Tag: Casey Thompson

Using Multifactor Authentication To Keep District Data Safe

Casey Thompson

By Casey Thompson, digital media manager, Skyward, Inc.

Let’s be honest: Two-factor authentication (2FA) can feel like a pain. Now, security experts are pushing for districts to adopt multi-factor authentication (MFA)–multi-factor, as in more than two factors?

You may already hear the chorus of complaints. Do we really need this?

But here’s the thing: With malware attacks rising, authentication systems using two or more factors are the best way for districts to keep accounts from being hacked, and there are ways to make the process less painful.

While MFA and 2FA will always be seen as a pain by significant segments of your constituency, the good news is the process can be fairly painless (especially since often, MFA only needs to happen every once in awhile to ensure the user is who they claim to be). Beyond that, the goal is to have them see and understand it as a very important pain.

And thankfully, there are ways to do that.

What is MFA (and by extension, 2FA)?

MFA is a process that uses multiple sources to verify someone’s identity, usually online, usually so that person can access an organization’s platforms, tools, or email or data servers.

2FA is an incredibly common subset of MFA and has become the norm for many technologies.

MFA is a step up in security from 2FA, which requires you to establish your identity in two ways before allowing you access.

However, both are tested ways of reducing the risk of security breaches within your district.

How do they work?

According to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), all MFA processes require you to supply a combination of these identifiers when logging into your accounts:

Something you know

Usually, “something you know” is simply a user ID and password, though it can be a PIN or an answer to a question only you are likely to know.

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Beware These 5 Data Security Threats During Remote Learning

By Casey Thompson, digital media manager, Skyward, Inc.

Casey Thompson

Hackers take advantage of the worst-case scenario.

Pandemics, terrorism, and natural disasters bring disruption and distractions, perfect opportunities for people to infiltrate lowered security while our attention is directed elsewhere. Here are five data security bases to cover during your pandemic response.

Network security

While it’s true our home wireless networks are under more stress than ever before, don’t sacrifice security for convenience. These network breaches are some of the easiest for hackers to pull off.

No public Wi-Fi: The biggest risk to networks comes from unsecured Wi-Fi connections in public places, like restaurants. Ideally, choose password protected Wi-Fi from a home network. This option may be out of reach for some—even free internet offers for students are falling short in some cases, requiring families’ unpaid bills to be settled before the option is extended to the student. Other secure options may include a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.

Internet of things: Disconnect devices that don’t require Wi-Fi to function (appliances, etc). Even if Wi-Fi helps them function more conveniently, consider disconnecting them temporarily to minimize the opportunities to infiltrate your network.

Multi-factor authentication: More organizations are moving toward MFA in all cases, but particularly for remote work, ensure the devices connecting to the network belong to actual people within your organization.

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