Microsoft snaps up PhoneFactor to bolster authentication offering

Microsoft has announced that they are buying PhoneFactor, a purchase aimed squarely at bolstering the companies enterprise authentication offerings

The service is designed to allow folks to use their mobile devices as a way to authenticate against key Microsoft services such as Active Directory, Azure and Office 365.

The unstoppable rise of adoption in smartphone uptake means that pretty soon most of us will have a computer in our pocket. With that in mind the company has produced a product to allow for critical multi factor authentication to take place on the phone. At present many companies use security fobs/tokens which often times get lost stolen of just break, they also are not cheap or easy to replace.

The idea here is that the authentication system is simply an app on a device to enable the same functionality without all the hassle. As we move ever closer to heavy reliance on cloud based services its quite easy to see why Microsoft would be interested in making such a purchase. 

Many of us are struggling with 100’s of online passwords and simply having a multi factor authentication with a unique device could ease many security concerns. The press release doesn't’t mention Windows Phone or even consumer use but it’s almost inconceivable that Microsoft wont want to push this down the chain to normal users, especially if they want to keep their cloud services air tight. Now that MS own such a service we're sure to see apps created for Windows Phone 8, being as MS are keen to fill that number three niche that Blackberry is fast vacating, bolstering these types of services is now essential.

We’d love to hear from you sys admins out there, are you stoked about this? For those using Microsoft’s cloud services, would you like to see this become available to all? Do let us know.

Source: MSDN

Robert Brand
  • Oh yes as a end user would love that.
  • "At present many companies use security fobs/tokens which often times get lost stolen of just break, they also are not cheap or easy to replace."
    Not sure how phones or tablets win in these areas.  They do, however, win as a means of consolidating the devices one carries around.
    Also, consumers are already doing this with the Blizzard authenticator app (which is even available for WP!).  The Old Republic tried to get people to use an authenticator too, not sure if they had a mobile app or just hardware though.
  • Yeah I use the blizzard app. I purchased the key fob a while ago but I've since ditched and basically wasted the money I spent on it. Its just so much more convenient as an app. This is a great acquisition by Microsoft.
  • Wth, I never knew WP7 had the authenticator app! The last time I checked the site in my account (admittedly, it was probably around July/August), I didn't see it show WP7 had an app like iOS and android. Cheers!
  • We use phone factor now as a two-factor authentication solution against our Citrix web portal.  It works great, easy to set up, and is really stable.  In addition, support is a pleasure to work with as well; they have personality and are quick to respond.  As long as all these factors don't change, I'm okay with Microft snapping them up.  
    To get this option as a consumer for products like Office365 is pleasing to think about.
  • There was an app already available which performs I believe similarly to this for WP7 the name of it is verisign. It has multiple options for authentication, IE Toolbar, Key Fob, Credit Card Type and Phone App. I used it in the past for a couple of websites that required additional authentication identification for administrators.
    In the market place the app name comes up if you search verisign or VIP Access and is published by Symantec.
    Pretty good app, would recommend anyone needing this type of authentication checks it out.