About Michel de Rooij

I'm a Microsoft Office Apps and Services MVP, with focus on Exchange Server, Microsoft 365 and an affection for PowerShell. I'm is a consultant, publisher of EighTwOne, published author, and speaker. You can find me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook.

Security Updates Exchange 2013-2019 (Aug2022)

The Exchange product group released Augustus updates for Exchange Server 2013, 2016 and 2019.

Note that per the previous May cycle, Security Updates will be packaged in an executable wrapper. This should trigger the running elevated prompt, thus preventing any potential issues when admins simply double-click the .MSP file. More about the new package format, options for logging and command-line switches are mentioned in an article dedicated to the change of distribution method here.

Windows Extended Protection
Special attention in this cycle for Windows Extended Protection, which needs to be enabled to address certain vulnerabilities. WEP is ONLY supported for specific versions of Exchange server – see the documentation for details regarding requirements and known issues. TLDR; – list might change over time, consult the pages linked earlier:

  • Requirements
    • Supported on Exchange 2013 CU23, Exchange 2016 CU22 and Exchange Server 2019 CU11 or later, with the August 2022 Security Updates installed.
    • Cannot be enabled on Exchange Server 2013 servers hosting Public Folders in co-existence with Exchange 2016/2019.
    • Cannot be enabled on Exchange 2016 CU22 or Exchange 2019 CU11 or older hosting a Public Folder Hierarchy.
    • Does not work with hybrid servers using Modern Hybrid configuration.
    • SSL Offloading scenarios are currently not supported.
    • Consistent TLS configuration is required across all Exchange servers.
  • Known Issues
    • Retention Policies using action Move to Archive stops working.
    • In Exchange 2013, the MAPI over HTTP probe OutlookMapiHttpCtpProbe might show FAILED.

To perform prerequisite checks and implement WEP, a supporting script ExchangeExtendedProtectionManagement.ps1 has been published. Since enabling WEP impacts how clients and Exchange server communicates, it is highly recommended to test this first on your specific configuration, especially with 3rd party products, before enabling it in production.

Security Updates
So, on with the security updates. The vulnerabilities addressed in the Security Updates for August are:

VulnerabilityCategorySeverityRating
CVE-2022-21979Information DisclosureImportantCVSS:3.1 4.8 / 4.2
CVE-2022-21980Elevation of PrivilegeCriticalCVSS:3.1 8.0 / 7.0
CVE-2022-24477Elevation of PrivilegeCriticalCVSS:3.1 8.0 / 7.0
CVE-2022-24516Elevation of PrivilegeCriticalCVSS:3.1 8.0 / 7.0
CVE-2022-30134Elevation of PrivilegeImportantCVSS:3.1 7.6 / 6.6
CVE-2022-34692Information DisclosureImportantCVSS:3.1 5.3 / 4.6

The following Security Updates address this vulnerability:

ExchangeDownloadBuildKBSupersedes
Exchange 2019 CU12Download15.2.1118.12KB5015322KB5014261
Exchange 2019 CU11Download15.2.986.29KB5015322KB5014261
Exchange 2016 CU23Download15.1.2507.12KB5015322KB5014261
Exchange 2016 CU22Download15.1.2375.31KB5015322KB5014261
Exchange 2013 CU23Download15.0.1497.40KB5015321KB5014260

These Security Updates also fix the following issues:

  • KB5017261 Start-DatabaseAvailabilityGroup fails with BlockedDeserializeTypeException
  • KB5017430 E-Discovery search fails in Exchange Online

Be advised that these security updates are Cumulative Update level specific. You cannot apply the update for Exchange 2019 CU12 to Exchange 2019 CU11. Also, the security update download has the same name for different Cumulative Updates, and I would suggest tagging the file name with the CU level, e.g. Exchange2019-CU12-KBXXXXXX-x64-en.msp.

Exchange servers running as part of hybrid deployment are running services, and thus need to be included in the patch cycle. If you are running Exchange 2019 CU12 Management Tools-only (for recipient management), you do not need to deploy this SU.

