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Learn to Use Multi-Factor Authentication to Protect Your Office 365 Account from Hackers

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Learn to Use Multi-Factor Authentication to Protect Your Office 365 Account from Hackers

Login passwords are like the lock on your office front door. They protect you from break-in, theft, and misuse of your company’s data. That data includes everything from payroll and financial records to customer contact and credit card information.

The type of lock you’re using matters. Most companies lock their doors with a deadbolt or other secure mechanism and also add a security alarm, so they’re alerted if someone tries to enter without the passcode.

That’s what multi-factor authentication is. Using more than one verification in order to gain access. In the case of the physical building it would be the key to unlock the door AND the alarm passcode. And in the case of your digital files, it means requiring another authentication beyond just the login password to get into files and applications.

Our Cloud Computing Team at Unity IT is often asked by our clients to set up their Office 365 business accounts to increase productivity and ensure data continuity. We also make them aware of the free powerful security add-on with that subscription, Microsoft Azure multi-factor authentication.

In this blog, you’ll learn what multi-factor authentication looks like and the step-by-step of how to set it up and how it works for each user.

Why Does Your Business Need Multi-Factor Authentication?

Microsoft cloud computing solutions like Office 365 are trusted by 90% of Fortune 500 companies. It’s a product that’s scalable from a small business to a multi-national, and it shows in their growth of 120,000 new Azure customers each month.

But with popular cloud-based solutions, also come hackers trying to gain unauthorized access to them, which is why multi-factor (also known as two-factor) authentication is so important.

Types of multi-factor verification include:

  • Receiving an access code by text message
  • Authorizing through an automated phone call
  • Authorization through a separate app on a trusted mobile device

Requiring more than just a single password to gain access to your data, significantly strengthens your defense against a costly data breach. It also allows you to guard against weak passwords that employees may use by adding that powerful layer of additional security.

What happens if a salesperson accidentally leaves their mobile tablet, which has access to your company Office 365 platform, in an airport and it’s stolen? You can change their access privileges… but only after you find out, leaving your data vulnerable in the meantime. With multi-factor authentication, anyone trying to gain access to your network would be stopped, even if they hacked the password.

What Other Programs Can You Use It For?

Office 365 connects with multiple other software and apps that help your office run productively every day. So besides using it to secure your Outlook email, Word, Excel, OneDrive, and other Office programs, you can use it to for:

  • Dropbox
  • Salesforce
  • Smartsheet
  • Xero
  • Many other SaaS apps

Azure Multi-Factor Authentication Step-by-Step

You can set up multi-factor authentication (MFA) through your Office 365 admin center. Or, if you work with Unity IT though one of our Managed IT Services plans, we’ll set it all up for you and train your team on how to use it.

If you’re setting it up yourself, your system administrator will take the following steps:

  1. In the Office 365 admin center, go to Users > Active Users.
  2. Choose More > Setup Azure multi-factor auth. (Note: If you don’t see the “More” option, it means you’re not an admin on the system.)
  3. Find the users for whom you want to set up MFA (you may need to change the view at the top to see them).
  4. Select the checkbox next to the user name to enable MFA.
  5. Look to the right and you’ll see Enable and Manage user settings. Choose the Enable option.
  6. Confirm in the dialog box “enable multi-factor auth.”

Steps Users Should Take to Set Up their Personal Multi-Factor Authentication

Once Azure’s MFA is enabled, there are a few steps your users will need to take to set it up on their devices. While it may seem a bit daunting at first, it’s adding a valuable layer of security that could save you from a dangerous data breach in the future. Once in place, users will become used to the system and it will become a regular part of their logins.

  1. Once the Admin sets up Azure multi-factor authentication, users will be prompted to choose their preferred contact method.
  2. After logging in like usual, click the “Set it Up Now” button.
  3. Choose the preferred method for the multi-factor authentication: A phone call, text message, or by installing the Multi-Factor Authentication App on a mobile device.
  4. If you choose the app, download it from the app store, return to the original set up and click the “Configure” button.
  5. Follow the instructions to configure the downloaded app.
  6. If you choose call or text, you’ll be asked to verify and will be sent the verification through your chosen method.
  7. You’ll see a confirmation that multi-factor authentication is now in place for web browser-based applications.
  8. For programs that you sign in to through desktop or mobile apps (not through a browser), such as an email client, you’ll need to set up “app passwords.”
  9. You’ll see a prompt on the screen to generate an app password and be given a secure password to use for that particular application. Copy and paste it right away, because it will only show that one time.
  10. The app password will replace the previous password you created for that non-browser app.
  11. Create a different app password for each device you use. (Tip: Bookmark the app password creation page for easy access later).

Need Some Help Setting Up Multi-Factor Authentication for Your Organization?

Unity IT can set up your Azure (or other system) multi-factor authentication in no time and help you sleep easier at night! Don’t wait to secure your data, give us a call today at 559-297-1007.

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