Microsoft telling its Chinese employees to ditch Android for iPhones is inevitable domino effect

Microsoft is fed up with cybersecurity attacks.

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Key notes

  • Microsoft bans Chinese employees from using Android, switches them to iPhones starting September.
  • Concerns over cybersecurity and Android’s lack of Google services in China prompt the move.
  • In a domino effect, it aligns with Microsoft’s Secure Future Initiatives to enhance Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).
Microsoft building

Massive news is coming out of China as Microsoft reportedly bans its employees from using Android phones. The Redmond tech giant, as first reported by Bloomberg, will require Chinese-based employees to switch to iPhones starting in September.

All employees, even those using Huawei or Xiaomi devices, will get an iPhone 15 as a “one-time purchase.” The report details concerns over cybersecurity and the fragmented nature of Android app stores in China, which lack Google’s mobile services, but it’s an inevitable domino effect that we’ve been (sort of) expecting.

The Windows makers faced quite an exhausting laundry list of cybersecurity attacks in recent years. Part of them was the SolarWinds attack that allowed Russian hackers (APT29 or Cozy Bear) to breach multiple US government agencies and monitor emails for months. It was so bad that the White House had an emergency meeting and the FBI was involved.

And if that’s not enough, last year, Chinese hackers (Storm-0558) also exploited a Microsoft cloud vulnerability to access emails from around 25 organizations, including some US government agencies, for a month before being detected. The list goes on.

Microsoft then launched the Secure Future Initiatives, after these attacks. In hindsight, Microsoft said that it will integrate more automation and AI tech into its software development process, have a faster response to vulnerabilities, enhance default security settings, and improve the protection of encryption keys.

And as for the security settings, Microsoft will start implementing stronger defaults, especially for Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to to lower the chances of unauthorized access.

These changes will take effect in September 2024, and as a part of that, Microsoft encourages its employees to switch to iPhones and ditch Android because the latter’s environment does not fully support Microsoft’s MFA requirement and Google’s mobile services in China.

The Redmond company has yet to respond to journalists’ questions regarding the decision.