October marks the 20th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, an initiative to promote online-safety awareness and education by highlighting emerging cybersecurity challenges and providing straightforward actionable guidance to create a safe and secure digital world.  

To kick off National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, help keep yourself and Metropolitan State University of Denver systems safe from cyberattacks.

The benefits of multifactor authentication

Multifactor authentication, or MFA, is a security measure that requires anyone logging in to an account to navigate a multistep process to prove their identity. It’s sometimes referred to as two-factor authentication, but some systems allow for more than two steps — hence, multifactor.  

Enabling MFA improves security by creating additional barriers to web accounts and personal information.

How to use MFA

When logging in to a service with MFA enabled: 

  1. Enter your credentials: username/email and password/passphrase.  
  2. Provide additional proof that you are the account owner/user using additional information or a separate device you’re registered with the service. MFA options can include: 
    1. An extra personal-identification number. 
    2. The answer to an extra security question, such as “What’s your favorite pet’s name?” 
    3. Entering a code that was texted to a mobile number or emailed to a different account. 
    4. A biometric identifier such as facial recognition or a fingerprint. 
    5. A unique number or approval request generated by an authenticator app (such as those from Microsoft, Google or Duo). 
    6. A secure token, which is a separate piece of hardware (such as a key fob that holds information) that verifies a person’s identity with a database or system.

MSU Denver’s approach 

At MSU Denver, MFA has been available for all student, faculty and staff NetIDs since 2020, with options to use a personal phone number, physical token or the Microsoft Authenticator app as the second authentication factor.  

IT Services recommendations

The MSU Denver Information Technology Services security team strongly encourages all Roadrunners to enable MFA wherever possible to drastically improve the security of your accounts. 

The Authenticator app is considered the most secure in safeguarding valuable financial or personal information across bank and financial-institution websites, online stores and social-media platforms.  

How to set up MFA or learn more 

For more information on MFA in the MSU Denver technology environment, including instructions on setting up or changing MFA options, please see What is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)? on the ITS Knowledgebase. 

This is the first of a series of articles for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2023. MSU Denver is proud to support the 20th year of this far-reaching online-safety awareness and education initiative, which is co-led by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. For more information about Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2023 and how to participate in a wide variety of activities, visit staysafeonline.org/cybersecurity-awareness-month/.