On a final note, as with any patch or update, I’d recommend to apply this in a test environment first, prior to implementing it in production. However, it is not recommended to wait for regular maintenance cycles when it concerns security updates, and follow a more agile approach; the ratings are an indication of the urgency.

MVP’s around the World (2022)

A new Microsoft MVP award cycle, a new moment to have a look at the MVP statistics. Below numbers are taken from the public MVP site. July 1st is normally the day of the award cycle, but this year got delayed for a few days due to unknown circumstances. Because people get awarded every month, the comparison to July of every year should give an idea of the yearly trend.

Few points of attention:

  • Apparently, during the award cycle MVP’s located in Russia or Belarus were removed, including MVP’s that were awarded in the first half of 2022 and thus not up for renewal.
  • 19 anonymous MVP awardees do not disclose location. Those are not represented in below numbers.
  • The Office Development category was rebranded M365 Development.
  • The Office Apps & Services category was rebranded M365 Apps & Services.

Awardees per Category

The following table contains the awardees per award category from July of 2019 up to 2022, plus change percentage. It therefor does not reflect on changes during the year (people newly awarded or moving to Microsoft). I will leave the interpretation up to you.

ExpertiseJul’19Jul’20%Jul’21%Jul’22%
Cloud and Datacenter Management232209-10%2195%164-25%
Microsoft Azure40946313%53415%5462%
M365 Apps & Services4915124%5569%492-12%
Business Applications16624045%32335%3519%
Data Platform3323588%3929%364-7%
Developer Technologies6446978%77010%715-7%
Enterprise Mobility1061037%13318%14912%
AI8412245%13813%128-7%
M365 Development476436%698%59-14%
Windows Development119110-8%1209%92-23%
Windows and Devices for IT5743-25%42-2%457%
Total no. of Awards268729319%329612%3105-6%
Total no. of MVP’s263428508%322413%3024-6%

Note: The difference between total number of awards and total number of MVP’s is caused by MVP’s awarded in multiple categories. A total of 124 MVP’s were awarded in two or more categories.

M365 Apps & Services per Country

When zooming in on the M365 Apps & Services category, the awards per country are shown below, including the % change compared to last year. As you might notice, there are quiet a number of countries without MVP’s compared to last year.

CountryNumberCountryNumberCountryNumberCountryNumber
AUS26 (-4%)FRA16 (-34%)NZL6 (0%)ESP10 (-34%)
AUT3 (-25%)DEU30 (-4%)NGA4 (0%)LKA0 (-100%)
BEL5 (0%)GHA1 (0%)NOR5 (-29%)SWE8 (-20%)
BIH1 (0%)GRC1 (0%)PAK1 (0%)CHE2 (-50%)
BRA12 (-15%)HUN1 (-50%)PER1 (0%)TWN4 (0%)
BGR3 (0%)IND10 (-29%)POL5 (-38%)THA2 (0%)
KHM1 (0%)IRL1 (-75%)PRT3 (0%)NLD22 (4%)
CAN34 (-15%)ISR3 (0%)RUS0 (-100%)TUR2 (0%)
CHN19 (0%)ITA4 (0%)SAU1 (-50%)UKR2 (0%)
COL5 (-29%)JPN17 (-15%)SEN1 (0%)ARE1 (-50%)
HRV5 (0%)KOR14 (-18%)SRB0 (-100%)GBR37 (-16%)
CZE2 (0%)MKD2 (0%)SGP4 (0%)USA112 (-16%)
DNK5 (-29%)MYS1 (0%)SVK1 (0%)URY1 (0%)
EGY1 (0%)MEX8 (0%)SVN2 (0%)VNM1 (0%)
SLV1 (0%)MMR1 (0%)ZAF4 (0%)  
FIN5 (-17%)NPL0 (-100%)    

If you have questions or comments, please leave them in the comments below.

Exchange Announcements

Few days ago, the Exchange Product made several announcements related to Exchange Server and its future. The overall message throughout these announcements can be interpreted as that Microsoft is publicly declaring to be committed to developing and supporting the Exchange Server product. This is especially of interest to those customers running it as part of their on-premises infrastructure. It is also assuring those that believe the road ahead was a dead end, eventually forcing them to move to Exchange Online, or look for alternatives.

