About the Harvard Authentication System

Harvard's authentication system makes up the tool set you use every day to help you get access to your Harvard information technology resources, including the PIN System and its successor, HarvardKey.

The Harvard University Authentication System is managed by the Identity and Access Management (IAM) program at Harvard. The IAM program is a strategic initiative of Harvard University Information Technology. The IAM project management team helps with operations and end-user support.

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to contact us by emailing iam@harvard.edu.

History of the Harvard Authentication System

The Harvard University Authentication System was developed in 1999 in order to provide a central location where people could go to log in to Harvard-affiliated websites and applications. By providing a centralized service, Harvard is able to maintain greater control over online accounts and provide higher security for its online population. At the same time, a centralized service relieves Harvard website and application administrators of the burden of managing user accounts.

At the end of 2001, the automatic login feature was introduced in order to reduce the number of times that a person is prompted for login and password credentials when using the same computer. In the spring of 2003, the system began a collaboration with other groups around the University, developing the ability to allow users to access protected websites using different login types. In 2010, the authentication system — migrated to use Oracle tools — adopted the use of web gates for client-side validation of authentication assertions.

Today, the Harvard Authentication System is used to authenticate users to hundreds of online resources, making it simpler, more convenient, and more secure for members of the Harvard community to access the information and tools they need.