Microsoft Cloud URLs

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I’ve started to put together a list of unique URL’s from Microsoft Cloud services such as Azure and Microsoft 365. Typically you navigate to individual services inside the main portal. However, this file I am maintaining on my Office 365 GitHub repository:

https://github.com/directorcia/Office365/blob/master/urls.txt

has a direct link to the services so you can navigate there directly.

I’ll keep adding to these over time, so ensure you check back regularly. if you know any URL’s you reckon should be included, let me know and I’ll add them.

Need to Know podcast–Episode 206

A short sharp episode focusing on the latest news and updates from Microsoft Build. Brenton and I cover off all the Microsoft Cloud news, good and bad as there is unfortunately some bad news to report in recent experiences with Azure. However, there is also lots of good news about updates to your favourite services. Tune in and give us your feedback.

This episode was recorded using Microsoft Teams

Take a listen and let us know what you think – feedback@needtoknow.cloud

You can listen directly to this episode at:

https://ciaops.podbean.com/e/episode-206-ghost-in-the-machine/

Subscribe via iTunes at:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ciaops-need-to-know-podcasts/id406891445?mt=2

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ciaops/need-to-know-podcast?refid=stpr

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.

Resources

@contactbrenton

@directoria

CIAOPS Patron program

Azure cheat sheet

Azure global outage

What’s new in Microsoft 365 user management

New people centered experiences in Microsoft 365

Microsoft Edge – All the news from Build

Minimize distractions and stay focused with AI powered updates in Microsoft 365

Script to disable direct Shared Mailbox logins

A while back I spoke about

The Insecurity of Shared Mailboxes

and how that even though they have an Azure AD Account they should have their logins disabled and access rights ONLY provided via the mailbox.

To make things easier for people I have now created a script that will allow you to view and potentially disable the direct logins for all your shared mailboxes to make them more secure.

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The scripts requires that you are already connected to both Exchange Online and Azure AD.

At the top of the script, you’ll find a variable called $secure. If that is set to $false then no changes will be made to your environment, you’ll just get a report like shown above. Shared mailboxes that have direct login enabled will be displayed in red.

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Now, if you change the variable $secure to $true then any shared mailbox that is currently enabled for direct connection will have that ability disabled. The output will display two lines for each mailbox that has direct access enabled. The first line indicates that direct logins are enabled and then the second line will show that has now been secured. In this scenario, all that is happening is that the shared mailbox identity is simply being blocked as I outlined in my earlier article.

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 The last possibility is that the shared mailboxes direct logins have already been disabled, and in this case the results of the script should simply show that result in green.

In summary then, you can run this script with the variable $secure set to $false to just display the direct login condition of your shared mailboxes. You can run this script with $secure set to $true and then not only will the direct login condition of the shared mailboxes be reported but they will all then be blocked for direct login.

You will find this script in my GitHub Office 365 repository at:

https://github.com/directorcia/Office365/blob/master/o365-exo-sharedblock.ps1

CIAOPS Techwerks 6–Sydney June 6

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CIAOPS Techwerks move to Sydney in June on Thursday the 6th. The course is limited to 15 people and you can now sign up and reserve your place. To do this just email me (director@ciaops.com) and I’ll add you to the list.

The content of these events is driven by the attendees. That means we cover exactly what people want to see and focus on doing hands on, real world scenarios. Attendees can vote on topics they’d like to see covered prior to the day and we continue to target exactly what the small group of attendees wants to see. Thus, this is an excellent way to get really deep into the technology and have all the questions you’ve been dying to know answered. Typically, the event produces a number of best practice take aways for each attendee. So far, the greatest votes are for deeper dives into Intune, security and PowerShell configuration and scripts, however that isn’t finalised until the day.

Recent testimonial – “I just wanted to say a big thank you to Robert for the Brisbane Techworks day. It is such a good format with each attendee asking what matters them and the whole interactive nature of the day. So much better than death by PowerPoint.” – Mike H.