The announcements made were in the area of:

  • Lifecycle policies remain intact for current versions of Exchange Server.
  • The next version of Exchange Server, also known as Exchange vNext, will move to a continuous support model, but comes with requirements.
  • Upgrade path for Exchange vNext.
  • Modern Authentication support for non-hybrid Exchange 2019 deployments.
  • Exchange 2019 support for TLS 1.3.
  • Possibility to receive pre-release builds of Exchange server through Microsoft’s TAP program.
  • Exchange Admin Center will receive overview section for Exchange servers update status in Exchange hybrid deployments.
  • HCW will allow admins to skip configuration steps.
  • Script to remove obsolete mitigations from EEMS.
  • Microsoft Exchange Conference Community Virtual Airlift (MEC) for September 13-14! (register)
  • Feedback forums for Exchange Online and Exchange Server.

More details on these announcements can be found in the full article on the announcements, and can be found here at the ENow Solutions blog.

Analyzing Exchange Online scripts

Since the original announcement on deprecation of Basic Authentication, organizations had time to analyze their environment which may include Exchange-related procedures and tools. These usually also contain scripts or commands, which depend on the Exchange Online Management module. A previous blog on its history and how version 2 of this module lends itself for unattended operation with certificate-based modern authentication support can be found here.

The initial release of the Exchange Online Management v2 – or EXOv2 – module offered a an additional small set of cmdlets which utilized REST-based services. Apart from the functional discrepancies, such as having to specify a property set to indicate which properties to return, the big advantage of these added commands was that they did not depend on the Windows Remote Management (WinRM) client using Basic Authentication for token exchange. Disabling Basic Authentication on WinRM client lead to messages such as:

Connecting to remote server outlook.office365.com failed with the following error message : The WinRM client cannot process the request. Basic authentication is currently disabled in the client configuration.

This dependency makes it challenging for organizations to turn off Basic Authentication altogether, or lead to problems when they did. Fast forward to the present, where the Exchange Online Management module in its current release is offering nearly all Exchange cmdlets in REST-based form, with full functional parity.

While I expect Microsoft to reach full command parity before they flick the Basic Authentication switch to off, there are also other use cases for which analyzing scripts might be helpful:

  • Ths initial purpose was identifying commands which require RPS (Remote PowerShell), and thus thus require WinRM Basic Authentication enabled. Because the Exchange Team did an amazing job in catching up in the recent months, only few Exchange Online cmdlets are still lacking REST support in my tenant at this moment, e.g. New-ApplicationAccessPolicy. But then again, your mileage may vary.
  • New Exchange Online commands may not receive immediate REST support.
  • Organizations might want to cross-reference commands with scripts.
  • Identifying Exchange Online commands and parameters in scripts helps in determining the minimum set of permissions required to run the script.

To analyze and report on Exchange Online scripts, I created a simple script Analyze-ExoScript.ps1. This script, which is available on GitHub here, does the following:

  • Connect to Exchange Online using RPS and inventory the commands available. Note that this requires the UseRPSSession switch when connecting, which is only available per 2.0.6-Preview3 of the module. If your organization only runs GA versions of the module, this script cannot be used.
  • Connect to Exchange Online using REST and inventory the commands available. It will re-use the account used for authenticating the RPS session, which should prevent receiving another authentication dialog or MFA challenge.
  • Cache cmdlet information in an external file to prevent having to connect to Exchange Online for every run. The file is named EXO-CmdletInfo.xml and will be stored in the same folder as the script.
  • Process the script and report on the Exchange-related commands used.

Usage
Calling Analyze-ExoScript is straightforward:

.\Analyze-ExoScript.ps1 [-File <FileName[]>] [-ShowAll] [-Refresh]

Where:

  • Filename is the name of one or more files which you cant to analyze. Note that the script accepted pipeline output, so you can also feed it filenames using Get-ChildItem for example.
  • The ShowAll switch tells the script to output all found commands, not only the Exchange ones.
  • The switch Refresh tells the script to ignore saved command information, trigger reconnecting to Exchange Online in order to refresh the command sets.

