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Microsoft orders Chinese employees to switch to iPhones

Employees in China were told that, starting from September, they can only use an iPhone for work, banning Android devices from the office.

This is Microsoft’s latest companywide effort to reinforce its products and services against hackers. The measure is intended to make sure that all staff members will use Microsoft’s Authenticator password manager and Identity Pass app.

The reason why Microsoft is blocking Android devices is because Google Play isn’t available in the country. That makes the Apple Store the only place where employees in China can download the aforementioned security apps.

Employees using Android handsets will be provided with an iPhone 15, an internal memo reviewed by Bloomberg says. iPhones will be made available to various hubs across China, including Hong Kong, where Google’s mobile services are available. Employees are allowed to use Android phones and tablets for personal use.

Last year state-sponsored hackers from Russia were able to gain access to email accounts of a few dozen organizations, including several European governments and U.S. government agencies. To access the email accounts, the attackers used counterfeit session tokens created through a Microsoft account consumer signing key.

After persistent pressure and criticism from legislators at home and the Cyber Safety Review Board (CSRB), the Redmond-based tech company launched its Secure Future Initiative (SFI), a program to improve cybersecurity and security protocols within the company.

Microsoft also said it will use artificial intelligence (AI) and other methods to tighten the security of its products and services, making it harder for hackers to steal credentials and move faster to address cloud vulnerabilities. Lastly, Microsoft wants to enforce employees to enable multifactor authentication (MFA).

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