Two-Step Protection for Email Coming Soon
To dramatically improve Stanford email security, two-step authentication protection will be added to Office 365 email this year. Beginning in February, accounts will be transitioned in groups over the course of six months. Once you are opted in, you will be prompted for two-step a single time per device. After this initial prompt, all future access from the device is protected.
While most university services are protected by our two-step authentication system, email access is not yet fully protected. Consequently, in addition to potentially exposing sensitive email, commandeered accounts are often used to send large volumes of messages that compromise additional accounts and systems, damage Stanford’s reputation, and trigger other organizations to block email from Stanford.
Who is affected by the change
This change affects students, faculty, and staff at Stanford who use Office 365 through an email client on their laptop, desktop, or mobile device.
Web-based access to your Office 365 email via webmail.stanford.edu will not be affected, as it is already protected by the university’s two-step authentication system.
Stanford will add this security enhancement to Google Mail later in the year and will notify Stanford Google Mail users at that time.
When and how you will be affected
University IT (UIT) will notify you via email several days in advance with guidance on preparing for the transition. Notifications will begin in February and account transitions will be completed by October 2020.
The transition procedure may limit your access to email for up to an hour, but web-based access via webmail.stanford.edu will not be impacted.
How the change affects you depends on how your devices are configured. To implement the change on email applications installed on your computing devices (e.g, Outlook, Apple Mail, Thunderbird), your email configuration may need to be updated. If your email client is already configured for modern authentication, you will not notice any change when your account is updated. If you have difficulty accessing your email after the change, you will need to manually reconfigure your email. Configuration instructions are available on the Office 365 Configuration Instructions webpage. If reconfiguration does not resolve the problem, please submit a Help request.
Here’s what to expect if you access your email on your mobile device, laptop, or desktop:
- iOS: If your iOS device is enrolled in Stanford's Mobile Device Management (MDM) (also called AirWatch) and meets the minimum system requirements, this change should happen automatically within an hour of the time that is specified in your notification. If your iOS device is not enrolled in MDM, and you have an issue with your email after the time the change is scheduled, you may need to reconfigure your email manually.
- Android: Whether or not your Android device is enrolled in MDM, if you have an issue with your email after the time that is specified in your notification, you may need to reconfigure your email manually.
- Laptops, desktops, and VDIs:
- If you use Windows, in most cases this change should happen automatically within an hour of the time that is specified in your notification.
- If you use macOS and you purchased your device within the last two years, in most cases this change should happen automatically within an hour of the time that is specified in the notification.
- If you use Linux and you have difficulty accessing your email after the transition time that is specified in your notification, you may need to reconfigure your email manually.
How to prepare for the change
The best way to prepare for this change is to ensure that your devices are updated with the latest operating systems. Preparation instructions, including ensuring that your devices meet the necessary requirements, are available on the Modern Email Authentication webpage and will be included in the email notification sent to you before the transition is initiated.
While the change to your account is in progress, UIT recommends accessing your email and calendar via the web-based interface webmail.stanford.edu. Webmail will be fully accessible throughout the change.
Why this change is happening now
Over the past two years, large software companies including Apple, Microsoft, and Google have committed to strengthening email account security. To that end, they updated their applications and operating systems to support modern authentication methods for checking email, including two-step authentication. This year, they have begun requiring two-step logins to their online email services.
How to get help
You can also learn more about the change on the Modern Email Authentication FAQs webpage.