Senior staff at the University of Oxford will soon be able to access the institution’s academic network remotely using a two-factor authentication system from Cryptocard.

According to the University, 400 out of 1,000 staff, chosen by seniority across admin departments, will be earmarked to receive a key-chain token capable of generating a one-time six-digit passcode managed through Cryptocard’s Crypto-mas service.

The pay-off will be more flexible working practices for staff without the hassle of having to take a potentially complex technology inhouse. Apart from the physical tokens handed to staff, the system is managed entirely off-site.

“The benefits of Crypto-mas are substantial as it allows staff to securely access the system if they have to stay at home for any reason, or need to carry out system testing out of hours. Remote working is now regarded as a core element of the IT architecture,” said Oxford University’s head of financial reporting, Ben Heath.

Until now, the University’s remote access plan has been through a conventional VPN with individual passwords, which restricted access to a smaller population of staff for security reasons.

“The level of confidential information housed in universities can make them prime targets for hackers and it is encouraging that the University of Oxford recognises the need for two-factor authentication for its networks,” said Cryptocard’s president and CEO, Neil Hollister.

“With university IT budgets coming under severe pressure, all educational institutions require security solutions that are both affordable and easy to use,” he added.

When the tokens will be rolled out to the 400 staff was not detailed, nor whether other staff, including the wider population of academic staff might benefit from the remote access on offer in the future. Speculatively, tight budgets could make this a hard sell.