Skip to Main Content

Library Services FAQs

Common questions about the use of the library and its services.

Glossary of helpful terminology around EZproxy and Multi-factor Authentication

Authentication factor 
A method used to process information to authenticate a person's identity for security purposes. 
The product NIT has implemented at Northwestern University to provide Multi-factor Authentication.  
Duo Mobile app 
Smartphone application by DUO to facilitate the second factor of Multi-factor Authentication. There are several options within DUO to verify your identity.  
Duo Push notification 
DUO delivers two-factor push notifications to smartphones for fast and secure verification of identity. A push notification to the Duo Mobile app is the recommended option.
EZproxy is a service that confirms a user is authorized to access a resource before allowing access.  It allows libraries to deliver e-content to users simply, effectively, and securely no matter where or when they are searching. EZproxy was built for libraries by OCLC to protect user privacy. For more information see About EZproxy
At NU this term is often used to refer to how we are controlling access to our electronic resources. It evaluates each request for a resource to determine if WebSSO authentication is required. It proxies the access to the resource for the users. 
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) 
A security protocol that requires users to use more than one authentication mechanism (known as “authentication factors”) from independent categories of credentials to verify the user’s identity for a login or other transaction.
The three basic authentication factors used in MFA are:
Something the user knows, such as a password, pass phrase, or PIN.
Something the user has; this can be a physical or logical security token, including a one-time passcode (OTP) token, a key fob, an employee access card, or a phone’s SIM card.
Something the user is; this refers to biometric identification such as retina scans, fingerprints, or voice authentication.
The principle of MFA is that there is no perfect authentication factor. Any one implemented factor has its strength and weaknesses. The concept of multi-factor authentication is that a second or third factor will compensate for the weakness of the other factor/s and vice-versa.
Online Passport
This is Northwestern University’s branding for its WebSSO service. To see what the new Online Passport experience looks like, see New Online Passport Login Experience.
Remember Me
An option in NIT’s implementation of MFA which will bypass the need to use Multi-factor Authentication for subsequent logins to access electronic resources for a period of 30 days. You will still need to authenticate using your NetID via Online Passport (WebSSO) password for each login. 
Although this feature works most of the time, it occasionally requires a new verification, as it relies on web cookies of a particular type. To understand how the "remember me" feature works, please visit the IT Knowledge Base.
Two-factor authentication (2FA)
Sometimes referred to as two-step verification or dual-factor authentication, two-factor authentication is a security process in which users provide two different authentication factors to verify themselves. This process is done to better protect both the user's credentials and the resources the user can access. Two-factor authentication provides a higher level of security than authentication methods that depend on single-factor authentication (SFA), in which the user provides only one factor -- typically, a password or passcode.  
Web Single Sign-On (Web SSO) 
A system that allows a single username (NetID) and password to be used to access different web applications. For the user, WebSSO systems help to create what is called a federated identity. Federated identity management benefits both the user and the application provider.