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Microsoft adds two-factor authentication to Windows Azure

Encircles Active Directory with PhoneFactor security tech

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Microsoft's cloudy identity and access management tool has been given two-factor authentication.

This lets admins add another layer of security into applications that integrate with Windows Azure Active Directory, Microsoft announced on Wednesday.

Microsoft announced plans in April to bring two-factor authentication (in softy-parlance "two-step verification") to Microsoft Accounts, but no mention was made at the time of the more enterprise oriented services.

With Wednesday's announcement, admins can enhance security for Windows Azure Active Directory identities for access to Windows Azure, Intune, Dynamics CRM Online, Office 365, and other apps that link to the access suite.

Active Directory is Microsoft's identity and access management technology. Microsoft's two-factor authentication technology will let admins also add the security feature to third-party cloud apps that integrate with Azure.

The PhoneFactor-based technology works by adding an additional layer of security to log-ins either via an app on a mobile device, or via an automated phone call or text message.

"This helps prevent unauthorized access to data and applications in the cloud – reducing the risk of a breach and enabling regulatory compliance," Microsoft said in a canned statement.

The tech lets admins automate enrollment of Active Directory users into the two-factor authentication scheme. It costs $1 per user per month, or $1 per every 10 authentications – your choice – and prices will double when the tech goes into general availability, Microsoft wrote.

As with the majority of Azure's cloud features, Amazon has got here first. The cloud giant already makes its own multi-factor authentication technology available to users via supported hardware or a virtual authentication device. The difference? AWS doesn't charge anything extra for its service. ®

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