When asked to authenticate, make sure your role has the necessary Exchange-related permissions as that will determine the Exchange Online cmdlets available to you, and consequently also the commands which Analyze-ExoScript will recognize in scripts to process.

For example, to process a script Fix-MailboxFolders.ps1, use:

.\Analyze-ExoScript.ps1 -File .\Fix-MailboxFolders.ps1

The script can accept files via the pipeline. For example, to process multiple scripts use something like:

Get-ChildItem -Path C:\temp*.ps1 | Analyze-ExoScript.ps1

The output consists of objects, which allow for further filtering:

The returned properties are:

  • Command is the Exchange Online command identified
  • Type will tell you if the command supports REST, if it requires RPS, or it requires RPS but can be refactored (MAP) to a REST-based command, and which one that would be.
  • Parameters are the parameters used together with the command. This includes common parameters, which might be less usable for role assignment purposes.
  • File and Line are the file containing the command and on which line it is located.

AST
To analyze code, I leveraged PowerShell feature called Abstract Syntax Tree, which was an interesting exploration in itself. PowerShell AST can be used to decompose PowerShell code into tokens. This is way better than simply looking for strings, and does away with having to interpret code yourself to see if something is a command, comment or just some string. AST allows for analysis of these tokens, in this case filtering on commands which are related to Exchange Online. If you want to get started on AST, check out this article, or plunge in the PowerShell SDK straightaway.

Final Words
When every Exchange Online command discovered is found to be offering REST support, you can turn off Basic Authentication on the client, for example through GPO or by reconfiguring WinRM:

winrm set winrm/config/client/auth @{Basic="false"}

Only thing you might need to refactor is if and how the script connects to Exchange Online, as Basic Authentication allowed for connecting to Exchange Online using (stored) credentials for example. Examples on how to use more secure Modern Authentication-based methods to connect can be found in an earlier article here.

Security Updates Exchange 2013-2019 (May2022)

The Exchange PG released May updates for Exchange Server 2013, 2016 and 2019.

Note that per this cycle, Security Updates will be packaged in an executable wrapper. This should trigger the running elevated prompt, thus preventing any potential issues from simply double-clicking the .MSP file. More about the new package format, options for logging and command-line switches are mentioned in an article dedicated to the change of distribution method here.

The vulnerability addressed in the Security Updates for May is:

VulnerabilityCategorySeverityRating
CVE-2022-21978Elevation of PrivilegeImportantCVSS:3.1 8.2 / 7.1

The following Security Updates address this vulnerability:

ExchangeDownloadBuildKBSupersedes
Exchange 2019 CU12Download15.2.1118.9KB5014261
Exchange 2019 CU11Download15.2.986.26KB5014261
Exchange 2016 CU23Download15.1.2507.9KB5014261
Exchange 2016 CU22Download15.1.2375.28KB5014261
Exchange 2013 CU23Download15.0.1497.36KB5014260

The SU also fix the following issue:

  • KB5013118 Exchange Service Host service fails after installing March 2022 security update

Important: As mentioned in the announcement, you must run /PrepareAllDomains after deploying the SU because of hardening measures. Exception is when you have multiple domains and some of them are never prepped; in that case prepare the individual domains required. Using your currently deployed binaries, run the following command, where the /IAccept switch you need to use depends on the Exchange version deployed and whether you provide diagnostics information:

& $exbin\setup.exe /PrepareAllDomains /[IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms|IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms_DiagnosticDataON|IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms_DiagnosticDataOFF]

Be advised that these security updates are Cumulative Update level specific. You cannot apply the update for Exchange 2019 CU12 to Exchange 2019 CU11. Also, the security update download has the same name for different Cumulative Updates, and I would suggest tagging the file name with the CU level, e.g. Exchange2019-CU10-KBXXXXXX-x64-en.msp.

