Microsoft Employees in China Forced to Switch From Android to iPhones

Microsoft is reportedly 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 for work to verify their identities in order to log into work devices, and Android access will be blocked.Microsoft notified the hundreds of impacted staff via an internal memo, Bloomberg reports Monday. The employees will each receive an iPhone 15 to use instead of Android smartphones and will be able to pick up their iPhones 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.The move away from Android to iOS in the region is a part of Microsoft’s Secure Future Initiative, which the company established in November 2023 in an effort 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 was also able to access internal Microsoft data on an Azure cloud server that didn’t have a password back in February.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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PCMag has reached out to Microsoft for comment.

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