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The Azure Workaround

When Azure, Microsoft’s storage cloud, was hit with a problem that rolled around the world, it affected some of our clients who use it for storing and accessing data and apps, especially with remote access such a key need. Microsoft hasn’t been the only cloud provider hit, and this won’t be the last problem. But nothing needs to shut you down.

The Azure problem essentially locked people and businesses out of their data and apps. In the most basic terms, any Azure customer using Dev Ops and Office 365 who depended on two-factor authorization to protect their Azure accounts couldn’t log in. We were affected as a customer of both services.

At the time we were affected, we were doing a setup at a client and needed to get a big file, which we store through Azure. When I logged in to get it, I got no access; I just got a message they would send a text. I had an external hard drive with an old version of the file, and that was not suitable. Transferring the file remotely from my office computer would have taken too long. We solved the immediate problem by transferring the file from my computer to my Dropbox account and then downloading it from there.

We worked around the problem, but we operated in a vacuum. As an IT service provider, we got no information about anything that was happening, and that was frustrating. We later learned – along with the rest of the world – the problem started in Asia and made its way westward as organizations in Europe, Africa and the Americas began their workdays.

It took a few days for explanations and suggestions to reach everyone, and it didn’t take long (in the grand scheme of things) to return to normal operations. The problem centered around a breakdown in the two-factor authentication process. We and our client were fortunate that I had the capability – files stored on a computer I could access and Dropbox – to initiate a solution. But not every user has the resources I had.

Two-factor authentication is one of the key ways we can protect our data and app security, and the technology is evolving as we move toward password-less access to cloud servers and other websites that house highly sensitive info, such as banks, shopping sites and healthcare organizations. As hackers get better, our industry needs to stay ahead of them.

We don’t believe that shutting off two-factor authentication is a good solution to a random-access problem, but when it comes to your Microsoft accounts, you can turn it on and off as needed. That might be an effective workaround.

Microsoft’s website has step-by-step instructions for all who have a Microsoft account.

  1. Login to
  2. On the home page, click “Security & Privacy”.
  3. On the “Security & Privacy” Page, click on “Manage advanced security” link.
  4. Look for a page where you will find a link to “Set up two-step verification” or “Turn Off” Two-step verification

If you have any questions about the process or need a walkthrough, contact us by phone – 973-433-6676 – or email. We can also help you with two-factor authentication with other systems and help you with other solutions to maximize your data and app access and security.

By the way, this is not a Microsoft-specific issue. Other cloud services, including Google and Amazon, have had access problems. Service outages will happen again because we will continue to use cloud-based services and because…stuff happens. Looking at big picture, the cloud has too many advantages, such as access from any internet connection and the best possible security measures available, to pull everything back to individual computers and servers