Exchange servers running as part of hybrid deployment are running services, and thus need to be included in the patch cycle. If you are running Exchange 2019 CU12 Management Tools-only (for recipient management), you do not need to deploy this SU.

On a final note, as with any patch or update, I’d recommend to apply this in a test environment first, prior to implementing it in production. However, it is not recommended to wait for regular maintenance cycles when it concerns security updates, and follow a more agile approach; the ratings are an indication of the urgency.

The Last Exchange Server

In the announcement of the most recent set of Cumulative Updates for Exchange Server 2019 and 2016, Microsoft introduced some changes – features if you will – as well, which were received with enthusiasm. An overview of these Cumulative Updates and the features introduced was given in an earlier article. In this article however, I would like to zoom in on one of those features, which also happens to be a popular topic among customers running Exchange Hybrid deployments, “The Last Exchange Server”.

Up to Exchange 2019 CU12 (2022 H1), customers that migrated to Exchange Online were still required to leave Exchange-related components running on-premises. Even today, with all the information published around this topic, I am surprised this still surprised customers. This Exchange server running on-premises is to be used for managing recipients which have their source of authority in Active Directory, leveraging Active Directory Connect to propagate objects to Azure Active Directory and thus Exchange Online. Also, when there is a need to relay messages from applications or multi-functional devices, customers often need to have an Exchange server on-premises to accept these messages, as Exchange is the only supported mail relay product for hybrid deployments.

Click here to read the full article on ENow Solutions blog.

Exchange Updates (and more) – H1 2022

20220423: Added TLS 1.3 note.

The Exchange Team released the quarterly half-yearly Cumulative Updates for Exchange Server 2019 and Exchange 2016. You read that right, half-yearly updates are replacing the cadence of quarterly update servicing model for Exchange Server. Effectively, this will be Exchange 2019 only, as Exchange 2016 will be out of mainstream support in H2 of 2022, and will therefor only receive Security Updates after this round. Note that this change also alters the effective ‘current’ state (n-1 or later) of your Exchange Server environment from half year to one year.

And that’s not the only good news that comes with these sets of updates. In short:

  • If you run Exchange 2019 in Hybrid only for the purpose of managing recipients, you can now use Exchange 2019 CU12’s Exchange Management Tools to accomplish this; no more need to have an Exchange server running just for this. More details here.
  • Exchange 2019 CU12 will reintroduce the Hybrid Key option. Its Hybrid Configuration Wizard supports this licensing method.
  • Exchange 2019 CU12 support managing the Hybrid Agent with MFA-enabled accounts.
  • Exchange 2019 CU12 adds support for Windows Server 2022, both for its underlying operating system, as well as deployment in environments running Windows Server 2022 Domain Controllers.
  • Note that while Windows Server 2022 supports TLS 1.3, Exchange 2019 CU12 on WS2022 does not yet support it. Adding support is scheduled for somewhere next year.
  • The supportability matrix has been updated for the supported Windows Server 2022 scenarios.
  • Exchange Server is now also part of Microsoft’s Bounty Program, which is an indication of continued focus for customers still running Exchange Servers on-premises.

Links to the updates as well as a description of changes and fixes are described below. The column Schema and AD indicate if the CU contains Schema (/PrepareSchema) and Active Directory (PrepareAD) changes compared to the previous CU. Refer to the Exchange Schema page for schema and related versioning information.

VersionBuildKBDownloadUMLPSchemaAD
Exchange 2019 CU1215.2.1118.7KB5011156Download NY
Exchange 2016 CU2315.1.2507.6KB5011155DownloadUMLPNY

Apart from DST changes and the fixes mentioned below, these Cumulative Updates also contain a change which will not allow using UNC paths with several cmdlets. More information about this change and cmdlets affected can be found here: KB5014278.

