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Microsoft Releases SMS-based Authentication for Azure AD

July 09, 2020

By Tracey E. Schelmetic - Virtual PBX Contributor

recently announced that it’s launching a series of mobile-first business apps that cater to non-traditional organizations, and to employees in large organizations that don’t use email as their primary communication method. In the past, email and password authentication has been a challenge for workers in this category.

Azure AD is the identity management platform used by Office 365, Microsoft 365, and Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing service. The company recently indicated that it’s expanding the way that users to log in to Azure AD without having to enter a username and password. Azure AD SMS-based authentication, which was released in preview mode, lets users sign in using their registered mobile phone number. Users receive a text message that they use to confirm their identity for security purposes.

These apps target frontline employees, deskless workers, field agents, or retail employees that may not get an email address from their employer, have access to a computer, or to IT. The initiative will let these employees sign into business applications by entering a phone number and roundtripping a code, according to Microsoft. The new capability lets users sign in without needing to provide, or even know, their username and password.

After their account is created by an identity administrator, they can enter their phone number at the sign-in prompt and provide an authentication code that's sent to them via text message. This authentication method simplifies access to applications and services, especially for front line workers. Top use the feature to accommodate these workers, administrators need to first enable the authentication method policy, then select users or groups that can use the SMS-based authentication method. Finally, admins will need to assign a phone number for each user account. This phone number can be assigned in the Azure portal and in “My Staff” or My “Profile.”

The company noted that, at this time, SMS-based authentication isn't currently compatible with Azure Multi-Factor Authentication, and with the exception of Teams, SMS-based authentication isn't currently compatible with native Office applications.

Edited by Maurice Nagle



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