This article describes how to make the user onboarding experience into MFA as smooth as possible by pre-registering MFA methods.
Disclaimer: This article only applies to organizations that have decided to use Phone Number for verification. This is not recommended but in some organizations, they are unable to avoid this for a variety of reasons. If you want to learn why phone number verification is weak, check out the Microsoft Article: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/azure-active-directory-identity/it-s-time-to-hang-up-on-phone-transports-for-authentication/ba-p/1751752
The most ideal scenario would be to deploy Passwordless MFA, such as Windows Hello for Business, Authenticator App, FIDO2 Keys, or Certificate (Preview). You might issue a Temporary Access Pass to allow users to register passwordless methods without knowing the password to the account.
For more information on planning a passwordless deployment, click here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/active-directory/authentication/howto-authentication-passwordless-deployment
Ever wonder what is required to pre-register a user for Phone or Email?
The “Authentication Methods” page displayed in Portal.Azure.com > Azure Active Directory > Users, allows you to pre-define the phone number that would be used for MFA.
If you use Always ON MFA, then you can set the user to Enforced. This can be automated with a GUI or PowerShell, or the preferred method would be to use a Conditional Access Policy (if you have Azure AD P1 or EMS E3 or M365 E3).
Their very first sign-in experience would be:
Otherwise, if you only populate the Mobile Phone field (such as in on-premises Active Directory, and then it synchronizes to Azure AD) then the user’s first sign-in experience will be to verify that the number shown is correct.
To populate the mobile phone using PowerShell, you can use PowerShell as described here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/active-directory/authentication/howto-sspr-authenticationdata
But if you want to populate the Authentication Phone Number (so that the user can skip the registration page) then the PowerShell gets a little bit more involved.
Method 1 – Using PowerShell version 1 as described here: bulk Pre-registration for Azure MFA for more Seamless Single Sign on and smooth for MFA roll out – Microsoft Tech Community
Method 2 – Using MS Graph as described here: Pre-configure Authentication Methods for end users in Azure AD – Identity Man (identity-man.eu)
Note: After September 30th 2022, the Combined Registration feature will be enabled in all tenants worldwide. This means that if you are using Self Service Password Reset, then the registration experience for users will be combined.
Therefore, instead of waiting until September, I would enable that feature now so that you can update your end-user facing documentation and user communications once rather than twice.
Learn more about Combined Registration here: Combined registration for SSPR and Azure AD Multi-Factor Authentication – Azure Active Directory | Microsoft Docs