A recent Microsoft announcement regarding mandatory multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all Azure users has caused some concerns for many IT administrators. While the rollout is set to begin this July, details about enforcement and potential impacts remain unclear. Let’s take a closer look at the announcement and the impact it may have on your organization. 

What is Multi-factor Authentication?

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security shield that adds an extra layer of protection to your accounts and systems. It goes beyond just passwords, requiring users to provide two or more verification methods to gain access. This makes it significantly harder for attackers to steal data or hijack accounts through tactics like: 

  • Credential stuffing: Reusing stolen passwords across different platforms. 
  • Phishing: Deceptive emails or messages tricking users into revealing login credentials. 
  • Brute force attacks: Systematically trying different password combinations. 
  • Password reuse: Using the same password for multiple accounts. 

There are different MFA methods, each with varying levels of security such as SMS verification or authenticator apps (like Microsoft Authenticator). While both methods provide additional login security, authenticator apps offer a stronger layer of protection. 

The Importance of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) 

Relying solely on usernames and passwords (basic authentication) for administrator and user accounts is a significant security risk. These accounts are prime targets for cyberattacks, making MFA crucial for enhanced protection. Microsoft reports that MFA reduces the overall risk of cyberattacks by 99.22% and prevented 98.56% of account breaches that happened because of exposed credentials.  

Furthermore, strong authentication methods like the Microsoft Authenticator app, with its recent support for passkeys, offer even greater security. However, current adoption rates within the Entra ID community remain low, with only 38% of accounts protected by MFA as of February 2024. The recent announcement of supporting external authentication methods might improve this statistic, allowing organizations to leverage existing MFA solutions beyond Microsoft’s offerings. 

Microsoft is enhancing its security measures for Azure customers by making multi-factor authentication (MFA) mandatory starting in July 2024. This initiative aligns with Microsoft’s Secure Future Initiative, which prioritizes enhanced security for organizations. Implementing tenant-level MFA and identity protections represents a significant step towards achieving best-in-class security. 


Key Takeaways from Microsoft’s Announcement

  • To strengthen Azure security, Microsoft will enforce multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all users starting in July 2024. This phased rollout will begin with the Azure portal and eventually extend to command-line tools (CLI), PowerShell, and Terraform. 
  • For granular control, administrators can tailor MFA requirements using Entra ID Conditional Access policies. 
  • Dedicated reports and tools help you monitor MFA adoption and user status. 

 Who Needs MFA and When?

This MFA enforcement applies to all users accessing Azure resources through the Azure portal, command-line tools (CLI), PowerShell, or Terraform. This includes administrators, developers, and users with appropriate permissions. 


  • Non-Interactive Accounts: Service principals, managed identities, workload identities, and other token-based accounts used for automation are not affected. 
  • Limited User Impact: Students, guest users, and other end-users will only need MFA if they directly manage Azure resources through the mentioned tools. Their access to apps, websites, or services hosted on Azure remains unaffected. 

Microsoft is still gathering feedback on specific scenarios like break-glass accounts and special recovery processes. 

Supported MFA Methods:

Microsoft Entra ID offers a range of methods to add an extra layer of security to your logins: 

  • Microsoft Authenticator 
  • Authenticator Lite (in Outlook) 
  • Windows Hello for Business 
  • FIDO2 security key 
  • OATH hardware token (preview) 
  • OATH software token 
  • SMS 
  • Voice call 

You can find more details here.


Will there be any exceptions for tenant-level MFA enforcement?

Microsoft’s tenant-level MFA enforcement will have limited exceptions. While there’s no opt-out option, an exception process will be available for specific scenarios where no alternative solution exists. Details about these exceptions and the process will be communicated through official Microsoft channels. 

Addressing lingering concerns: 

The Azure team acknowledges concerns regarding the enforcement method and break-glass account specifics. They are actively gathering feedback and aim to provide additional details and rollout dates to keep administrators informed. 


Final Thoughts

A mid-May announcement for a July implementation, particularly when initially focused on the Azure portal, presents a tight timeframe for IT administrators who may already be managing security updates across the broader Microsoft 365 ecosystem. 

If you need some help to implement MFA in your Azure tenant, feel free to reach out to us and our Azure consultants will schedule a call with you. 

Written By:


Softlanding is a long-established IT services provider of transformation, professional services and managed IT services that helps organizations boost innovation and drive business value. We are a multi-award-winning Microsoft Gold Partner with 13 Gold Competencies and we use our experience and expertise to be a trusted advisor to our clients. Headquartered in Vancouver, BC, we have staff and offices in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary to serve clients across Canada.

More By This Author