NIST authenticator assurance level 1 with Azure Active Directory

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) develops technical requirements for US federal agencies implementing identity solutions. Organizations must meet these requirements when working with federal agencies.

Before you begin authenticator assurance level 1 (AAL1), you can review the following resources:

Permitted authenticator types

To achieve AAL1, you can use any NIST single-factor or multifactor permitted authenticator. Note that Password and Phone (SMS) are not covered in AAL2 or AAL3.

Azure AD authentication method NIST authenticator type
Password memorized secret
Phone (SMS) out-of-band
FIDO 2 security key
Microsoft Authenticator app for iOS (passwordless)
Windows Hello for Business with software TPM
Smartcard (Active Directory Federation Services)
Multi-factor crypto software


We recommend you meet at least AAL2. If necessary, meet AAL3 for business reasons, industry standards, or compliance requirements.

FIPS 140 validation

Verifier requirements

Azure AD uses the Windows FIPS 140 Level 1 cryptographic module for its authentication cryptographic operations. It's therefore a FIPS 140-compliant verifier required by government agencies.

Man-in-the-middle resistance

Communications between the claimant and Azure AD are over an authenticated, protected channel, to resist man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks. This configuration satisfies the MitM-resistance requirements for AAL1, AAL2, and AAL3.

Next steps

NIST overview

Learn about AALs

Authentication basics

NIST authenticator types

Achieve NIST AAL1 with Azure AD

Achieve NIST AAL2 with Azure AD

Achieve NIST AAL3 with Azure AD