The cost to attend is:

Patron level Price inc GST
Gold Enterprise Free
Gold $ 33
Silver $ 99
Bronze $ 176
Non Patron $ 399

The CIAOPS Techwerks events are run regularly in major Australian capital cities, so if you can’t make this one or you aren’t in Sydney on that date, stay tuned for more details and announcements soon. If you are interested in signing up please contact me via emails (director@ciaops.com) and I can let you know all the details as well as answer any questions you may have about the event.

I hope to see you there.

The insecurity of shared mailboxes

Shared mailboxes are a really handy component of Microsoft 365 in that they allow multiple users to access a single mailbox. This works really well for generic accounts like info@, accounts@, etc. However, there are some security issues with these that I don’t think many people are aware of.

The first point to note is that shared mailboxes in Microsoft 365 actually have a login and password. Thus, they can be accessed directly using these details. Don’t believe me? Well check out the following documentation:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/admin/email/create-a-shared-mailbox?view=o365-worldwide#block-sign-in-for-the-shared-mailbox-account

which says:

“Every shared mailbox has a corresponding user account. Notice how you weren’t asked to provide a password when you created the shared mailbox? The account has a password, but it’s system-generated (unknown). You aren’t supposed to use the account to log in to the shared mailbox”

So, by default, when you create a shared mailbox you are actually creating an account with a system password in your environment. No so bad you think right? Well, the problem is that, by default, IMAP and POP3 are enabled on all mailboxes, including shared ones.

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Some actually use this IMAP ability to be able to open shared mailboxes on mobile devices, however doing this comes with a huge risk in my books.

Why? Well, if IMAP is enabled, that means basic authentication is enabled and that is bad as I have said previously:

Disable basic auth to improve Office 365 security

You may feel an unknown system or complex password on a shared mailbox is good enough but to remote bad actors running automated cracking programs against accounts on your tenant, it is only a matter of time until they generate a matching password for that shared mailbox. Once they have that, boom, they’re into that mailbox. From that foothold, they can then launch all types of attacks, but the most likely being phishing your users. It’s all down hill from there!

If you use shared mailboxes on mobile devices, this means you have to know the password for the shared mailbox prior to configuration on the mobile device. Because the shared mailbox has an account, it can have it’s password changed. That means, if you want to use shared mailboxes on mobile devices, you reset the password for the shared mailbox so you know it. You then give that to users so they can configure access on their phones. Anyone else see a problem here? You are providing multiple people access to a single resource with a shared password. What is a shared password? It ain’t a secret for sure now is it? So, what happens when a user leaves the business? I’ll bet most businesses don’t go and reset the password on all the shared mailboxes that user had access to. This means you now have someone outside your business who has a login (shared mailbox email address) and password to a resource in your tenant.

Here’s a scenario where that came back to bite the business. A disgruntled user was terminated and their individual login account was disabled. After the user has fired, they connected back into a shared mailbox directly using IMAP and started sending all sorts of nasty emails to all staff from this mailbox. Now if they had been smart, they would have done this from an anonymous IP address, not one assigned to them from their ISP so we could track them down. However, the damage was done. Why? All because access to the shared mailbox was permitted by insecure protocols and shared passwords.

Edit sign-in status flyout in the M365 admin center

As with most things security, it is pretty easy to protect yourself from this BUT it requires changing the defaults. The easiest way is to:

Block sign-in for the shared mailbox account

along with disabling IMAP, POP and basic auth. Yes, I fully appreciate that may have productivity ramifications, so you need to balance up the risk. However, given how easily this can be exploited, and the damage it could to the business, I’d rather be in the safe and secure camp than the ‘it’ll never happen to us’ blind faith camp personally. Anything that allows anonymous external users the ability to access accounts externally and allows them to keep guessing passwords as you can with IMAP spray attacks is very, very bad in my books. If you read this article:

https://www.proofpoint.com/us/threat-insight/post/threat-actors-leverage-credential-dumps-phishing-and-legacy-email-protocols

make sure you note the very last paragraph which says:

Update, March 21, 2019: This post has been updated to reflect specific cases in which IMAP-based password-spraying attacks were successful, particularly as threat actors targeted shared service accounts, (e.g., hr@company[.]com or helpdesk@company[.]com) or exploited weaknesses in MFA implementations and third-party email client logins.” 

