Microsoft Introduces OneDrive Personal Vault, Adds 2FA to Cloud Security
Microsoft has made some changes to its OneDrive service that could entice potential users who have avoided the cloud to date based on security concerns. They’ve also adjusted OneDrive pricing and tweaked storage offers for Office 365 users. The security changes, however, are the most interesting from our perspective.
According to Microsoft, OneDrive now comes with the capability to store data within the OneDrive Personal Vault, a special area of storage that you define. Accessing data within the PV requires an additional authentication step of one type or another. Here’s Microsoft’s description:
Personal Vault is a protected area in OneDrive that you can only access with a strong authentication method or a second step of identity verification, such as your fingerprint, face, PIN, or a code sent to you via email or SMS. Your locked files in Personal Vault have an extra layer of security, keeping them more secured in the event that someone gains access to your account or your device… Just enter a PIN, or use your fingerprint, face, or a code delivered by email or SMS1 to unlock and access your files—no need to remember multiple passwords. Additionally, Personal Vault can be unlocked with the Microsoft Authenticator app. Whichever way you choose, unlocking is quick, convenient, and helps secure your data.
This is a fairly interesting set of capabilities and could address some of the concerns individuals have had regarding the use of private cloud services. The ability to set a personal form of two-factor authentication using a personal PIN provides additional data security for anyone concerned about cloud access to files.
Obviously, this isn’t going to be identical to an actual private small-scale server that you run and administer from home. But if you care about the global access and mobile integration that Microsoft provides, the ability to combine additional security with existing OneDrive features is a solid one and I say that as someone who has previously been pretty dubious on cloud storage.
Files are kept encrypted while in transit and at rest. Personal Vault files copied over to your own PC are stored in a section of the hard drive encrypted with BitLocker. Personal Vault also relocks the device after a period of inactivity (you can set how long) to make certain that data remain sandboxed and inaccessible. Personal Vault will roll out “soon” to Australia, New Zealand, and Canada and will be available everywhere by years end.
As for the pricing plan, OneDrive now offers 100GB of storage for $1.99 per month, up from 50GB. If you already use 50GB of storage, congratulations, the company is going to give you another 50GB for no additional cost. OneDrive users with Office 365 subscriptions now have the option to acquire more than 1TB of storage. 200GB of additional storage can be added for $1.99 per month, up to a second TB at $9.99 per month.