Exchange 2019 CU12 fixes:

  • 5012757 “Migration user… can’t be found” error when using Start-MigrationUser after batch migration fails
  • 5012758 Start-MailboxAssistant is not available in Exchange Server 2019
  • 5012760 You can’t access OWA or ECP after installing the July 2021 security update
  • 5012761 External attendees see “Send the Response Now” although no response was requested in Exchange Server
  • 5012762 PST creation is unexpectedly triggered again during multiple mailbox export
  • 5012765 Email stuck in queue starting from “2022/1/1 00:01:00 UTC+0” on all Exchange on-premises servers
  • 5012766 Transport Services fail repeatedly because of * Accepted Domain
  • 5012768 Start-MigrationUser and Stop-MigrationUser are unavailable for on-premises Exchange Server 2019 and 2016
  • 5012769 Invalid New Auth Certificate for servers that are not on UTC time zone
  • 5012770 No response from public folder for users migrating to Microsoft Exchange 2019
  • 5012772 Items are skipped at the start of a new search page request
  • 5012773 OWAMailboxPolicy is bypassed and high resolution profile images can be uploaded
  • 5012774 Can’t change default path for Trace log data in Exchange Server 2019 and 2016
  • 5012775 No additional global catalog column in the address book service logs
  • 5012776 Exchange Server 2019 help link in OWA redirects users to online help for Exchange Server 2016
  • 5012777 Can’t find forwarded messages that contain attachments in Exchange Server 2019
  • 5012778 Exchange Server stops responding when processing PDF files with set transport rule
  • 5012779 Invalid new auth certificate for servers that are not on UTC time zone
  • 5012780 Disable-Mailbox does not remove LegacyExchangeDN attribute from on-premises Exchange 2019
  • 5012781 Exchange Server 2019 and 2016 DLP doesn’t detect Chinese resident ID card numbers
  • 5012782 MS ExchangeDiagnostic Service causes errors during service startup and initialization in Microsoft Exchange 2019
  • 5012783 Can’t restore data of a mailbox when LegacyDN is empty in the database
  • 5012784 Exchange 2016 CU21 and Exchange 2019 CU10 cannot save “Custom Attributes” changes in EAC
  • 5012785 Read Only Domain Controllers (RODCs) in other domains do not get desired permissions
  • 5012786 Forwarded meeting appointments are blocked or considered spam
  • 5012787 Download domains created per CVE-2021-1730 don’t support ADFS authentication in OWA
  • 5012789 Can’t use Copy Search Results after eDiscovery & Hold search
  • 5012790 OWA doesn’t remove the “loading” image when a message is opened in Chrome and Edge browsers
  • 5012791 MailboxAuditLog doesn’t work in localized (non-English) environments

Exchange 2016 CU23 fixes:

  • 5012757 “Migration user… can’t be found” error when using Start-MigrationUser after batch migration fails
  • 5012760 You can’t access OWA or ECP after installing the July 2021 security update
  • 5012761 External attendees see “Send the Response Now” although no response was requested in Exchange Server
  • 5012765 Email stuck in queue starting from “2022/1/1 00:01:00 UTC+0” on all Exchange on-premises servers
  • 5012768 Start-MigrationUser and Stop-MigrationUser are unavailable for on-premises Exchange Server 2019 and 2016
  • 5012769 Invalid New Auth Certificate for servers that are not on UTC time zone
  • 5012774 Can’t change default path for Trace log data in Exchange Server 2019 and 2016
  • 5012779 Invalid new auth certificate for servers that are not on UTC time zone
  • 5012780 Disable-Mailbox does not remove LegacyExchangeDN attribute from on-premises Exchange 2019
  • 5012781 Exchange Server 2019 and 2016 DLP doesn’t detect Chinese resident ID card numbers
  • 5012782 MS ExchangeDiagnostic Service causes errors during service startup and initialization in Microsoft Exchange 2019
  • 5012783 Can’t restore data of a mailbox when LegacyDN is empty in the database
  • 5012784 Exchange 2016 CU21 and Exchange 2019 CU10 cannot save “Custom Attributes” changes in EAC
  • 5012786 Forwarded meeting appointments are blocked or considered spam
  • 5012787 Download domains created per CVE-2021-1730 don’t support ADFS authentication in OWA
  • 5012789 Can’t use Copy Search Results after eDiscovery & Hold search
  • 5012791 MailboxAuditLog doesn’t work in localized (non-English) environments
  • 5012829 Group metrics generation fails in multidomain environment

