Retrieving Azure AD (Entra ID) Privileged Identity Management Role Assignments

Taking Account of PIM When Blocking User Access to Exchange Online PowerShell

In May, I wrote a article about disabling PowerShell access to Exchange Online for all but administrative accounts. Given the happiness of attackers to use PowerShell to attack Exchange (mostly against Exchange Server, but certainly also Exchange Online), it makes sense to remove the ability of “normal” users to run Exchange cmdlets.

In any case, the example script I use in the article demonstrates how to use the Get-MgDirectoryRoleMember cmdlet to find holders of the Exchange administrator and Global administrator roles. These are the people who need to run PowerShell against Exchange Online, so the script leaves their accounts intact. For anyone else, the script calls the Set-User cmdlet to disable PowerShell access. I suggest that the script is a good candidate for Azure Automation to make sure that new accounts can’t use PowerShell.

Privileged Identity Management

Everything works for most tenants. The problem is that some tenants use Azure AD Privileged Identity Management (PIM), an optional service that requires Azure AD Premium P2 licenses. PIM is most commonly used by large enterprises to control access to resources. Unlike normal open-ended permanent assignments to privileged roles like Exchange administrator, PIM allows the assignments to be time-limited on an on-demand basis.

To do this, PIM differentiates between eligible and active role assignments. An eligible role assignment is not currently effective. If needed, an administrator can activate the assignment to allow its holder to use the permissions available to active role holders. Assignments can be time-limited and expire after a certain period. A comment for the original article pointed out that it didn’t handle PIM assignments and the script is therefore unusable in tenants that use PIM.

If you look at role assignments through the Privileged Identity Management section of the Microsoft Entra admin center, you can see those with eligible, active, and expired assignments for the different roles used in the tenant. Figure 1 shows the active assignments for the Exchange administrator and Global administrator roles. You can see that some service principals are in the set of Exchange administrators. Azure Automation uses these service principals to allow managed identities to sign into Exchange Online and run cmdlets as an administrator.

 PIM assignments for the Exchange administrator and Global administrator roles
Figure 1: PIM assignments for the Exchange administrator and Global administrator roles

The problem is that the Get-MgDirectoryRoleMember cmdlet only reports active role assignments. The assignments eligible for activation are ignored. For the purposes of this exercise, tenants using PIM must include accounts with eligible assignments when determining what accounts can access PowerShell.

Privileged Identity Management APIs

After some searching, I found a script written by Paul Contreras that explains how to get PIM role assignments for Azure AD. The script uses the Get-AzureADMSPrivilegedRoleAssignment cmdlet from the AzureADPreview module to retrieve assignments.

Given that the AzureADPreview module is due for deprecation in March 2024, I looked for an equivalent Microsoft Graph PowerShell SDK cmdlet. Microsoft’s cmdlet map to help developers move from the Azure AD and MSOL modules to the SDK didn’t help. I had great hope for the Get-MgBetaRoleManagementDirectoryRoleAssignment cmdlet but the cmdlet appears to only return “normal” role assignments.

One complication is that the current (beta) Graph API for governance role assignments is due for deprecation. Its documentation points to “Privileged Identity Management iteration 2 APIs.” Obviously, the underlying APIs are in a state of change, so the lack of SDK support isn’t surprising.

Amending the Role Assignment Script for PIM

I took the original script and amended it to use Get-AzureADMSPrivilegedRoleAssignment to fetch the assignments known for the Global administrator and Exchange administrator roles.

Write-Output "Retrieving assignment information from Privileged Identity Management..."      
# Get information about accounts holding Exchange administrator
[array]$ExoRoleMembers = Get-AzureADMSPrivilegedRoleAssignment -ProviderId aadRoles -ResourceId $TenantId -Filter "RoleDefinitionId eq '$($ExoAdminRoleId)'" -ErrorAction Stop | Select-Object RoleDefinitionId, SubjectId, StartDateTime, EndDateTime, AssignmentState, MemberType   
If (!($ExoRoleMembers)) { Write-Output "Can't find any Exchange administrators! Exiting..." ; break }  

# Do the same for global administrators
[array]$GARoleMembers = Get-AzureADMSPrivilegedRoleAssignment -ProviderId aadRoles -ResourceId $TenantId -Filter "RoleDefinitionId eq '$($GlobalAdminRoleId)'" -ErrorAction Stop | Select-Object RoleDefinitionId, SubjectId, StartDateTime, EndDateTime, AssignmentState, MemberType
If (!($GARoleMembers)) { Write-Output "Can't find any global administrators! Exiting..." ; break }

The script then loops through the arrays of assignments to fetch details of user account (with Get-MgUser) and members of groups used for PIM (with Get-MgGroupMember). The script stores information about the assignments that we can report (Figure 2).

Reporting PIM role assignments

Privileged Identity Management
Figure 2: Reporting PIM role assignments

The next step is to create an array of administrator user principal names to check against Exchange mailboxes. Basically, if a mailbox belongs to an administrator, we allow PowerShell access. If it doesn’t, we block PowerShell access.

[array]$ExoMailboxes = Get-ExoMailbox -Filter {CustomAttribute5 -eq $Null} -ResultSize Unlimited -RecipientTypeDetails UserMailbox -Properties CustomAttribute5
ForEach ($Mbx in $ExoMailboxes) {
   # If not an admin holder, go ahead and block PowerShell
   If ($Mbx.userPrincipalName -notin $AdminAccounts) {
     Write-Output ("Blocking PowerShell access for mailbox {0}..." -f $Mbx.displayName)
     Try {
         Set-User -Identity $Mbx.userPrincipalName -RemotePowerShellEnabled $False -Confirm:$False
         $MessageText = "PowerShell disabled on " + (Get-Date -format s)
         Set-Mailbox -Identity $Mbx.userPrincipalName -CustomAttribute5 $MessageText
     Catch {
         Write-Output ("Error disabling PowerShell for mailbox {0}" -f $Mbx.userPrincipalNane )
} # End ForEach

An improvement to the original script is that the final step is to check that administrator accounts have PowerShell access. This is to pick up new administrators that receive individual PIM assignments or join a group with a PIM assignment.

Write-Output "Checking administrator mailboxes to make sure that they have PowerShell access..."
ForEach ($Mbx in $AdminAccounts) {
   [string]$mbx = $mbx
   $PSEnabled = (Get-User -Identity $Mbx  -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue).RemotePowerShellEnabled
   If (!($PsEnabled)) {
        Write-Output ("Resetting PowerShell access for admin account {0}" -f $Mbx)
        Set-User -Identity $Mbx -RemotePowerShellEnabled $True -Confirm:$False 

The full script is available from GitHub.

Always Learning

The nice thing about working with Microsoft 365 is that there’s always something to learn. Authors learn from the comments posted for our articles. The comments force us to research before we can answer questions posed by readers. That’s a good thing.

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2 Replies to “Retrieving Azure AD (Entra ID) Privileged Identity Management Role Assignments”

  1. Great article and script as always, thank you! I am doing something similar, although in a slightly different way, but I’m also monitoring the Azure AD logs for changes in assignments using Get-MgAuditLogDirectoryAudit ( This is so we get alerted when someone is assigned a key PIM role, such as Exchange Admin or Global Admin for example. Just in case someone sneaky manages to get added to a role, does something, and then removes him/herself from that role, which a script monitoring the members wouldn’t catch.

    1. Or use Search-UnifiedAuditLog to detect when people are added to a role:

      $records = Search-UnifiedAuditLog -StartDate 12-jul-2023 -EndDate 13-jul-2023 -Formatted -ResultSize 5000 -Operations “Add member to role”

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