Microsoft China bans Android to staff due to privacy reasons

Microsoft is banning Android phones from its workplace in China for privacy and security reasons. According to Bloomberg News, Microsoft staff will have to ditch their Android-powered devices in favor of iPhones starting in September.

Special iPhone apps will be required for China-based employees to verify their identities when logging in to work computers or phones. The internal memo revealed by Bloomberg highlights Microsoft’s global Secure Future Initiative to ensure all staff uses Microsoft Authenticator and Identity Pass apps.

Microsoft decided to ban Android phones because the Google Play Store isn’t available in mainland China. Instead, Android users must rely on app stores made by local smartphone vendors, such as Huawei and Xiaomi. Still, Redmond has chosen to block access to its corporate resources from those devices because “they lack Google’s mobile service in the country.”

That said, Microsoft will provide an iPhone 15 for any staff with Android handsets as a one-time purchase. More interestingly, even Microsoft’s Hong Kong offices, where Google’s services are accessible, will also require the use of iPhone devices.

Bloomberg notes that Microsoft started ramping up security worldwide after “incurring repeat attacks from state-sponsored hackers.” A few months ago, the company’s executive vice president, Charlie Bell, wrote: “We are making security our top priority at Microsoft, above all else—over all other features.”

With a recent Russia-linked breach disclosed in January that affected dozens of US government agencies, including the State Department, Microsoft wants to ensure its employees and partners are safe. The company is even committed to moving faster to address cloud vulnerabilities and make it harder for hackers to steal credentials.

While using an iPhone doesn’t guarantee complete protection against possible attacks, Microsoft can at least ensure employees can have their own authentication apps without issues. In addition, Apple offers specific privacy features, such as Lockdown Mode, for those who think they might suffer from hacker attacks.

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