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Amazon Workspaces gets MFA security update

Amazon Web Services has added multifactor authentication to its WorkSpaces cloud desktop service, the first step in a larger effort to bolster AWS security.

Amazon Web Services Wednesday sought to improve the security of its cloud desktop service by adding multifactor authentication.

Amazon WorkSpaces, the cloud-based desktop service that the cloud computing giant introduced last November, will now support multifactor authentication (MFA) security based on an on-premise RADIUS server, enabling WorkSpaces users to log in with their Active Directory credentials plus a one-time-password delivered by a hardware or software token.

In a blog post, Jeff Barr, chief evangelist for Amazon Web Services (AWS), wrote that the MFA security feature "should work with any security provider that supports RADIUS authentication," adding that Amazon has already verified its implementation for Symantec Corp. Validation and ID Protection Service and Microsoft Radius Server products.

Barr said the feature, which is available now for WorkSpaces customers at no extra charge, supports the PAP, CHAP, MS-CHAP1 and MS-CHAP2 protocols, along with RADIUS proxies. He also said the feature can be configured in the WorkSpaces console by entering basic connection information, such as IP addresses, protocol and timeout for users' RADIUS server fleets in the directories section of console.

Barr said the MFA security feature is just the first step in a larger effort to bolster security and authentication features for AWS.

"As is the case with every part of AWS, we plan to enhance this feature over time," Barr wrote. "Although I'll stick to our usual policy of not spilling any beans before their time, I can say that we expect to add support for additional authentication options such as smart cards and certificates."

Barr also wrote that AWS made additional enhancements to WorkSpaces last month that are designed to improve integration with users' on-premises Active Directory. For example, customers can search for and select the desired Organizational Unit from their Active Directory and use separate domains for users and resources.

WorkSpaces, which starts at $35 per desktop per month, can be accessed from laptops and other mobile devices such as iPads, Android tablets, and of course, Amazon's own Kindle Fire tablets.

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