Notes:

  • If these Cumulative Updates contain schema changes compared to the Cumulative Update you currently have deployed, you need to run Setup with /PrepareSchema. If they contain Active Directory changes, you need to run /PrepareAD. Alternatively, permissions permitting, you can let Setup perform this step. Consult the Exchange schema versions page for schema and related versioning information.
  • When upgrading from an n-2 or earlier version of Exchange, or an early version of the .NET Framework, consult Upgrade Paths for CU’s & .NET.
  • Don’t forget to put the Exchange server in maintenance mode prior to updating. Regardless, setup will put the server in server-wide offline mode post-analysis, before making actual changes.
  • When using Exchange hybrid deployments or Exchange Online Archiving (EOA), support requires you to trail at most one version (n-1).
  • If you want to speed up the update process for systems without internet access, you can follow the procedure described here to disable publisher’s certificate revocation checking.
  • Cumulative Updates can be installed directly; no need to install RTM prior to installing Cumulative Updates.
  • Once upgraded, you can’t uninstall a Cumulative Update nor any of the installed Exchange server roles.
  • The recommended upgrade order is internet-facing, non-internet-facing servers first, followed by Edge Transports.

Caution:

As for any update, I recommend to thoroughly test updates in a test environment prior to implementing them in production. When you lack such facilities, hold out a few days and monitor the comments on the original publication or forums for any issues.

Basic Authentication: End of an Era

16jun2022: Added link to Apple Mail BasicAuth-OAuth flow announcement

Back in September 2019, Microsoft announced it would start to turn off Basic Authentication for non-SMTP protocols in Exchange Online on tenants where the authentication protocol was detected as inactive. This is part of an overall movement to deprecate the less secure Basic Authentication, which is unfit to face the security challenges of the modern world, being subject to things like password spray attacks. It’s modern successor, modern authentication or OAuth2, uses a token and claim based mechanism contrary to sending accounts and passwords, and is the preferred authentication method. When combined with Azure AD for authentication, Modern Authentication also supports features such as Multi-Factor Authentication or Conditional Access.

The original date for disabling of Basic Authentication was October 13th, 2020. Then the world had other matters to deal with, and Microsoft extended the timelines. After initially postponing turning Basic Authentication off to second half of 2021, the most recent – and final – start date for permanently turning the lights off for Basic Authentication is now set to October 1st, 2022, as per this article on Docs and MC286990 in the Message Center. Mind the ‘start’ in start date, as flicking the switch for millions of tenants takes time before it becomes effective on your tenant. Organizations do need to anticipate on this change for the first of October.

Until October, organizations can still (re-)enable Basic Authentication when they have a need, using the self-help system in the Microsoft 365 admin center. After entering “Diag: Enable Basic Auth in EXO” in the problem search query, the request will be checked, and Basic Authentication will get enabled. But with the end of support for Basic Authentication, so will this temporary workaround. On a side note, per end of 2020, newly created tenants already have basic authentication disabled by means of security defaults – if those organizations require Basic Authentication for some reason, they will also need to reconfigure security defaults which by default is an all or nothing option for all protocols.

So, with the doomsday counter ticking away for Basic Authentication, what are the consequences for Exchange related workloads organizations might wonder. In this article, I will address some of these concerns.

Update: Microsoft has finally disclosed some much awaited details on an upcoming change for the native Mail app on iOS. This change will add support for migrating accounts using Basic Authentication to using Modern Authentication (OAuth), provided some needed configuration took place. More details can be found here.

Click here to read the full article on ENow Solutions blog.

The Missing Cmdlets Mystery

A short blog on something which I find still surprises admins and consultants working with Exchange Online Management module for Powershell. The Exchange Online Management v2 module has been offering support for REST for a while now. One of the benefits of using these REST-based cmdlets, apart from performance and resilience, is that it uses Modern Authentication to connect to Exchange Online, which is the way forward, as Basic Authentication gets directed to the exit.

