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Securing Northwestern Email: Implementation

Welcome to the Securing Northwestern Email project implementation page. Here you will find information to prepare you for implementation of the project's included security updates and details about the implementation schedule.


May 2021: Phase One of the Securing Northwestern Email Project is complete. In collaboration with University schools and administrative units, Northwestern IT has completed the Implementation Timeline for applying the two security updates included in the scope of the project: activating Duo Multi-factor Authentication for Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365 of O365) and decommissioning support for Basic Authentication on Microsoft 365 applications.

What to Expect

Modern Authentication

Most devices and current versions of applications are already configured with Modern Authentication and will not be impacted by the change to decommission Basic Authentication. However, once support for Basic Authentication is decommissioned, some users may be required to update their operating system and/or Exchange-reliant applications to versions that support Modern Authentication. Review the “E-mail and Modern Authentication” knowledge base article on this topic.

Multi-factor Authentication

Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) will be activated, on a rolling basis, on all Northwestern Microsoft 365 applications—including University email, Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, and Excel, among others. The activation process may take up to 24 hours to complete across the suite of applications.

Once MFA is activated on an account, users will need to (re)log-in to their Microsoft 365 applications individually, adding the Duo authentication step for each application. Users may not notice a prompt to (re)log-in to in-use Microsoft applications that they have running in the background on their device, but users will stop receiving notifications on those applications and activity in the application will pause until they do so.

How to Prepare

Prepare for Modern Authentication

  • Most devices are already configured with Modern Authentication and will not notice any impact in access or use of University Outlook email or other Microsoft 365 applications once Basic Authentication is decommissioned.
  • However, those who are using older versions of Outlook, using an email client other than Outlook, or who do not have Outlook installed on their mobile devices, may need to make updates to ensure that they maintain access to University Outlook email and Microsoft 365 applications. For mobile devices, please be aware that operating systems should be current. Also, it might be necessary to install the Outlook app on the device. Please review the E-mail and Modern Authentication guide for a list of devices, update instructions, and tips.
  • In rare instances where Modern Authentication cannot be used for specific devices or applications, Northwestern IT recommends users rely on Northwestern webmail (OWA) for accessing University email.

Prepare for Multi-factor Authentication on Microsoft 365

  • Duo Multi-factor Authentication will work on Outlook email and Microsoft 365 application the same way it does on other secure Northwestern systems.
  • Northwestern IT recommends using the Duo Mobile app to receive a “push” to your mobile device—smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch. This notification option remains the fastest, easiest, and most reliable way to use the service, and is also more cost-effective than using the “Call Me” or “Send me a code” functionality.
  • If you are currently using Duo with any sign-on option other than “push”, you can make a new selection by managing your options under “My settings & Devices” in Duo. Contact the Northwestern IT Service Desk at or 847-491-4357 (1-HELP) if you need support with making a change to the “push” notification type.

Implementation Timeline

Most students, faculty, staff, and affiliates received the Securing Email changes between February and April 2021 via a NetID sequenced deployment. A schedule of when changes were applied is published below.

School/Department Name Implementation Date Status
Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences February - April 2021 Complete
School of Communication February – April 2021 Complete
School of Education & Social Policy February – April 2021 Complete
McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science February – April 2021 Complete
The Graduate School (Staff) December 16, 2020 Complete
Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications February – April 2021 Complete
Northwestern Pritzker School of Law February – April 2021 Complete
Kellogg School of Management (Faculty and Staff) January 2021 Complete
Kellogg School of Management (Students) February – April 2021 Complete
Feinberg School of Medicine February – April 2021 Complete
Bienen School of Music (Faculty and Staff) February – April 2021 Complete
Bienen School of Music (Students) February – April 2021 Complete
School of Professional Studies (Faculty and Staff) January 7 – January 29, 2021 Complete
School of Professional Studies (Students) February – April 2021 Complete
Northwestern in Qatar (Faculty and Staff) January 18 – 20, 2021 Complete
Northwestern in Qatar (Students) Jan 25 - 29, 2021 Complete
Business/Administrative Unit Name Implementation Date Status
Alumni Relations January 11 - January 29, 2021 Complete
Buffett Institute for Global Studies December 17, 2020 Complete
Facilities (Phase 1) December 9, 2020 Complete
Facilities (Phase 2) February - April 2021 Complete
Financial Operations January 11 - January 20, 2021 Complete
Human Resources January 25, 2021 Complete
Northwestern Information Technology August 2020 Complete
Office of Global Marketing and Communications December 17, 2020 Complete
Office of Global Safety and Security December 17, 2020 Complete
Office of International Student and Scholar Services December 17, 2020 Complete
Office of the President January 27, 2021 Complete
Office of the Provost January 20, 2021 Complete
Office for Research February - April 2021 Complete
Student Affairs February - April 2021 Complete
University Athletics February - April 2021 Complete
University Enrollment December 3, 2020 Complete
University Libraries December 7-20, 2020 Complete
University Police February - April 2021 Complete

Support Resources

Troubleshooting and Known Issues