Two Factor Authentication FAQ

What is a Second Factor?

Answer: Two Factor Authentication is a method of confirming a user's identity by requiring the user to present two pieces of evidence ("factors") to an authentication mechanism. In our system, the first factor is a password (something the user knows), while the second factor is a token generated by software on the user's mobile device (something the user possesses).

What do I need in order to obtain a second factor token?

Answer: In order to obtain a second factor token, you will need a mobile device with a camera. On that mobile device, you will then need to install Google Authenticator (or another QR code reader application that implements the Time-based One Time Password algorithm) on your mobile device. See also Setting Up Two-Factor Authentication.

Can I use an SSH key pair as an alternative second factor?

Answer: We do not support SSH keys as a second factor and we have no plans to implement SSH key-based authentication. Only time-based codes are currently valid.

I have a new mobile device. How do I transfer my old second factor onto my new device?

Answer: There is currently no easy way to transfer your old second factor onto a new device. You will have to request a new second factor (see below).

How do I get a new Second Factor?

Answer: To get a new second factor, email our support team. Once we have validated your request, we will delete your old token from our database. You will then be able to browse to My NeSI and use the "Link your mobile device" button to add a new second factor to your device, you can find instructions on setting up your second factor here. Note that you will also have to reset your password which you find instructions for here.

Can I use the same Second Factor again?

Answer: No. You can only use each Second Factor code once and must then wait for a new Second Factor to cycle. Attempting to use the same Second Factor will cause your Authentication to fail.

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