Credentials + Code = Login

What is Multi-Factor Authentication?

What is Two-Step Verification?

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) or sometimes called two-step verification, is an advanced security layer included with Office 365 that makes it more difficult for hackers to get access and gain control of your account. MFA verifies your identity through a two-step process before granting you access to online applications. You may already be using MFA to protect online services such as Gmail or Facebook.  The two verification methods that are usually required to prove your identity are:

  • Information you know (like your username and password)
  • A unique item you have (like your cell phone)

When logging in with MFA, you must supply your username/password AND prove that you are in possession of a trusted device (i.e. phone.)

Why MFA?

Data breaches are becoming more prevalent in today’s always-connected world.  It is getting harder to recognize the difference from a legitimate login screen and one that is setup as a phishing scheme to steal your username and password. Using MFA provides an additional layer of protection for your user account. Should someone guess your password or trick you into providing it by posing as a legitimate source, an attacker will still have an additional barrier preventing them access to company data. Only the user of a registered trusted device can lift this barrier, making MFA the preferred security method.

How Does It Work?

With MFA, you will need to provide an additional verification method to prove you have access to a trusted device. When logging into company online resources, you will be required to enter your username and password like normal. Then, you may also need to prove that you have access to a trusted device/phone that you previously registered. Only after completing the additional verification step using your trusted device will you be granted access.

Username and password plus mobile app code equals access granted

MFA Sign-in Options

With MFA, you will need to provide an additional verification method to prove you have access to a trusted device. The verification methods available with Office 365 and Azure Active Directory can be any of the following:

  • Click Approve from a mobile notification (preferred)
  • Enter a code received by SMS text message
  • Answer a registered phone number and press #
  • Retrieve an authorization code from a mobile app (similar to an RSA token)

Keep reading. Instructions for configuring and logging in with each of these methods are detailed below.

First Login After MFA Is Enabled

Log into your account as you normally would using your username and password. Your first login after MFA has been enabled will require you to setup your additional identity verification methods. To continue click the Set it up now button.

Microsoft login screen after MFA has been enabled

You will need to choose the default method you will use to verify your account. We recommend using the Microsoft Authenticator app on your mobile device that will allow you to simply tap Approve from a mobile notification. In addition to being the most secure method, the Microsoft Authenticator app will also allow you to get the verification code even if the device isn’t connected to a cellular network.

You should set up more than one in case your primary method is unavailable. We also recommend setting up your mobile phone number as your alternate verification phone in case the Authenticator app is not working.

Setup Microsoft Authenticator App

We recommend this as your default verification option. It is the quickest and easiest way to complete the login process.

Using this method will require that you download and install the Microsoft Authenticator app on your phone, tablet, or smart watch. The app is available for Windows Phone, Android, and iOS.

Step 1: How should we contact you?
  1. Select Mobile app from the drop-down list.
  2. Select Receive notifications for verification
  3. Click Set up.
Setup additional security verification for mobile app notifications
  1. On your phone or tablet, open the Authenticator app and add an account.
  2. Specify that you want to add a work or school account. You may need to allow the Authenticator app permission to take pictures and record video. The QR code scanner within the app will then open. If your camera is not working properly, you can select to enter your company information manually.
  1. With your mobile device, scan the QR code dispalyed on your computer’s screen to register the mobile app.
  2. Tab Finish in the mobile app.  You should now see an item with a 6 digit code displayed.
  3. Click Next to close the set up screen.
  4. Ensure that the text next to the Set up button now displays Mobile app has been configured for notifications and verification codes.
    Authenticator app verification text
  5. Select Next.
Scanning a QR code with the Microsoft Authenticator app
Step 2: Let’s make sure that we can reach you on your Mobile App device
  1. You will now need to approve a mobile app notification to continue. A notification screen will open on your mobile device asking you to approve your sign in. Select Approve. After a brief moment, your web page should continue to complete the login process.
Step 3: In case you lose access to the mobile app

At this point, you are prompted to setup additional security verification. This is to prevent you from being locked out if for some reason the Authenticator app is not working properly or you have to replace your phone. Make sure to use your mobile phone number so you can verify your identity wherever you are.