So please, secure your shared mailboxes NOW! If you really, really need shared mailbox access on mobile devices I would suggest you use Office 365 groups instead until Microsoft enables shared mailboxes natively on mobile devices (which is on the roadmap).

Need to Know podcast–Episode 205

Welcome to episode 205. In this episode we’ll learn why Brenton has buyer’s remorse, how restoring files in SharePoint has been improved and how I protect my family using Microsoft 365 and the Microsoft Cloud. That and whole more are in this episode for your listening pleasure.

This episode was recorded using Microsoft Teams

Take a listen and let us know what you think – feedback@needtoknow.cloud

You can listen directly to this episode at:

https://ciaops.podbean.com/e/episode-205-buyers-remorse/

Subscribe via iTunes at:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ciaops-need-to-know-podcasts/id406891445?mt=2

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ciaops/need-to-know-podcast?refid=stpr

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.

Resources

@contactbrenton

@directorcia

CIAOPS Patron Community

Files restore for SharePoint and Microsoft Teams

Do you need to backup Office 365

How I protect my parents using Microsoft 365

New cloud based policy management service for Office 365 ProPlus

What’s new in OneNote for Windows 10

MDATP Threat and Vulnerability Management now publicly available

Microsoft Kaizala rolls out to Office 365 customers globally and will become part of Microsoft Teams

PowerShell Version 7

Introducing Security Policy Advisor

Azure Backup support to move Recovery Service vaults across subscriptions and resources groups

Gratitude

The 25th of April here in Australia and New Zealand marks the anniversary of our first major conflict, fighting under the national flag. The operation at Gallipoli was designed as a diversion to relieve the hard pressed allied forces fighting in France since 1914. This gave birth the legend of ANZAC that we celebrate today.

That anniversary is now more than a hundred years in our past but we continue to use it as the rally point for contributions made by all members of our armed forces over the years. To be willing to serve and die for your country and people within is a special trait indeed. The hope is that we will never see carnage on the scale we have seen in the World Wars, but yet sadly, conflict continues throughout the world.

As much as today is a time to reflect on the sacrifices of the past it should also be a time to express gratitude for what we have today. The people around us, our families, friends, work colleagues and more all add to the fabric of our lives in very positive ways. It is easy in today’s age to over look the simple things, to say thanks to those we love and to help others without the expectation of return. Those that went to places like Gallipoli did this. Those that fight today to keep us safe do this. Those that respond to every day emergencies do this. And for all that we should be grateful.

We can honour the past, we can live in the present but we must plan for the future. We need to take this opportunity to think about how we can make this world a better place. How we can live up to the standards we see from others? Yes, we will fail. Yes, it will be a challenge, but if we truly take the spirt of ANZAC to heart we will continue to sacrifice every day in whatever small way as a daily expression of gratitude.

Start today. Ask yourself, how can I be more grateful because things could surely be a whole lot worse than they are right now!   

For those interested in learning of the continued sacrifices that the ANZACs made after withdrawing from Gallipoli in World War 1, when they went to fight in northern France until the end of the war, should visit my web site:

ANZACs in France

How I protect my parents using Microsoft 365

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I’m sure there are many of us out there that continue to provide free unpaid support for our family members. Well, many it isn’t so much free, as a ‘barter’ arrangement in that every time I’m on site I get fed. That type of compensation may of course vary in your particular situation but many IT Pros are expected to support our own family as they use technology. That can be extremely challenging if you don’t do it right. Thanks to the tools available in the Microsoft Cloud, you can quite easily!

One of the benefit of doing security right for your family is that it is going to drastically reduce the amount of support calls you receive. So here’s some of the stuff I do:

1. Everyone has Microsoft 365 Business

This one license ensures that they have commercial grade email and the latest version of Office on their desktops. It ensures that they have both Safe Links and Safe Attachments for their mailboxes to protect against inbound malware and viruses.

