Configure Multi Factor Authentication For Office 365 Users

Overview

 
Authentication to Office 365 is driven by Azure Active Directory (known as Azure AD for short). It manages identities and authentication for Office 365. Each user can access Office 365 resources using the credentials (a combination of username and password). Multi-factor authentication adds a layer of security on top of it.
 
In this article, we will explore the concept of Multi-factor authentication (MFA) and how to enable it in Office 365.
 

Issues with Traditional Password Approach

 
The major shortcoming of using username and password is that it can be compromised easily or with some efforts because of several reasons.
  1. Users tend to use the same password across multiple applications.
  2. Store all passwords at one single location.
  3. Easy to remember passwords makes it easy to guess.
With various tricks, attackers can easily target these scenarios to crack the password.
 

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

 
Multi-factor authentication as the name itself denotes is more than one authentication factor for successful authentication or combination of multiple authenticators which provides multiple factors. It can be a combination of any of the below:
  1. Software (Password, PIN)
  2. Hardware (Token, Key)
  3. User identity (Biometric data)
Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection on top of username and password.
 

Set up Multi-factor Authentication 

  • Open Office 365 Admin Center.
  • From the left menu, click Users > Active users.
Configure Multi Factor Authentication For Office 365 Users
  • Select the users to enable MFA.
  • Click "Enable".
Configure Multi Factor Authentication For Office 365 Users
  • Click “enable multi-factor auth”.
Configure Multi Factor Authentication For Office 365 Users
  • Multi-factor auth is now enabled for the selected accounts. 
Configure Multi Factor Authentication For Office 365 Users
  • Click "Close".

Multi-Factor Auth Status

 
MFA status of users is one of below values.
  • Disabled: MFA is not enabled for the user.
  • Enabled: The user is enrolled for MFA but has not completed the registration process.
  • Enforced: The user may not have completed registration.

Bulk Update the users for MFA

 
The users can be updated in bulk to enable or disable MFA. This can be handled using a CSV file.
  • Login as a global administrator.
  • On Multi-factor authentication page, click bulk update.
Configure Multi Factor Authentication For Office 365 Users
  • Click “Download a sample file” to download sample CSV.
Configure Multi Factor Authentication For Office 365 Users
  • Modify this file to include users to enable or disable MFA.
Configure Multi Factor Authentication For Office 365 Users
  • From “BROWSE FOR FILE…” dialogue, upload the file with records to enable or disable MFA.
  • Click the next arrow.
  • Once the file is verified, click next to update the accounts.
  • Once finished, click "Done".
Please note new users cannot be added using this approach.
 

Test the MFA

  • In the browser, open Office 365 portal (http://portal.office.com)
  • Provide the sign-in credentials
  • The sign-in window will ask for more information.
Configure Multi Factor Authentication For Office 365 Users
  • Click "Next".
  • Select the method to contact (either call or text message) to authenticate.
Configure Multi Factor Authentication For Office 365 Users
  • In case you have opted to receive the code by text message, enter the received code.
Configure Multi Factor Authentication For Office 365 Users
  • Click "Verify".
  • The next screen will provide the app password. In some apps, like Outlook, Apple Mail, and Microsoft Office, you can't use a phone to secure your account. To use these apps, you'll need to create a new "app password" to use in place of your work or school account password.
Configure Multi Factor Authentication For Office 365 Users
  • Click Done.
The user will be logged in to Office 365 portal using MFA.
 

Summary

 
Static password can be compromised by an attacker. Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection on top of username and password. Office 365 used Azure AD for authentication. MFA can be easily setup per user or as a bulk. Only Global administrator can enable or disable MFA.