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17 June 2013, 10:29

Multi-factor authentication for Microsoft cloud

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Usernames and passwords alone are so 2012 – at least that appears to be the view taken by Microsoft. It is now offering a multi-factor authentication facility to customers using its Azure cloud service. This involves logging in as normal, then using a smartphone app or receiving an automated announcement or text message by phone. The technology used comes from PhoneFactor, which Microsoft acquired in October 2012.

The service, which is coupled to the Active Directory service, is currently available as a preview only. Customers can choose between two pricing models, paying either $1 per user per month for an unlimited number of authentications or $1 for ten authentications per month for unlimited users. Prices are expected to double once multi-factor authentication exits the preview stage. For ten users this would increase the price of a mid-range virtual Windows machine by nearly 15 percent.

The additional authentication can be activated in Azure's Active Directory settings or, promises Microsoft, be integrated into custom applications with "just a few lines of code". Users have to indicate their preferred authentication method and phone number the first time they log in only. The service is available in North America, Asia and Europe.


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