Microsoft staff in China must use iPhone for authentication

Microsoft staff in China have been told that they must use an iPhone for authentication when logging in to company systems. From September, the use of Android smartphones as multi-factor authentication devices will be banned.

This will create a situation where an Apple device will be required despite the fact that staff are using Windows PCs …

The move is part of the Microsoft Secure Future Initiative first announced late last year.

Satya Nadella [and other senior execs] have put significant thought into how we should anticipate and adapt to the increasingly more sophisticated cyberthreats. We have carefully considered what we see across Microsoft and what we have heard from customers, governments, and partners to identify our greatest opportunities to impact the future of security. As a result, we have committed to three specific areas of engineering advancement we will add to our journey of continually improving the built-in security of our products and platforms.

We will focus on 1. transforming software development, 2. implementing new identity protections, and 3. driving faster vulnerability response. These advances comprise what we’re calling the Secure Future Initiative.

Microsoft requires staff to login to work systems using a smartphone and two Microsoft apps for multi-factor authentication. Bloomberg reports that staff in China have been told that they will in future only be allowed to run these apps on an iPhone.

The US company will soon require Chinese-based employees to use only Apple devices to verify their identities when logging in to work computers or phones, according to an internal memo reviewed by Bloomberg News. The measure, part of Microsoft’s global Secure Future Initiative, will affect hundreds of workers across the Chinese mainland and is intended to ensure that all staff use the Microsoft Authenticator password manager and Identity Pass app.

The concern reflects uncertainties around the security of both Chinese-designed hardware and local app stores. Staff who don’t own an iPhone will be given an iPhone 15.

Perhaps the company should also ban them from using the company’s Recall AI feature if it ever relaunches. This was launched in May as a headline new feature of the company’s new AI-powered PCs, but quickly condemned by security experts, and later indefinitely delayed.

Photo by Ed Hardie on Unsplash

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