Two-Factor Authentication

An extra layer of security for your university accounts

What is two-factor authentication?

Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your University accounts.  Verifying your identity using a second factor (such as phones or mobile devices) prevents anyone but you from accessing your accounts, even if your password is stolen [1].

How does it work?

Once two-factor authentication is set up, logging into supported services will prompt further verification.  This could be as simple as accepting a notification from your phone or entering a PIN from a text or phone call.

Black and white computer icon with the number one in the centreBlack and white phone icon with key that has the numer two in the centreBlack and white check mark icon with the number three in the centre

1. Enter your password

2. Use your password to verify your identity

3. You're securely logged on

Who can use two-factor authentication?

Anyone with WatIAM credentials can use two-factor authentication.  This includes:

  • Students (undergraduate, graduate)
  • Alumni
  • Faculty and staff
  • Retirees
  • Guests

How do I enroll for two-factor authentication?

It takes less than five minutes to set up an account for two-factor authentication.  You can enroll by following the instructions in the Two-Factor authentication enrollment video (with DUO) or by following the instructions under the Two-Factor Authentication Enrollment Guide.

Why should I use two-factor authentication?

Passwords are becoming increasingly easier to compromise.  They can often be stolen, guessed, or hacked and can result in unsecure accounts.  Others can access your accounts without your knowledge.  You could even be locked out of your own accounts!

Two-factor authentication adds a second layer of security, keeping your account secure even if your password isn't.  If someone tries to log in to one of your accounts, you will be alerted immediately.

Am I required to have two-factor authentication enabled?

Two-factor authentication is currently optional for everyone.  However, Information Systems and technology (IST) have recently kicked-off a project to facilitate the implementation of two-factor authentication across campus.  In the near future, it may be required in order to use some systems.

Supported services

Signing up for two-factor authentication protects your accounts for all supported services.  The following services are currently supported by two-factor authentication (with more coming in the future):

  • Office 365 Web Portal
  • Outlook Web Application (OWA)
  • Quest student banking (off campus)

Support for two-factor authentication

For additional information about two-factor authentication, visit Duo’s Guide to Two-Factor Authentication or visit the official Waterloo Two-factor Authentication site.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding two-factor authentication, please contact any of the following services:


[1] “Two-Factor Authentication.” Information Systems & Technology, 3 Jan. 2019,