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FAQ for VPN & MFA


What is MFA?

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a method to confirm that "you are who you say you are" when accessing a system, using something other than your password to authenticate you. Your password is generally the first factor, and this "other thing" becomes the second factor.  Using both makes it "multi-factor".  In addition to passwords, "factors" can include:

  • "something you know" (for example, your mother's maiden name), 
  • "something you have" (like your phone or a "token"), 
  • or "something you are" (i.e. biometrics, which the University does not currently use).  

MFA is used for the Central Authentication System (CAS) as well as certain Groups on the VPN system.   As a result, you may encounter the MFA prompt multiple times (for example, if you log-in to both Gmail and the VPN). 

What is VPN?

Virtual Private Networking (VPN) is a tool that encrypts data as they travel from a system to your computer, and back. Data are only sent to you after you have confirmed that "you are who you say you are."  This is why MFA is required first, in order to access the VPN system. As noted above, MFA is not only required for the VPN system.  Even if you have logged-in to the VPN, you may encounter the MFA prompt again when logging-in to Gmail and other campus systems.  Links to download the VPN client are located below.

How do I get the Cisco AnyConnect VPN tool?

VPN Tips

  • Once connected to the VPN, your connection should hold for at least 24 hours unless you turn off your computer or put it to sleep. 
  • To make access to Tableau and other systems more convenient, consider logging-in to the VPN as part of your morning routine when you log-in to your computer.

More Resources

 These links repeat some information that is summarized in the previous sections.
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