Microsoft rolls out multi-factor authentication for Office 365 to improve security

Microsoft rolls out multi-factor authentication for Office 365 to improve security

Microsoft has rolled out multi-factor authentication for those who have an Office 365 subscription, without requiring any additional purchases or subscription. This feature was previously only available for administrators. Microsoft plans on expanding this feature later this year.

"Today we’re adding Multi-Factor Authentication for Office 365 to Office 365 Midsize Business, Enterprise plans, Academic plans, Nonprofit plans, and standalone Office 365 plans, including Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. This will allow organizations with these subscriptions to enable multi-factor authentication for their Office 365 users without requiring any additional purchase or subscription," Microsoft stated in an official blog post.

This new feature is part of Microsoft's ongoing effort to improve and enhance security for Office 365. With this multi-factor authentication feature, users are required to acknowledge a phone call, text message, or an app notification on their smartphone after correctly entering their password. Once the user completes this, they can sign into Office 365. Here are the options:

  • Call my mobile phone. The user receives a phone call that asks them to press the pound key. Once the pound key is pressed, the user is logged in.
  • Text code to my mobile phone. The user receives a text message containing a six-digit code that they must enter into the portal.
  • Call my office phone. This is the same as Call my mobile phone, but it enables the user to select a different phone if they do not have their mobile phone with them.
  • Notify me through app. The user configured a smartphone app and they receive a notification in the app that they must confirm the login. Smartphone apps are available for Windows Phone, iPhone, and Android devices.
  • Show one-time code in app. The same smartphone app is used. Instead of receiving a notification, the user starts the app and enters the six-digit code from the app into the portal.

Microsoft rolls out multi-factor authentication for Office 365 to improve security

Microsoft has also added "App Passwords" for users, so authentication from Office desktop applications can take place since they have yet to be updated to enable multi-factor authentication. Microsoft is planning on adding native multi-factor authentication to the Outlook, Lync, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PowerShell, and OneDrive for Business applications in Office 2013 later this year.

Simply head over to the Office 365 admin center, and on the users and groups page, administrators can enroll users for multi-factor authentication by clicking the Set Multi-factor authentication requirements link. The user will then be prompted to configure their settings upon the next login.

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