Incoming freshmen: Creating an MIT online identity
July 10, 2018
Phil Johnson
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Female student wearing MIT t-shirt sitting on the grass studying
Photo: Jake Belcher

Be sure to sure read our earlier article for incoming freshmen: Getting Started with IT at MIT

You’re coming to MIT! You’ve probably been busy with tasks like making travel plans, picking out things for your dorm room, and buying a new computer. Time to take a breather! Well… not quite. You still need to create your digital identity at MIT before you arrive on campus.


Your Kerberos account (sometimes referred to as an Athena or MIT account) will grant you access to a vast array of tech services and resources on campus. As a new student, you can register for your Kerberos account through the MyMIT portal.

It’s best to choose a Kerberos username that corresponds with your real-life identity, for example your first initial and your last name. Also make sure to choose a strong password.

MIT certificate

An MIT certificate lets you access secure web services, such as Student Information Systems, without having to type in a username and password. You need to install a certificate for each web browser on every device that you use. MIT recommends that you use CertAid to install certificates for Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari.

To install a certificate on Firefox, go to the Get an MIT Certificate page and fill in your credentials.

Certificates must be renewed yearly by July 31.


If someone cracks your password, they could have access to sensitive information… but not if you have Duo, the two-factor authentication tool. By adding a second security measure, Duo verifies your identity via a physical device, such as your smartphone, a landline, or a hardware token (YubiKey). This ensures secure access to your Kerberos account.

Download the Duo mobile app to get started. Then go online to register your device. If you need help, there’s a step-by-step guide with screenshots for smart phones and a comprehensive FAQ.

IS&T also strongly recommends that you register a backup device for use with Duo in case something happens to your primary device. In addition to a smartphone, you can register a tablet, a non-smartphone, or an Apple watch. Once you get to campus, you can also get a YubiKey for free from IS&T, which is a particularly good backup device, since it doesn’t require Wi-Fi or celluar service.


Once you get your Kerberos account, you’ll be able to login to your MIT email. Your email address will be You can login using an email client or through a web browser at

MIT suggests Outlook or Apple Mail for your email needs. Outlook is part of the free Microsoft Office bundle available to all MIT students. Apple Mail is available on all Apple devices.

If you’d like to forward your email to another email account, such as Gmail, you can use SIPB’s Mailto service. Instructions on how to use it are available in the Knowledge Base.

Ready to rumble

Once you’re set up with your Kerberos account, you’ll have online access to a wide range of MIT resources and information. Look for upcoming blog posts to help you get acclimated to the IT environment at MIT. Be sure to contact IS&T if you have any questions or concerns.