The University of Birmingham wanted to implement a centralised two-factor/multi-factor authentication solution to provide an extra layer of security when authenticating to specific University resources, or when authenticating from untrusted network locations.

The challenge

The solution needed to have a professional look and feel as well as providing a simple and refined user experience. It also needed to be easy to implement and have a minimal impact on staff resource from a day-to-day management perspective.
Further, the solution had to be cost effective, work with a combination of hard and soft tokens and must support 5,000 users from day one with the ability to scale up to over 40,000 users in the future depending on the University’s requirements.

The solution

Partnering with SBL, Verisec proposed a solution using the widely deployed Freja product suite, comprising:

  • Resilient pair of Freja ID virtual servers, for authentication services
  • Freja Self-Service Portal, allowing students and university employees to provision and manage their tokens themselves
  • Freja Mobile, a secure, intuitive soft token for smartphones
  • A mixture of token types, including soft tokens on mobile phones and physical tokens

Integrating with various applications allowed the University to deploy 2FA to more users and more applications than ever before. With its broad user base the University loved the ability to easily integrate with applications and directories as well as allowing the flexibility of token choice.

The results

The initial Freja project deployment took a day of onsite consultancy time. Further configuration work was required to fully complete the deployment, but the simplicity of setup and integration meant the solution was ready to be used by the University’s IT personnel after approximately two days of work. This allowed the University to then plan its deployment strategy for ensuring a smooth transition for its vast user base. The ability to work from anywhere, with any device at any time is a must for any organisation wanting to deliver services to its customer base. The Freja 2FA solution allowed the University to expand its current service provision well beyond its predecessor.

The University is now beginning to look at further ways at expanding the service following the successful deployment to allow Freja to act as the single point for authentication and allowing users to use a single secure token method for accessing many applications.

The University has chosen Verisec’s proprietary solution Freja ID that is part of a larger platform of digital trust that provides a secure digital identity for the user. Based on the platform, services that are founded on secure, encrypted and traceable communications can be created. The platform is scalable with the ability to connect a large number of users, which can be very beneficial for the public sector with its many customers. Using Verisec’s platform as a foundation for secure login with strong authentication provides the opportunity to further build on secure messaging, e-signing and many other services.

About University of Birmigham

Birmingham has been challenging and developing great minds for more than a century. Characterised by a tradition of innovation, research at the University has broken new ground, pushed forward the boundaries of knowledge and made an impact on people’s lives. The University continues this tradition and have ambitions for a future that will embed their work and recognition of the Birmingham name on the international stage.

Universities are never complete. They develop as new challenges and opportunities occur. At Birmingham professors and student innovate, push the frontiers of understanding; they ask new research questions and turn theory through experiment into practice – because that’s what great universities do.