Duo Mobile: To approve or deny

University of Hawai‘i students are met with Duo Mobile security while attempting to log in –Nathan Runion

Duo Mobile was implemented system-wide at the University of Hawai‘i last November and has resulted in mixed reviews from UH students, faculty, and staff.

The online security system is meant to protect login data using the latest in advanced encryption. So when logging onto UH Gmail or any university website requiring a login and password such as MyUH or the UH employment website, people have to use the Duo Mobile app to authenticate their identity by having the app send a “push” or by inputting a passcode, which can be received by phone call or directly on the app.

The user will then stay logged in for 24 hours before having to reauthenticate through Duo Mobile.

As malware and phishing are becoming increasingly more advanced, many businesses and colleges around the world use Duo Mobile to secure their data. Together with their partner companies, Duo Mobile has users in more than 80 countries and over 300 educational institutions, including Ivy league universities like Harvard and Yale.

Data breaches happen all the time due to factors such as poor security, lost or stolen media, hacking and even inside jobs. On May 16, 2018, a malware virus infected a server used by Algonquin College in Ontario, Canada. This attack leaked more than 111,000 records.

A security breach in April 2013 leaked the personal information, including social security numbers and bank account numbers, of 2.4 million students, staff and alumni of Maricopa County Community Colleges.

The FBI found the information for sale on an undisclosed website. Up to $7 million is being spent by Maricopa on notifying and credit monitoring services for those affected.

Duo Mobile claims its mission is to make its product as user friendly as possible. However, the product has generated mixed emotions at UH.

“I’m kinda appreciative that we’ve gone through this extra step to make sure that we keep as much as we can of our data secure,” said WCC financial aid manager Dayna Isa.

When asked if the financial aid office has had issues with data security in the past, she said, “Not that I know of, but in this day and age, you just never know.”  

But others question the process involved in using Duo Mobile.

“I understand the value, but it feels like a little bit of an inconvenience.” said WCC student and Gallery ‘Iolani monitor Stephanie Shepard. “I think it’s not necessary.”

WCC student Danielle Springel feels that she’s now leashed to her phone more than ever.

“I think it’s annoying because it binds you to your phone or other electronic device,” she said.

When asked if she’s ever forgotten her device that’s linked to Duo Mobile, she said, “Sometimes I have to do my homework on my personal email because I don’t have my phone on me to access the Duo Push for my UH email.”

Duo Mobile currently has a 3.7 rating on the Google app store. In one review of the app, customer Kolleen Barclay wrote:  “I can’t access any of my undergrad information from abroad because I don’t have access to my U.S. number! Why can’t there be an option to get the code sent to an email? Now I can’t reconnect with my university on the app, I can’t sign in, and I can’t ask the help desk because that would require me to use international calling!”

While some users have had a hard time with the app, another comment on the app store left by Michael Willey stated: “It’s incredibly easy to set up, use and administer. Also in about two years, we’ve had only one outage and that was on Duo’s end, and that lasted for maybe about an hour. Keep up the good work!”

by Nathan Runion, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter