Thursday, June 5, 2014

Office 365 Multi-Factor Authentication

Microsoft has recently introduced Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for Office 365. This feature is now part of Office 365 Midsize Business, Enterprise plans, Academic plans, nonprofit plans and standalone Office 365 plans (including Exchange Online and SharePoint Online) at no additional cost.
MFA has actually been available for Office 365 administrative roles since June 2013, but it is now available to any Office 365 end user. There are also improvements to the capabilities available since last year, such as App Passwords for users so they can authenticate from Office desktop applications such as Outlook, Lync, Word, etc., as these do not yet natively support MFA.
MFA in Windows Azure and Office 365 provides several options for users as well as backup options in the event the user is not able to authenticate using their preferred method. These are:
  • MFA apps are available for Windows Phone, Android and iOS devices. Users download the free app and activate it using a code provided during setup. When the user signs-in, a notification is pushed to the app on their mobile device and the user taps to approve or deny the authentication request. Once the app is installed it can operate in 2 different modes:
    1. Notification: in this mode, the app prevents unauthorized access to accounts and stops fraudulent transactions. This is done using a push notification to the phone or registered device. The user checks the notification and if it is legitimate, he/she selects Verify. Otherwise, the user can chose to Cancel or even Cancel and Report Fraud if it is a fraudulent notification;
    2. One-Time Password: in this mode, the Windows Azure MFA app is used as software token to generate an OATH passcode. This passcode is then entered along with the username and password to provide the second form of authentication.
  • Automated phone calls can be placed by the MFA service to any phone, landline or mobile. The user simply answers the call and presses # on the phone keypad to complete their sign in;
  • Text messages can be sent by the MFA service to any mobile phone. The text message contains a one-time six-digit passcode. The user is prompted to either reply to the text message with the passcode or enter the passcode into the sign in screen.
To continue reading, please check my Office 365 Multi-Factor Authentication article on which explores MFA in Windows Azure Active Directory in general with a focus on MFA for Office 365.

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