oct. 16 the process will be mandatory.

“One of the main reasons we implemented this is because 90 percent of any kind of hack begins with a fake email,” Barron said. “By implementing this process we can eliminate that 90 percent and dramatically increase security.”

This dual email verification or, Multi-Factor Authentication, will require students to verify their log in attempt by using a code sent to their cell phones. By doing so, MFA will block external emails. Therefore, using the college email service is suggested.

Since the MFA implementation, students will be asked to register their phone number when they sign in to their email. A verification code will then be sent to their cell phone to complete the MFA setup.  Additionally, a code will be sent to students’ phones every time they attempt to log in to their email accounts. However, the validation can be saved on the device for up to 60 days. Students without a cell phone number can email Computer Services for an optional authorization.

Systems Administrator Adam Bise said that the MFA process will help provide added security. Bise said when an account is compromised computer services has to disable access to the student’s email, therefore, limiting access which has a bad effect on the student.

Contact Computer Services at 903-434-8140 or send an email to ithelp@ntcc.edu.

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