Stepping Up to Better Security at UC Berkeley

Bear using a computer

By Jeremy Rosenberg. UC Berkeley recently completed a whirlwind project to enroll all 25,000 staff and faculty into its 2-Step verification program (and even managed to pick up 6,000 students along the way).

To meet the aggressive schedule set by the CIO and the chancellor, the Berkeley Identity and Access Management team – aka CalNet – blanketed the campus from February 15 to April 16 with posters, drop-in sessions, ambassador outreach, and the offer of prizes.

Splitting up staff and faculty into cohorts reduced help desk calls

All staff and faculty were split into two cohorts to make the workload more manageable. The first cohort started seeing a message on login pages on February 15, warning they had one month to self-enroll. On March 15, any stragglers were enrolled automatically. Out of 10,000 people who started the month without 2-Step enabled, only 32 needed to contact the service desk on the day it was made mandatory.

Cohort 2 went even more smoothly. Overall, less than 5% of users needed to open a ticket to get help, and many of them just wanted to know how to enter to win a free iPad. (They had to enroll in 2-Step verification first to access the entry form.)

Great planning and effective outreach paved the way

The Berkeley team credits its success to careful planning and outreach. They used the central IT group as a test case and learned important lessons about how best to reach every last person before causing disruption. They customized the central campus login page to provide inline warnings to people during the month before their due date. They leveraged powerful local group management tools and Google Groups integration to generate department specific mail lists that updated automatically as people enroll. So only those members of a department who had not yet self enrolled received reminders.

But most of all, they engaged the community. 2-Step ambassadors throughout campus joined weekly update calls and helped organize drop-in sessions at key locations. This dedicated team’s monumental effort has resulted in a substantial reduction in campus risk going forward. Plans are now underway to require 2-Step verification for students. But if the staff and faculty rollout is any indication, all of Berkeley should be 2-Stepping in no time.

Jeremy RosenbergJeremy Rosenberg is manager, Identity and Access, UC Berkeley.


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