I have been fobbed.
We’re in the middle of yet another huge transition down on Home Campus, one that started last fall and likely won’t be completed for a couple years yet, at least not fully. This is not to be confused with the huge transition that started three years prior to that and was likely to be completed sometime next year but got pre-empted by the current huge transition, or the decade or so of institutional nonsense that was visited upon us by our elected overlords prior to that.
One crisis at a time, people.
The current transition is actually going surprisingly well, all things considered, at least for us. We kind of lucked out with our partners, and I think that it’s moving forward about as well as it could have thanks to a great many people putting in immense amounts of work, so as far as that goes I’m not unhappy with things.
The details can be odd, though.
One of the details is that as this transition moves forward, people with my particular set of job responsibilities will need Multi-Factor Authorization in order to access the various systems that we need to carry out those responsibilities. I am sure that this makes sense from an IT perspective, but I have to say from my perspective it’s just so much jargon and nonsense.
This is why I’m not in IT.
Last week we got a multi-page instruction email regarding the whys and whatfors of MFA (which I can never remember actually stands for Multi-Factor Authorization so in my head it always comes out as either Mother [Fornicating] Access or Master of Fine Arts). We were supposed to go through it and then sign the back page to indicate that we had “read and understood” what was in it.
I wrote to my boss: “Is one out of two enough to sign? I’ve read it twice, but I can’t really say I’ve understood a word of it.”
She said that was enough, so I signed.
Yesterday we had a meeting with the IT folks from the new Mother Ship and they went through the MFA process with us. The bottom line is that we have to log in with two different things – first, the User ID and 600-character password that we have to memorize (including at least 17 capitals, 43 non-alphabetical symbols, 12 numbers [three written out, four numeric, and the rest up to you as a free choice so long as at least one of them is 3-digits long], two Disney characters, one Marvel or DC character [your choice], and the first name of the romantic interest from the last book you read [if there isn’t such an interest in the book, pick the character who should have been]), and second, a one-time code that we have to generate ourselves.
There are two ways to generate this code, one of which involves me downloading an app to my phone which means that the chance of that happening is exactly nil. I don’t like apps. I find them intrusive, exasperating, and generally detrimental to the quality of my life, and the idea of adding a work app to my personal phone just rubs me the wrong way entirely. Plus, if you ever have to do anything with your phone you have to redo the entire setup process with the app from square one. So that’ll be a hard pass, thanks.
The other way is to have a separate gizmo called a fob, which will generate a code at the push of a button. You can then enter the code in the space provided (provided there is a space) and then – finally – be able to do your job.
How the fob knows what code the computer will accept at that moment was skipped over lightly during this training. I can only assume that there is some form of sorcery involved. The one thing I know about magic is that power has to come from somewhere, and I am kind of hoping that it involves some form of sacrifice of objectionable people whom I get to choose. This would be an extra incentive to get my work done and rechecked, and that would be good management.
They don’t want us to store the fob next to the computer we use, as that would sort of defeat the purpose of all this whiz-bang MFA security, kind of like requiring a 600-character password that nobody can remember so they put it on a post-it note and stick it to the monitor (just saying). So I’ve got this thing on my keyring, where it takes up far too much space.
I don’t even have access to the systems that I would need the fob to generate codes for yet. That side of the bureaucracy is somewhat lagging, which is probably my fault for not getting the paperwork in quickly enough earlier this semester (see above, re: “read and understand”) but there it is.
It’s been that kind of month, really.