The upcoming removal of support for basic authentication in seven Exchange Online connectivity protocols could mean trouble for some Office 365 tenants if they don’t take care to ensure that modern authentication is used for PowerShell connections. The old-style Remote PowerShell connection must be replaced with the Connect-ExchangeOnline cmdlet from the Exchange Online management module (aka the V2 module). Apart from anything else, this should improve the performance and robustness of scripts, especially after Microsoft finishes the work to remove the WinRM dependency for older cmdlets.
The road to modern authentication for Exchange Online is littered with things to do. One action item is to check Apple iOS and iPad devices using Exchange ActiveSync to connect to mailboxes. If these devices were configured to connect to Exchange Online before iOS 12, they’re likely using basic authentication. Right now, the only way to move them to modern authentication is to remove Exchange from the mail app and add Exchange again. It’s a bump on the way to modern authentication in October 2022.
The Microsoft 365 admin center includes the ability to manage settings for the default Exchange Online authentication policy. You might have other policies to allow selective access with basic authentication to some protocols; these policies must be managed with PowerShell. Authentication policies are part of the journey to eliminate basic authentication from Exchange Online, now expected to happen in mid-2021.
Azure Active DIrectory is getting a slimmed-down background image to help with bandwidth-constrained locations. Office 365 tenants with custom backgrounds won’t see the change. Customizing the appearance of the sign-in screen is easy if you prepare. And to finish up, we have pointers to a set of videos about how Azure Active Directory authentication works.
Some doubt that Exchange Online will disable basic authentication for five email connection protocols in October 2020. The refrain is that it will be too hard for customers. Well, it might be hard to prepare to eliminate basic authentication, but if you don’t, your Office 365 tenant will be increasingly threatened by attacks that exploit known weaknesses.
Microsoft plans to disable basic authentication for five Exchange Online connection protocols on October 13, 2020. They’ve been clear on this point for several months and are now moving to deliver tools and provide guidance about what people should do about clients that use basic auth connections with Exchange Web Services, Exchange ActiveSync, IMAP4, POP3, and Remote PowerShell. Work is needed to make sure that clients are prepared for the switchover to modern authentication.
Microsoft has announced that basic authentication for multiple email connection protocols won’t be supported after October 13, 2020. You won’t be able to connect with EWS, EAS, IMAP4, POP3, or Remote PowerShell unless you use modern authentication. There’s just over a year to prepare, but there’s some work to be done.
Microsoft has released a preview of the cmdlet set to allow tenants to create and manage protocol authentication policies for Exchange Online. It’s a great chance to disable basic authentication and reduce the attack surface for password spraying.