Now the initial versions of the module supported a limited set of 9 cmdlets. The REST cmdlets used the EXO prefix, such as Get-EXOMailbox as counterpart of Get-Mailbox. I wrote an earlier blog about using EXOv2, configuring the app in Azure and alternative ways to authenticate here.

Per version 2.0.6, which is still in preview, around 250 additional cmdlets got REST support as well, but using their original name and parameter set. You can check the number of cmdlets available after connecting, e.g.

Install-Module ExchangeOnlineManagement
Connect-ExchangeOnline -UserPrincipalName <UPN>
((Get-Module).Where{ $_.ExportedCommands.'Get-Mailbox'} | Select-Object -ExpandProperty ExportedCommands).GetEnumerator() | Measure-Object

As you can see above, after connecting this version supports 397 cmdlets for my role in addition to the 31 available pre-connecting. Your exact number might vary, based on the roles assigned to your account.

The confusion usually starts when people enter commands or run scripts, and find cmdlets are “missing”. Often they find that the Set/New cmdlet is unavailable, while the Get is available, e.g.

Before, this could be an indication those commands were removed from the role assigned to you, such as the New-MailboxImportRequest cmdlet which only is available if you have mailbox import/export assigned. But in this situation, it could be that the cmdlet does not have a REST call (yet). In those cases, you need to connect using a regular Remote PowerShell session, by specifying -UseRPSSession:

Connect-ExchangeOnline -UserPrincipalName <UPN> -UseRPSSession

When connecting this way, I have 739 cmdlets at my disposal, including the ones which do not support REST. Note that cmdlets which support REST still will use REST; the commands that require Remote PowerShell will use the imported cmdlet. As a reminder, Remote Powershell requires Basic Authentication, and therefor must be enabled on the system you are connecting from.

Tip: Did you know you can view the release notes of the installed Exchange Online Management module by inspecting the ReleaseNotes property, e.g.

(Get-Module ExchangeOnlineManagement).ReleaseNotes

Security Updates Exchange 2013-2019 (Mar2022)

The Exchange PG released March updates for Exchange Server 2013, 2016 and 2019. More detailed information on patching and how to get current when running an earlier CU of Exchange, can be found at the original blog post here.

The vulnerabilities addressed in these security updates are:

VulnerabilityCategorySeverityRating
CVE-2022-23277Remote Code ExecutionCriticalCVSS:3.1 8.8 / 7.7
CVE-2022-24463SpoofingImportantCVSS:3.1 6.5 / 5.7

These vulnerabilities are addressed in the following security updates below. The exception is KB5010324 which does not fix CVE-2022-24463 for Exchange 2013. If this is because of the severity classification or the problem being non-existent for Exchange 2013, has not been not disclosed.

ExchangeDownloadBuildKBSupersedes
Exchange 2019 CU11Download15.2.986.22KB5012698KB5008631
Exchange 2019 CU10Download15.2.922.27KB5012698KB5008631
Exchange 2016 CU22Download15.1.2375.24KB5012698KB5008631
Exchange 2016 CU21Download15.1.2308.27KB5012698KB5008631
Exchange 2013 CU23Download15.0.1497.33KB5010324KB5008631

Finally, KB5010324 also contains the following additional fix for Exchange 2013:

  • 5012925 RFC certificate timestamp validation in Exchange Server 2013

Be advised that these security updates are Cumulative Update level specific. You cannot apply the update for Exchange 2019 CU11 to Exchange 2019 CU10. Also, the security update download has the same name for different Cumulative Updates, and I would suggest tagging the file name with the CU level, e.g. Exchange2019-CU10-KBXXXXXX-x64-en.msp.

As a reminder, run the Security Update from an elevated command prompt to prevent issues during installation. In other words: Do not just double-click on the .MSP file. And on a final note, as with any patch or update, I’d recommend to apply this in a test environment first, prior to implementing it in production. However, it is not recommended to wait for regular maintenance cycles when it concerns security updates, and follow a more agile approach; the ratings are an indication of the urgency.