Students divided over Okta, but it’s here to stay – and could get even stricter

Problems with Okta continued to frustrate students right into the exam period.

By EDWARD BOURKE

Monash University say they remain committed to the strict new online authentication system introduced midway through the semester, despite continued hostility from some students.

Measures to protect students’ privacy were more likely to be increased than relaxed in the future, a statement from the Monash Media team said. 

“Monash takes the security and privacy of your personal information seriously,” the statement read.

“We are committed to continuously strengthening the systems and processes we use to ensure the highest levels of security.

“By moving our authentication system to Okta, we are better able to implement new security features as they become available to add even more layers of security to your Monash account.”

San Francisco-based Okta Inc has received a barrage of angry reviews on their mobile security verification app, which is a crucial element of the new multi-factor authentication process.

Okta’s technology is used by several other Australian organisations including News Corp, Toyota and Flinders University.

Many frustrated students have been drawn to Monash StalkerSpace and other online forums to complain about difficulties logging in to the Moodle and my.monash servers.

Global studies student Harry Long attempts to log into Moodle on his laptop. PIcture: Ed Bourke

 

Second-year global studies student Harry Long said he found the new system “completely unnecessary”.

“I had to submit an assignment maybe three or four days after it [Okta] came in, but obviously I couldn’t get into Moodle quick enough to check the parameters like double spacing,” he said.

“I sort of had to guess what the requirements were, which was a major inconvenience.”

Mr Long said he was not concerned about protecting his personal information available on Moodle.

“I don’t really care about Moodle privacy, the only thing I’d be worried about is someone submitting an assignment on my behalf,” he said.

Despite the frosty reception among Monash students, Okta’s Corporate Communications Senior Manager SY Lee said the company had a “big future” in data protection.

“A lot of our customers are looking for a good identity solution, because they have so many people with credentials that need to be managed,” Mr Lee said.

They need a way to do that very securely, and that’s what we can help them achieve and enable.”

Mr Lee said data protection was vital for Monash students given the personal information stored online.

Complaints from Monash students flooded the Okta app.

“You’re sharing a lot of information in some of these app … if you’re a student you’re going to be sharing your financial information with the university,” he said.

Sometimes you are going to share your personal information like your date of birth, address, card details … so that all needs to be done very securely, and that’s what we’re able to do.”

Medicine student Jack Davidson said navigating through the authentication process should become “fairly simple for people down the track”.

“It was frustrating having to download the app, which took a bit of time at Monash because the wifi can be pretty disappointing sometimes,” Mr Davidson said.

“But now I just log in as I normally would, I don’t have to get my phone out anymore because you can just click the ‘remember me’ button and you never have to do it again,” he said.

“Maybe if I had to use a different device it would be frustrating, but if I’m using my laptop all the time, it doesn’t inconvenience me at all.”