Microsoft 365 Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

What is MFA?

Icon Authenticator App (Large)Up to now you only had a password to protect your account. If someone got hold of your password (an authentication factor), this person could use your username and password to impersonate you. If the system would request a second or third unique factor, taking over your account is a lot harder. There are 3 factors of authentication:

  1. Something you know: your password
  2. Something you have: your (smart)phone
  3. Something you are: your fingerprint

As you can see, with MFA just stealing your password will not be enough to take control of your account.  

When to use MFA?

Once MFA is set up, you will be prompted for a second factor when you use a new device to log on to Microsoft 365 or a system using Microsoft 365 authentication. Simply put, after you authenticate using multiple factors, you confirmed that you own that device. The next time use that device, it is recognized as belonging to you and only a password will suffice. If a device cannot be recognized as used before, you will have to go through the complete MFA process.  

How works Microsoft 365 MFA?

Screenshot Authenticator App (Large)Microsoft 365 is currently using Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), relying on a password and a phone. In short it can be explained in the following steps:

  1. Your Office 365 account gets enabled for MFA
  2. Next time you logon to an Microsoft 365 account you need to configure MFA (this requires a web browser)
  3. You identify the methods of the second authentication. If you have an iPhone or Android we recommend the Authenticator App (see screenshot of the app on an iPhone)
  4. After you complete configuration, MFA will be invoked each time you connect to an Microsoft 365 service from a new device.

What else you need to do?

If you have a smartphone, we recommend using the Microsoft Authenticator App. It makes using Microsoft 365 MFA quick and easy. Install it ahead of time from the:

Also, when you use your fingerprint to unlock the smartphone, you are truly using 3-factor authentication. 


Who should use Microsoft 365 MFA?

We would like to see everybody use MFA. Setting it up takes less than 5 minutes, and for most students, faculty, and staff they will need to use the extra factor rarely. ITS will be rolling out Microsoft 365 MFA over the next months to faculty and staff. We encourage students to voluntarily participate in using it.  

Any questions or want more information?

Contact the ITS Help Center via email ( or phone (401) 456 8803.

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