MSP Microsoft Partner MFA request

I’m not a Managed Service Provider (MSP) but there are lot of them inside the CIAOPS Patron community so I understand the challenges they have. Their role is typically to provide managed of customers technology, including things like Microsoft 365 and Azure. To perform that role they will typically need global administrator access to the clients tenant. They may need this access across multiple tenants.

Best practices is always to ensure you secure global administrator access via Multi Factor Authentication (MFA). This means, when you log into an account you’ll be prompted to verify your identity using a second factor like a code from an app on a mobile device. As I have detailed previously:

Using multiple authenticator apps with a single Microsoft 365 user account

you can have multiple ‘tokens’ to verify an account. If you want all of these tokens to be unique the current Azure AD arrangements are:

“Your users can now have up to five devices across the Authenticator app, software OATH tokens, and hardware OATH tokens.”

per – https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Azure-Active-Directory-Identity/Hardware-OATH-tokens-in-Azure-MFA-in-the-cloud-are-now-available/ba-p/276466

That arrangement is generally fine if only one person is logging into an account but is a problems if you an MSP.

Why? Because you’ll typically have multiple technicians all needing to potentially manage a customers account. You want them to do this from a single global administrator account, however you want each technician to use a different token when they login. That way, if a technicians device gets lost or a technician leaves you merely revoke that one unique token. So, in the case where an MSP needs more than 5 tokens (say 1 for MSP and 4 for technicians) there is going to be an issue. For example what happens when you have 7 technicians say? Yes, there are ways around this but they are messy, cumbersome and inefficient as well as being more insecure I would suggest.

The ask here then is for the ability to increase the amount of tokens beyond 5 for a single account. I would suggest that perhaps the best way to accomplish this is only via a unique PowerShell command and not via the GUI. I also however suggest that a better idea would be to have a new unique global admin role in a tenant, say called “Partner Global Administrator”, that would allow more than 5 tokens. No other administrator could have this enabled, only this unique account. I would also suggest that this unique “Partner Global Administrator” also only be available in tenants that use CSP program from Microsoft. Thus, if the MSP is a CSP partner they will see this special role in the tenant. They then run a PowerShell script if needed and the number of tokens available on that account is increased up to say 20.

I also think that there is number of other benefits that a special “Partner Global Administrator” role could provide but for this request I want to stick to allowing the number security tokens be increased beyond 5.

I believe this request will help the many MSPs globally who manage a significant number of tenants for customers. Making it easier for MSPs to be secure and manage multiple customers more efficiently is a win for everyone.

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