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Howdy folks,

 

I’m excited to announce that cloud backup and recovery for the Microsoft Authenticator app on Android is now available. This means Android users can now back up their account credentials to the cloud, and then easily and securely transfer them to a new device when needed.

 

Try it out!

If you don’t have the Microsoft Authenticator app yet, see Use Microsoft Authenticator with Office 365 for information on how to download and set up the app. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been rolling out the feature and it’s now 100% available for version 6.6.0+. Once you update your app, you can test the new feature out.

 

Turn on backup

To turn on the Microsoft Authenticator cloud backup, open the app and go to Settings. Under Backup, set the Cloud backup toggle to On.

 

Microsoft Authenticator app 1.png

 

Once you turn cloud backup on, your data is encrypted and stored with your personal Microsoft account. Your account credentials stay updated when you add, delete, or edit your accounts.

 

Recovery on a new device

To recover your account credentials on a new device, tap the Begin Recovery button and sign in using the same personal Microsoft account as your previous device.


Microsoft Authenticator app 2.png

 

After you sign in, your OATH verification codes for your third-party accounts and personal Microsoft accounts are available. You also can re-enable push notifications for your personal and work or school Microsoft accounts.

 

If you have additional questions, check out our Microsoft Authenticator docs.

 

Test this feature out and let us know what you think! We always love to hear your feedback and suggestions. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

 

Best regards,

Alex Simons (@Alex_A_Simons)

Director of Program Management

Microsoft Identity Division

 

27 Comments
Frequent Contributor

Awesome! Can you explain a little more on how the backup is secured? For example, if someone can login using your Microsoft (Personal) Account, will they be able to get the backup restored to any device they want?

 

Also, what are the plans to enable backup to Microsoft Work Account (that is Office 365/Azure AD account), even though I realize this can present a catch 22 scenario.

 

Any plans to have these settings managed using Intune App Protection Policies so we can enforce settings, for example disable/enable this feature including ”App Lock”?

Microsoft

Hi @Jonas Back, the backup is secured with your personal Microsoft account credentials. So yes, if someone can login to your account, and also successfully complete two step verification for your account, they can restore your backup on any device.

 

Right now, there aren't immediate plans to enable backup for Microsoft work accounts, because we need a mechanism for admins to turn cloud backup off. However, we are currently working on a mechanism to allow admins to enforce other settings, like "App Lock". Admins won't be able to enforce settings through App Protection Policies. When we did the investigation, we found it didn't make sense to go that route, because some of the Intune App Protection Policies conflicted with Authenticator. For example, through APP, you could require MFA to open an app, but Authenticator is your mechanism for MFA, and so you get into a chicken-and-egg scenario. Instead, there will be a way to apply settings specifically to control the behavior of Authenticator.

New Contributor

Great feature. I was hoping for this feature for so long. Thank you for delivering this 

Senior Member

@Olena Huang thank you for the detailed response. Really well summarised and I only wish that more feedback like yours (level of detail) is provided when launching new features and capabilities. Great content. Thanks again.

New Contributor

How could I choose with which account I want backup my settings to the cloud?

Microsoft

@Matthias Hummler If you have multiple personal Microsoft accounts added to the app, when you enable backup, you'll be prompted to choose one of them to save your backup to.

Frequent Contributor

@Olena Huang Thanks for the clarification. I don't mind backing up to personal Microsoft Account (or iCloud for that matter on iOS) but I suspect some securityminded customers would want to force users to backup to their OneDrive for Business or simply blocking this feature completely since we can't force nor make sure the user's personal Microsoft Account/iCloud is secured properly.

Microsoft

@Jonas Back thanks for your feedback. Going forward, we probably will keep the backup tied to the personal Microsoft account. End users shouldn't have to back up all their personal accounts to OneDrive for Business, as we make the promise that their admin won't get access to their personal credentials. However, for security minded customers, we definitely want to give the option to block the feature completely for work/school accounts, if they don't feel the user's personal Microsoft account/iCloud aren't properly secured.

Occasional Visitor

@Olena Huang Where is the Microsoft Authenticator data stored, and how can i access it? I would like to make a local backup on usb drive, to be double safe.

 

Best Regards

Piotr Burzała

Microsoft

@CthulhuTactical the backup is stored with Microsoft on Android. (On iOS, it's stored with iCloud). Because of security reasons, it's not accessible anywhere except the Microsoft Authenticator app, so you can't make a local backup to a usb drive at this time. Thanks for the feedback.

Occasional Visitor

@Olena HuangThanks. Well that's a bummer, but i'm still going to use the app, since unlike the google authenticator this one is still updated. I hope microsoft database security is as good and refined as their windows product :).

 

Best Regards

Piotr Burzała

Frequent Visitor

Hello @Alex Simons (AZURE) , how are you ? :)

 

 

I did the test below and it didn't work for this use case (iPhone full restore from iCloud). Maybe we will have the same case using Android (i'm still testing). The restore is only working if I delete the app and reinstall in the same device or moving between devices, but not when I perform a full iPhone restore in the same iPhone.

 

iOS 13.2.2 / iPhone 11

 

steps:

1) installed Microsoft Authenticator app

2) setup personal account (@hotmail.com)

3) added 2 records (facebook and google)

4) performed backup to iCloud using backup feature of Microsoft authenticator app

5) performed iPhone backup using iOS iCloud feature

6) reinstall iPhone using iCloud backup

 

After the restore, I tried to follow the "Begin Recovery" procedures of Microsoft authenticator app, but I received the message that I don't have a backup available in my iCloud. But I have the backup.

 

Any ideas ?

