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New Security Features for Office 365 Apps

Posted Date: 5 Oct 2020

Date: 5 Oct 2020

Northwestern IT is introducing two security changes in the coming months for Outlook University email and all Microsoft Office 365 applications, including Teams, OneDrive, Office, and SharePoint, among others. The changes involve enabling Duo Multi-factor Authentication and decommissioning support for Basic Authentication. Both are part of our ongoing commitment to strengthen the security of accounts and protect University data.

The changes are intended to mitigate the security impact to University data resulting from compromises that might occur through individual account breaches.

Impact on the University Community

The vast majority of users will not notice any impact related to the change to decommission Basic Authentication. Most devices, as well as current versions of mobile applications, are already configured with Modern Authentication. Similarly, the Northwestern community is already familiar with using Duo Multi-factor Authentication on other secure University systems. The service will work the same way for Northwestern Office 365 accounts and applications.

Most importantly, for all community members (including some students) who have Outlook University email, this change means that you will need to access your University email from a device and/or mobile application configured with Modern Authentication. In some cases, that might mean that you will need to install a current version of Outlook on your mobile device. All Outlook account users will also be required to verify their identity through Duo MFA to access University email.

When will the changes occur?

Northwestern IT has conducted a series of pilots to deploy both changes to more than 450 early adopters across the University. Post-pilot surveys show early adopters consistently reported a positive overall experience.

Looking ahead, Northwestern IT is partnering with Technology Leaders across the University to establish an implementation schedule and process for these upcoming changes. In the coming months, Northwestern Office 365 account holders will begin receiving direct communication notifying them of the timeline for their accounts to receive these changes. The project work is expected to conclude by April 2021.

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