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Microsoft employees in China forced to switch from Android to iPhone


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Microsoft is asking all its employees in China to stop using Android phones for work and switch to Apple’s iPhones for cybersecurity reasons.

Microsoft employees 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 sign in to work devices, and Android access will not be available.

Microsoft notified hundreds of affected employees via an internal memo, according to Bloomberg. ReportsEach employee will receive an iPhone 15, which they can pick up from select locations in mainland China or Hong Kong. This means that phones like those from Xiaomi, Huawei, Redmi, OnePlus, and Oppo will no longer be allowed.

In a statement to PCMag, Microsoft explained that the change was necessary because the required apps are currently only available through the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store. “The Microsoft Authenticator and Identity Pass apps are officially available on the Apple Store and Google Play. Given that Google Mobile Services is not available in this region, we are looking to provide a way for employees to access these required apps, such as through an iOS device,” the representative explained.

The move toward security-based applications for employees in the region is part of Microsoft’s Secure Future Initiative launched in November 2023 to overhaul its cybersecurity standards. However, despite this policy, Russian hackers managed to breach Microsoft’s email systems earlier this year. A third-party cybersecurity firm also gained access to internal Microsoft data on an Azure cloud server that did not have a password in February.

After a seven-month review, U.S. federal regulators said in April that Microsoft needed to make “fundamental” reforms to its cybersecurity policies. The review panel blamed Microsoft’s corporate culture for the China-backed email breach, in which Chinese hackers forged Microsoft authentication codes to break into U.S. government Outlook accounts.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comment from Microsoft.

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