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2-Factor Authentication: Should my district adopt this data security measure?

Many districts are adopting a 2-factor authentication process.  Why?

We all know what cybersecurity means.  Today, passwords for sensitive data is just not enough.  To avoid legal penalties and protect their districts’ privacy, education data managers must make data privacy a priority.  There are federal and state data protection policies administrators must follow that to protect student data privacy.  A strong strategy for cybersecurity will always include implementing two-factor authentication for all users.

What is two-factor authentication?

With two-factor authentication, users must provide one token, which is typically a PIN or password, then provide a second token for authentication. The most common methods of authentication are emailed codes, texted codes, biometrics, or a device ID or application.

Authentication factors can fall into five categories. In order of frequency of use for computing, they include:

  • Knowledge factors (for example, a password)
  • Possession factors (for example, a security token or smartphone)
  • Inherence factors (or biometric factor)
  • Location factors
  • Time factors

Is two-factor authentication enough?

Two-factor authentication alone is not enough for a school’s cybersecurity. It must be combined with other strategies, including data encryption, data destruction, regular reviews of permissions, internal best practices for both storing and accessing data, staff training, and third-party due diligence via security audits. Without two-factor authentication in place, your school runs the risk of making sensitive data available. This could put you in violation of federal and state data protection policies. It will also hurt your reputation and could pose a safety risk by exposing key information about the school or individual students.

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