Authenticator setup setp 3 verify phone number
Step 4: Keep using your existing applications

The mobile registration process creates a default app password for you. Store this password to a safe location and use it for any applications that are unable to work with multi-factor authentication like Outlook, Skype for Business, or native email clients on mobile devices.

See more about App Passwords below.

Screen showing the default app password

Login With The Microsoft Authenticator App

  1. Log in with your username and password as normal.
  2. The next screen will notify you that a notification has been sent to your mobile device to approve your sign-in.
Approve sign in request web notification
  1. On your mobile device, a notification will appear in the notification panel from the Microsoft Authenticator app asking you to approve the sign-in. Select Approve.
  2. You have now successfully signed into your account.

If your mobile device with the Authenticator app is not available, you can select Sign in another way to choose an alternate verification method.

Microsoft Authenticator verification approval notification

Login With Verification Code From Mobile App

The Microsoft Authenticator will display a 6-digit verification code that changes every 30 seconds. This is useful when your mobile device does not have a data connection or is unable to receive text messages.

  1. Open the Authenticator app on your mobile device.
  2. Enter the current code displayed in the app and click Verify.  Make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to enter the code and click verify before the code changes. Otherwise, you may wait until the next code rotation.
  3. If successful the login will complete.

Login With Phone Authentication

Phone authentication can either send an SMS text message or call your phone to complete the sign in verification.  The next screen will notify you that a text or a phone call has been sent to your phone to approve your sign in.

SMS Code Verification. To verify by phone call, see below.

  1. Log in with your username and password as normal.
  2. The next screen will notify you that a text has been sent to your phone to approve your sign in.
  3. Once you receive the SMS text message on your mobile device, enter the code and click Verify.
  4. If successful the login will complete.

Phone Call Verification. To verify by SMS code, see above.

  1. Log in with your username and password as normal.
  2. The next screen will notify you that a call is being placed to your phone for sign in verification.
  3. Answer the phone when it rings and press # when prompted.
  4. If successful the login will complete.
Approve call verification

Changing Verification Options

From any Office 365 web-browser application, click on your user logo in the top-right corner to expand account options and select My account.  If not currently in an Office 365 app you can sign in at https://portal.office.com.

Open my account
  1. From account settings, choose Security & privacy.
  2. Then, click Additional security verification to expand additional options.
  3. Now, click Update your phone numbers used for account security.
Open verification options in account settings

You can now change any of your verification options and set the default method. Our recommendation is to select Notify me through the app as the default option and use your mobile as the Authentication phone and your Office phone if it will reach you directly or by dialing an extension.

Verification options

App Passwords

App passwords are a special type of password that when used does not require multi-factor authentication.  They should only be used with applications that cannot launch a browser window as part of the sign-in process to perform the additional security verification.  For example, the native email applications on Android or iOS phones do not work with multi-factor authentication.

Outlook and Skype for Business on the desktop do not work with multi-factor authentication by default. Unless your administrator has taken additional steps to work with single sign-on and multi-factor authentication you will need to use an app password for both Outlook and Skype for Business.

When using app passwords, we recommend creating a single app password per device you use. That way if the device is ever lost you can revoke the app password for that device without affecting any of your other devices.

To create or delete an app password, follow the instructions in Changing Verification Options above to change app passwords. Then, click the App Passwords link at the top of the page.

Alternatively, you can browse directly to https://account.activedirectory.windowsazure.com/AppPasswords.aspx

Arrow pointing to app passwords link

You can now create or delete app passwords.

Important: The app password is only shown once when you first create it. Please take note and keep it in a safe place as it will not be shown again. If you forget it, you will need to create another app password.

Page showing app passwords
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