Exchange ActiveSync and Inheritable Permissions issue

The issue and solution described here is by design, but not known by every customer so here’s my short write-up on this subject.

Recently, I was at a customer reporting issues with several users not being able to synchronize their mobile devices using ActiveSync. The customer was running Exchange 2010 SP1 and used various mobile devices, e.g. iPhones as well as Android phones and tablets. A quick look in the IIS logs revealed that devices were connecting properly, but they received HTTP return code 403 (forbidden):

2011-08-30 10:09:31 172.16.10.12 OPTIONS /Microsoft-Server-ActiveSync/default.eas User=XXXXX&DeviceId=d849cec9be024c828b9af73da93bb59b&DeviceType=htcbravo&Log=LdapC2_Error:UserPrincipalCouldNotBeFound_Dc:dc.domain.com_Budget:(D)Conn%3a1%2cHangingConn%3a0%2cAD%3a%24null%2f%24null%2f0%25%2cCAS%3a%24null%2f%24null%2f0%25%2cAB%3a%24null%2f%24null%2f0%25%2cRPC%3a%24null%2f%24null%2f0%25%2cFC%3a1000%2f0%2cPolicy%3aDefaultThrottlingPolicy%5Fe205201e-d418-409a-a15b-4b51baef9bf4%2cNorm%5bResources%3a(DC)dc.domain.com(Health%3a-1%25%2cHistLoad%3a0)%2c%5d_ 443 domain\XXXXX 62.140.137.149 Android-EAS/0.1 403 0 0 124

Another clue was provided by the eventlog, which revealed MSExchange ActiveSync was reporting error 1053:

ss

The remainder of the message reads: “Make sure the user has inherited permission granted to domain\Exchange Servers to allow List, Create child, Delete child of object type “msExchangeActiveSyncDevices” and doesn’t have any deny permissions blocking such operations”. What happens when setting up ActiveSync is that Exchange tries to create a container named ExchangeActiveSyncDevices below the user object in Active Directory and will store in that container an MsExchActiveSync object for each ActiveSync device. Apparently Exchange doesn’t have sufficient permissions to create these objects.

To fix this, open up Active Directory Users and Computers. Now, to be able to inspect the security settings, we first need to activate Advanced Features if not already set. To do this, from the View menu option, select Advanced Features.

Next, navigate to the user object experiencing the issue. Open up Properties, select the Security tab and click Advanced.

image

Notice the Include inheritable permissions from this object’s parent is not set, the reason for Exchange not having any permissions on the object.

To fix the issue, simply check Include inheritable permissions from this object’s parent and click OK. You’ll return to the previous window where you’ll notice the Exchange Server account is now granted permissions on the object:

image

At this point, ActiveSync will work and Exchange will be able to create MsExchActiveSync objects in the ExchangeActiveSyncDevices container:

image

Note that Include inheritable permissions from this object’s parent by default is not enabled for members of the protected groups, e.g. Domain Admins. In fact, every hour the DACL on members of protected groups will be reset and inheritable permissions will be removed. This process is called AdminSDHolder which is to prevent inappropriate changes from being made to protected groups, accidently or otherwise.  Michael B. Smith did a nice write-up on this subject here. This is also the reason why bypassing the AdminSDHolder limitation by manually granting Exchange permissions would be inappropriate.

To prevent this issue, it is recommend to follow an old, yet far from rusty administrator best practice, which is to use one account for day-to-day operations, e.g. work and e-mail, and another account for administrative purposes.

Exchange & Windows Phone 7

This TechNet article on Windows Phone 7 got my attention. It appears you cannot fully utilize Exchange ActiveSync mailbox policies, unless you set AllowNonProvisionableDevices to True. If you don’t do that, you can only use the following properties, otherwise synchronization issues might be experienced:

  • PasswordRequired
  • MinPasswordLength
  • IdleTimeoutFrequencyValue
  • DeviceWipeThreshold
  • AllowSimplePassword
  • PasswordExpiration
  • PasswordHistory
  • DisableRemovableStorage
  • DisableIrDA
  • DisableDesktopSync
  • BlockRemoteDesktop
  • BlockInternetSharing

Another option is to create a seperate policy for Windows Phone 7 users.

Another thing worth mentioning is that when using multiple Exchange accounts on your Windows Phone 7, policies will be merged into a most restrictive set (credit to Dave Stork who got the information at TEE10).

Exchange ActiveSync and Hotmail

As of Monday, it is possible to synchronise your Hotmail account, i.e. e-mail, calendar and contacts, with your mobile using Exchange ActiveSync (EAS).

To synchronise your mobile with Hotmail, use the following settings:

Server m.hotmail.com
Username E-mail address, e.g. jandvries@hotmail.com
Password *****
Domain Leave blank
SSL Enabled

When asked, choose to accept the SSL certificate.

Synchronisation currently works for Windows Mobile 6.x, Windows Phone 7, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Nokia E/S/N-Series with Mail for Exchange.

iOS 4.0.1 fixes ActiveSync issues

Apple published an update for iOS4 – iOS 4.0.1 – which should fix the synchronization issues between iPhone users using iOS4 and Exchange Server.

The issue was discovered after Apple released iOS 4.0, after which many people reported issues syncing their updated iPhone 4, iPhone 3G, 3GS or iPod Touch devices with Exchange. Initially Apple released a workaround in the form of a configuration profile which increased timeout values to 240 seconds, instead of 30. Note that iOS 4.0.1 also sets the timeout to 240 seconds as the new default.

You can view the support article (ts3398) here.

Windows Phone 7 to support multiple Exchange accounts

I seem to have missed the news from a few days back that during a broadcast on the @ch9live development network , Joe Belfiore, Microsoft Corporate Vice President for Windows Mobile, confirmed multiple Exchange account support in Windows Phone 7 Series. Goodbye to unsupported hacks or POP/IMAP’ing those additional Exchange boxes. I assume includes all the additional benefits like Direct Push (hello battery life!).

In addition, Belfiore stated that on Windows Phone 7 various calendars will be displayed in a single view using coler coding to differentiate between the calendars (i.e. accounts).

Thanks to fellow Exchange guy Magnus Björk for spotting this one.