100 Days of Cloud – Day 56: Azure Active Directory and the low level of MFA Adoption

Its Day 56 of my 100 Days of Cloud journey, and today I’m taking a look at Azure Active Directory and MFA Adoption.

We already looked at Azure Active Directory and RBAC roles on Day 4, but today I’m looking at this from a different angle. The reason is because of this article from Catalin Cimpanu telling us that MFA Adoption across all Microsoft Enterprise tenants sits at 22%. And while we may think this is low, this is compared to 11% 2 years ago, and as low as 1% 2 years before that.

This is despite the fact that in August 2019, Microsoft said that customers who enabled MFA for their accounts ended up blocking 99.9% of all attacks. On average, around 0.5% of all accounts get compromised each month

So why the low adoption? The first thought is because of licensing constraints, and I thought about that in relation to both Microsoft 365, Office365 and the various Azure Active Directory offerings.

Lets take a look at Azure AD first – there are 4 different offerings of Azure AD:

  • Free – this version is intended for small businesses and has a limit of 500000 objects. It is primarily intended as an authentication and access control mechanism and supports user provisioning and basic user management functions such as creating, deleting and modifying user accounts. These users can take advantage of self-service password change, and admins can create global lists of banned passwords or require multifactor authentication (MFA). There is no SLA with the Free Edition
  • Office 365 Apps – this is the underlying directory service required to operate the applications on the Office 365 platform, such as Exchange Online for email and SharePoint Online for content management. It has the same features and capabilities as the Free version, but it also adheres to a service-level agreement (SLA) of 99.9% availability. This version comes by default will all Office 365 and Microsoft 365 subscriptions.
  • Premium P1 – this contains the following additional features:
    • Custom banned passwords,
    • Self-service passwords,
    • Group access management,
    • Advanced security and usage reports,
    • Dynamic groups,
    • Azure Information Protection integration,
    • SharePoint limited access,
    • Terms of Use,
    • Microsoft Cloud App Security Integration.
  • Premium P2 – as well as the above, this adds on:
    • vulnerabilities and risky accounts detection,
    • risky events integration,
    • risk-based conditional access policies.

In all of the above offerings MFA is offered as a default, even in the Free tier. So the different levels of licensing in Office365 have no bearing on enabling MFA.

The recommended method for enabling MFA is detailed in this article, where it is recommended that either Azure AD Premium P1 or P2.

So now lets look at the different Office 365 and Microsoft 365 versions – below are the versions where Azure AD Premium P1 and P2 are included:

  • Azure AD Premium P1
    • Office365 E3
    • Microsoft 365 Business Premium
  • Azure AD Premium P2
    • Office 365 E5

If your tenant uses the Free Office 365 versions without Conditional Access, you can use security defaults to protect users. Users are prompted for MFA as needed, but you can’t define your own rules to control the behavior. However, if your licences do not include Azure AD Premium P1 or P2, its recommended you upgrade to one of these tiers to include Conditional Access as part of your MFA deployment.


Hope you enjoyed this post, now go and get enabling MFA on your Azure AD, Office 365 and Microsoft 365 Tenants! Until next time!

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