Microsoft 365, formerly Office 365, is one of the most popular productivity suites used today, with SMBs and enterprises alike utilizing Outlook, OneDrive, and Teams as a central hub for users’ work. This increases accessibility and productivity, but it has also made Microsoft 365 a common target for cyberattacks. With everything being stored in one place, it only takes the compromise of one account for a cybercriminal to gain access to all of your business’ data. Therefore, it’s critical to implement effective security measures to ensure all users are legitimate and verified before they’re granted access to company data. One way to do that is with multi-factor authentication.
Microsoft is one of the most impersonated brands globally, with attackers spoofing the vendor’s identity in order to manipulate users into handing over their login credentials. Armed with a user’s Microsoft 365 username and password, a cybercriminal can access corporate data stored in OneDrive, SharePoint, Outlook, and Teams, install malware, and carry out further impersonation attacks within the company to gain access to higher-tier systems.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) for Microsoft 365 prevents this by requiring users to verify their identities via two or more methods before being granted access to their 365 accounts. This is usually via something they know (e.g., a password), something they have (e.g., a hardware token), or something they are (e.g., a fingerprint scan). This means that, even if an attacker manages to steal or crack a user’s password, they won’t be able to access that user’s account without a second factor of authentication—and it’s much harder to steal a fingerprint than it is a password.
In this guide, we’ll explore the best authentication solutions for Microsoft 365. We’ll give you some background information on the provider and the key features of each solution, as well as who they’re best suited for, so you can be certain you’re choosing the best protection for your organization.
What Is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)?
MFA is a security tool that requires users to verify their identities in two or more ways before being granted access to corporate applications, devices, or systems. Users can authenticate using:
- Something they know, e.g., a password.
- Something they have, e.g., a hardware token.
- Something they are, e.g., a fingerprint scan.
What Features Should You Look For In An MFA Solution?
There are five key features you should look for when comparing authentication solutions for Microsoft 365:
- Granular access policy configuration: you should be able to implement conditional access policies at a global, user, and application level.
- Support for multiple authentication methods: by enabling users to choose from multiple different authentication methods, you can ensure streamlined, secure access for all users on all devices.
- Adaptive or risk-based authentication: adaptive authentication analyzes the context of each login attempt for abnormal behaviors and steps up authentication/ alerts admins if suspicious activity is detected.
- Reporting on login activity: you should be able to generate reports into login activity to identify suspicious login attempts and prevent lateral account compromise attacks.
- Integrated single sign-on (SSO): SSO reduces friction and boosts productivity by enabling users to sign in once at the beginning of their session to gain access to their entire suite of corporate applications.