Duo Mobile: Keeping You Safe Since 2022
With another somewhat unconventional school year coming to an end, Columbia’s administration has once again demonstrated its impressive ability to respond to critical issues faced by students. Along with such serious problems as the academic recovery from COVID-19 and the Graduate Student Workers strike, the university tackled an essential component of student safety and welfare… cybersecurity. With positive Covid cases at a high earlier this semester and some students still sporting pending grades on their transcripts from last term, the admin wisely decided that the best course to combat potential, theoretical, and hypothetical hacking that could possibly one day occur was to act fast and act smart. Luckily, the Duo Mobile app was readily available for Columbia’s crackdown on this central issue plaguing its students––their lack of access to a Multi-Factor Authentication system. For those not familiar with Multi-Factor Authentication (colloquially referred to as MFA), it is widely considered to be the not at all unnecessary or redundant requirement of entering an additional password or confirming your login, both of which are only possible via a secondary device, every time you want to log in to any of your Columbia accounts.
Duo’s technology is truly innovative and, more importantly, offers some peace of mind to the countless students who were wrought with anxiety over identity theft. It is so innovative in fact that you now need a mobile device in addition to your computer in order to log in to Canvas or your university email. Essentially, what used to be able to be done with one electronic device now requires two. Ever have a really time sensitive assignment to submit or an urgent email to send? You will have to wait just a little longer when signing in to find your phone, look for the Duo Mobile app, refresh the ever-changing password, type it into your computer, and watch the green screen mock you. But hey, patience is a virtue, and it’s all worth the sense of security Duo provides students.
Actually student testimonials all include very positive reports of the new service. One student mentioned that in an attempt to limit his distractions while working on an assignment, he left his phone in his apartment and went to the library. However, upon logging in to Canvas, the ever persistent green Duo screen floated before his eyes, and without his phone he had no means to log in to his account. The student reassured me that, though an incident like this seems like it would have been infuriating, it actually allowed him a nice exercise break to run to his apartment and retrieve his phone, only wasting about twenty minutes of time. Not a large sacrifice at all, considering the benefits Duo offers Columbia students. Another student remarked that after she was prompted to set up a Duo account, which she did, she found the system a little bit tiring and set up a CUIT appointment to learn about possibly opting out of the program. After the CUIT employee informed her that she was not in fact allowed to disable her Duo account, as it was irreversible, she admitted that at least Columbia’s consistency and stringency on the issue of cybersecurity was commendable.
It’s obvious that, as usual, the university is only looking for ways to improve students’ lives in small, impactful ways. So what if when Duo requires you to pull out your smartphone for that secondary password you will probably spend extra time on your phone afterwards instead of doing work? You deserve the break. And so what if it is rated two out of five stars on the App Store? You can't always trust what you see online. One online user titles their review “Endless cycle of frustration” and adds that “the Duo Mobile app is realistically one of the largest stressors I have experienced in my life.” I have been using Duo all semester and can attest that there is little truth to the sentiment. Another user labels their review “My school forced me to use this,” assuring us: “no one cares about me enough to try to hack me anyway” Clearly, another misguided under-appreciative loser. . Anyone not engaging with Duo on a regular basis is wholly missing out. Indeed, they’re missing out on their school assignments and critical email correspondences.
Listen up Columbia. If you are part of the very few students who do not closely read the CUIT emails and perhaps send most or all of them to junk, you might want to recover February 24th’s message about Columbia’s requirement for all its students to set up Duo MFA by March 1st. If you don’t yet know the warm security of Duo’s ever protective embrace, sign up imminently. Anyway, it’s only a matter of time before you’re going to be locked out of your accounts.
//RAQUEL SILVERA is a Sophomore in Barnard College studying English Literature and a Senior Editor for The Current. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.