2. Everyone runs the latest version of Windows 10 Professional on their desktop

Windows Home has lots of limitations and does not allow connection to Azure AD. Thus, all machines are Windows 10 Professional and all machines update automatically.

3. All machines are joined to Azure AD

I don’t want to have a traditional on premises domain controller to manage these Window 10 machine. By joining all the Windows 10 Professional workstations directly to Azure AD I get the management, security and control that I want all from the cloud.

4. All machines have Intune compliance and configuration policies applied

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Thanks to Intune, which is part of Microsoft 365 Business, at a glance I can ensure all the machines, including my own, are compliant and configured appropriately.

5. All machines only use Windows Defender as their AV

Windows Defender is the best solution for AV in my experience. I can manage many settings thanks to Intune, although I would like some more I would admit, but I have never had an viruses or malware issues wince ditching third party AV providers a number of years ago. I am considering potentially upgrading to Windows Defender ATP but it is probably not worth the investment given the other steps I am already taking.

6. All machines are covered by Azure AD Premium P1

Azure AD Premium P1 is an add on to Microsoft 365 Business but has a number of very, very handy security features that I use to keep everyone safe.

7. Conditional access is limiting access to devices via IP address

One of the features that Azure AD Premium P1 provides is the ability to set conditional access policies. I have restricted access to my parents logins to be ONLY available on two unique IP addresses, theirs and mine. This means that if they were phished and gave up their logins a remote user would be prevented from logging in thanks to these conditional access policies as they are not connecting from these allowed IP addresses.

In my own personal cases, I also use conditional access policies but I have them set a little broader, typically limited to allowing access just from Australia. If I travel, I need to temporarily adjust the policy to accommodate where I’ll be and then set it back to just Australia when I return.

8. All POP and IMAP access has been disabled to all mailboxes

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The most common way that random bad actors on the Internet are trying to gain access to accounts is using IMAP and POP3 as you can see from a recent log above. Conversely, all Microsoft 365 mailboxes have both POP3 and IMAP enabled for all mailboxes by default unfortunately. No user needs to access mail via old protocols and thus it is disabled across the tenant.

9. Basic authentication has been disabled on the tenant

Because I have modern devices and software connecting to my information, as I have said before:

Disable basic auth to improve Office 365 security

‘nuff said.

10. All accounts have Multi Factor enabled

All accounts have the requirement for MFA on them. Now, my parents don’t have smart phones or devices other than their PC’s, so how do they access their accounts using MFA? Well, they actually don’t! See item 11 as to how I achieve this.

11. Trusted IPs have been enabled

Once again, thanks to magic of Azure AD Premium P1, I am able to implement Trusted IPs. This means that when a login request comes from a configured Trusted IP the user will not be prompted for MFA even if the account requires it. Thus, thanks to the locations I have already set up with Conditional Access I can also use these same IP addresses to configure Trusted IPs for my parents logins. This means, that their accounts ARE protected by MFA but since they are always logging in from a single IP address that is now trusted, they WON’T be asked for MFA. This, makes it easy on them and hard on the bad guys.

12. I have Office 365 Cloud App Discovery

Again, thanks to the wonders of Azure AD P1 I have Cloud App Discovery which enables me a far more granular logging of events in my tenant. I can see exactly what my parents are actually doing.

I’ve talked about the benefits of Cloud App Security before:

A great security add on for Microsoft 365

and recommend you have it.

13. All machines use password-less Windows Hello logins

All the machines are using Windows Hello, either biometric or a PIN to access the machines. No complex passwords to remember, just a simple PIN number or just sitting in front of the machine now gives my parents access to their desktops. It couldn’t be easier and yet secure.

There are a lot more actions I take on my production tenant to ensure it is secure but the above items are the ones that most affect and protect my parents and their information. As you can see, via the implementation of Microsoft Cloud technologies I have made it both super secure and super easy for them. In most cases they don’t even realise what I’ve done, and that’s the way it should be.

Now, if I can do this for my parents, why are you not doing the same for your business users? Eh?