 

Regards,

 

Weber Ress

 

Microsoft

Hi Weber Ress,

 

I'm not sure what the issue might be, just from reading your description. Feel free to reach out to me on twitter if you'd like to debug more.

 

Thanks

Olena

New Contributor

@Olena Huang just lost my iOS backup as well. Double checked before resetting my iPhone X that Authenticator was backing up to iCloud - did the reset and now get "There is no backup stored in your iCloud account" when clicking "Begin recovery" - I'm devastated :sad:! Any troubleshooting appreciated. Have given you a follow on Twitter. Thanks!

Regular Visitor

Having just been through a phone upgrade, I can tell you that this was a GIANT pain. I have 14 Office 365 accounts and a personal MS account setup in Authenticator and it took me at least two hours to get them all back up and running, and it would have taken even longer if I hadn't still had the old phone. The personal MS account restored from backup, and the Office 365 accounts still all needed to be reshown QR codes, which meant logging into the account, etc. People change phones, they do it a lot, and it needs to be easier than this.

Microsoft

Hi @solmssen , sorry for your trouble. We currently don't back up the O365 accounts because we want to let admins decide if the end user is allowed to back up the account. We are working on giving admins the capability to manage the app right now. Once we have that, we can turn on backup for O365 accounts.

Microsoft

@Stefan, so sorry that you had that happen. How long did you wait in between turning on backup and trying to recover on the device? Perhaps the window of time was short and the backup hadn't uploaded to the cloud yet. Feel free to message me privately on twitter if you want to debug more.

Frequent Contributor

@Olena Huang Could you clarify what you mean with that you don’t backup Office 365 Accounts? 

 

I have around 40 Office 365 (Azure AD) accounts in my iOS Authenticator (different customers, different tenants) and soon switching phone. Are you saying these accounts will not be restored when I switch to the new phone?

Regular Visitor

@Jonas Back Yep, not real backup. If you have a personal Microsoft account set for backup, what you’ll get is the personal account will come back, and the list of your Azure AD accounts will come back but each one won’t work until you show it a QR code from the MFA set up screen on that account. I just did it with 14 accounts, I don’t envy your 40. 

Frequent Contributor

@solmssen so if they can’t be used for login, how do you login for each tenant? MFA using OTP via SMS/textmessage instead? And then go to aka.ms/mfasetup an enroll again which will get you the QR code?

Regular Visitor

@Jonas Back in my case I still had the old phone so for each account I could go to the aka.ms/mfasetup, approve login on the old phone, add a new app, show the QR code to the app on the new phone which activates that app, and then delete the old phone. If I didn't have the old phone, I'd have to wait for the MFA Authenticator push to time out, then send code to new phone via SMS, then do the rest. Each one took about 3-4 minutes between all the approvals and changes, etc. The only thing the "backup" buys you is there is at least the unactivated stub for each account still listed on the new phone so you can just work through the list instead of having to go through add account, work/school, etc.

 

In my case, it was enough to make me rethink Authenticator. I know we're all supposed to use apps to avoid sim-jacking, but if I have to leave the backup SMS method enabled anyway because if I lose the phone, I can't restore from backup and login without a backup method enabled, then why even bother with the app? It's nice to not have to type in codes, but I bet I used all the time I saved redoing all the accounts for the app.

Microsoft

@Jonas Back , yes, the O365 account credential is not backed up. Instead, we backup a placeholder to make it easier for the end user to recover on their new device. 

Regular Visitor

I thought I posted this, but yes, @Jonas Back  they restore a stub or placeholder entry, and that needs to be shown a new QR code to function. So you have to login to each account and add the new phone, then delete the old one. If you don't have the old phone, you have to use a backup method to approve login, presumably SMS to the number that is now on the new phone. The whole thing takes a few minutes per account.

 

The process is enough to make me rethink the usefulness of Authenticator. In general, I find it confuses my less-skilled users, who are used to SMS codes but the app is a little hard for them. Some of them have trouble multitasking on the phone (new iOS swipe stuff isn't obvious to them) to approve the login while setting up accounts. And if I have to keep a backup SMS method around in case I lose the phone, I'm not sure how Authenticator improves security, since I'm still vulnerable to SIM-jacking. It's nice not to have to type a code every time I login, but I'm sure that I used all the time I saved and more rebuilding 14 Authenticator accounts after changing phones, and you have 40!

 

I'll add that the MFA setup flow is not good - it adds a generally unneeded default App Password, and I have to go out and come back to aka.ms/mfasetup to delete that and add the Authenticator, it can't be done as part of the initial flow.

 

PS: sorry for duplicated content. I thought I posted above, but it hadn't shown up yet when I typed this.

New Contributor

Very nice update now I don't have to user other software to have my Authenticator Codes backed up. 

Occasional Visitor
Hi, this sounds like a great feature. I am thinking of moving off Google precisely because you can't backup and recover codes there. But am I reading this right, that we can backup and recover our codes only on like device types? I cannot be the only one to have both Android and iOS devices. My phone is Android and my wife's is iOS (not to mention my iPad and work iPhone), and I'd like to have one consolidated setup so we both have all the codes in one place. This seems like a fairly typical situation. Do you have any suggestions for our situation? Thanks.
Microsoft

@GBisaga , thanks for your feedback. We hear you. Unfortunately, at this time, there's no way to do a backup and recovery across platforms. We'll definitely consider adding this functionality in the future.

Occasional Visitor
Thanks Olena. This would be a huge feature. So far, Authenticator is actually one of my favorite Microsoft applications, and not being able to share backup/recovery is a major pain point. So if you get anything done on that, that would be such a killer feature.