HomeChinaMicrosoft Employees in China Mandated to Switch from Android to iPhones

Microsoft Employees in China Mandated to Switch from Android to iPhones

Microsoft Employees in China Mandated to Switch from Android to iPhones

Microsoft is requiring all of its China-based employees to stop using Android phones for work purposes and switch to Apple iPhones for cybersecurity reasons.

Microsoft staff in China will also have to use Microsoft’s Authenticator password manager and Identity Pass app on their iPhones to verify their identities in order to log into work devices, and Android access won’t be available.

Microsoft notified the hundreds of impacted staff via an internal memo, Bloomberg reports. The employees will each receive an iPhone 15, which they can pick up at specific locations in Mainland China or Hong Kong. This means mobile phones like those from Xiaomi, Huawei, Redmi, OnePlus, and Oppo will no longer be allowed.

In a statement to PCMag, Microsoft explains that the change is necessary because the now-required apps are only available via Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store. “Microsoft Authenticator and Identity Pass apps are officially available on the Apple and Google Play stores. Due to the lack of availability of Google Mobile Services in this region, we look to offer employees a means of accessing these required apps, such as an iOS device,” the rep explains.

The move toward security-based apps for employees in the region is part of Microsoft’s Secure Future Initiative, which the company established in November 2023 to overhaul its cybersecurity standards. Despite the policy, however, Russian hackers still managed to breach Microsoft’s corporate email systems earlier this year. A third-party cybersecurity firm also accessed internal Microsoft data on an Azure cloud server that didn’t have a password back in February.

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After a seven-month review, US federal regulators said in April that Microsoft needs to make “fundamental” reforms to its cybersecurity policies. The review board blamed Microsoft’s corporate culture for a China-backed email hack, where Chinese hackers forged Microsoft authentication tokens to breach US government Outlook accounts.

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