Making PowerShell automation easier with the Microsoft Graph

About 2 years ago I released a free PowerShell script that allowed you to check for email forwards on mailboxes in a Microsoft 365 environment. I wrote about that script here:

This is still the most comprehensive method in my books for checking for all the various type of forwards on a mailbox and I recommend you continue to use the script which you’ll find freely available at:

As good as that script is, there are still challenges for many people actually using it I have found. This mainly revolves around getting an appropriate PowerShell environment running, installing the Exchange Online PowerShell modules, connecting to Exchange Online with PowerShell and so on. I have detailed how to do all that over the period here but I still find that many struggle to make use of the PowerShell script.

So a new approach is in order. In short, I have a new version of this script that is a single EXE file you can download and use here:

It is important to note that this script does not make any changes to users or their mailboxes, it just reads and reports their mailbox rules using the Microsoft Graph. As yet, it can’t check more exotic things like direct mailbox forwarding or sweep rules, but you gotta start somewhere!

Let me show you how it works.


You’ll need a PC that is running a current version of PowerShell. A Windows 10 PC will work fine. You should also have the AzureAD PowerShell module loaded prior in your environment. To do that, all you need to do is run an elevated PowerShell console and type install-azuread. However, hopefully most people already have this loaded.

Download my new file from:

and copy it anywhere on your machine as shown above. Double click to run the file.


You should now see a window like shown above.

The program will first check for the Azure AD PowerShell module. It will then prompt you to log into your tenant of choice.


You’ll go through your normal login process to a tenant as shown.


Including using MFA if required.


Once logged into the tenant, a new Azure AD application will be created in the tenant with a unique name as shown above. The name in this case is CIAOPS-20200415232309. With the app created in the tenant, appropriate permission are added to that app to allow it to do things like read the list of users, their mailboxes, etc.

After this app has been created and permissions applied to it to allow it to do its work, those changes need to be consented or approved by someone (typically the same user that initially logged into the tenant). Unfortunately, from what I can see, consent can only be managed via the browser. With that in mind, the required URL is copied to the clipboard and you are prompted whether you wish to open the default browser to complete this process. Copying the consent URL to the clipboard allows you to manually paste it to your browser session of choice. This is handy if you are working in multiple tenants currently.


You’ll now be prompted to login to the tenant again, but this time in a browser.


You should then see a list of requested permissions as shown above that you’ll need to accept for this process to complete.


If you look at the top of the dialog to see what is requesting permission you should see the name of the Azure AD application as noted previously. Here again that is CIAOPS-20200415232309.


Also note that there is only one write permissions requested, the majority are only read. Where do these permission come from? To use the Microsoft Graph, for example, to list the email folders for a user you use the command here:

in which you’ll see to do this you need the permissions:

Mail.ReadBasic.All, Mail.Read, Mail.ReadWrite

I have tried to keep the rights requires as basic as possible but I am using what the Graph provides.

You’ll see that it needs a number of permissions to accomplish this. Basically, I have automated the process I detailed how to do manually before here:


After you Accept the permissions, you should be return to the home page of your tenant as shown. If for reason the consent page doesn’t appear or something else strange happens, just paste in the URL and try again. Sometimes web request don’t always work.


If you now return to the program you’ll see that it is prompting you to confirm that you have completed the consent stage.  Type Y and press ENTER to continue.


Because the web consent step can take a short while to complete I now wait 10 seconds, just in case, for this to complete.


The program will continue, getting all the information it needs and then starting to report on user mailboxes as shown above.


Once all mailboxes have been checked the Azure AD application created to facilitate this process (here CIAOPS-20200415232309) is deleted from your tenant to leave zero touch.

If you then press any key, the program will complete.


If you now look in the source directory you will see two new text files as shown above.


The first file, graph-mdx-rules.txt is basically a debugging log file that records what happens during the initialisation phase of the program.


The file mbx-rules.txt is basically a copy of the results.

Note, both of these file get overwritten each time the program runs.

Hopefully, this new program makes it much easier to get the information your need. However, because much is automated and simplified, some may be concerned as to what is actually happening behind the scenes. Well, thanks to the wonders of Azure AD you can easily see.


To review the whole process, open you Azure portal and navigate to Azure Active Directory and then Audit logs as you see above.


In there you should find an entry that corresponds to the Azure AD application being added as shown above. Note the name corresponds to the one details previously, here CIAOPS-20200415232309.


You should then see entries where permissions have been added to Azure AD application as shown above.


A bit further along, you’ll see where consent was granted to the Azure AD application as shown above.


Lastly, you’ll also see where that Azure AD application is completely deleted from the environment leaving no fingerprint.

This is a new approach to automation that I believe will work well. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done and there are still some limitations but hopefully, this can be the first of many scripts I create and make available in this simplified way. Thus, I’d love you to try the program and tell me what you think. what works, what doesn’t? What would you like to see and how can it be improved? No matter what it is, I’d love to hear your thoughts, which you can send me directly via email

Look out for more updates and new scripts at my GitHub repository –

Blocked files types in OWA

Outlook Web Access maintain a list of allowed and blocked file types. These are contained in a policy for each user. To determine what this policy is with PowerShell, the first thing you’ll need to do is connect to Exchange Online. I have made that easy for you by creating a script to connect using the new Exchange Online V2 PowerShell module. you will find that script here:

Once you have connected, run the following commands:

$casmailbox=Get-CASMailbox <user email address>
$owapolicyname = $casmailbox.OwaMailboxPolicy

This should display something like:


which gives us the policy name.

Next run the command:

$policy = Get-OwaMailboxPolicy $owapolicyname

to get the settings/values of that policy.

To view the allowed file list run the commands:

$allowedFileTypes = $policy.AllowedFileTypes


which should show something like:


To view the blocked file list run the commands:

$blockedfiletypes = $policy.BlockedFileTypes


The next question is, can you adjust these lists? Yes you can. You basically do that by adjusting the list of extensions variable (here $blockedfiletypes) via something like:


and reapplying that to the policy like:

Set-OwaMailboxPolicy $policy -BlockedFileTypes $blockedFileTypes

and if you want to extend the list just use add instead of remove in the above command prior to applying it to the policy.

Microsoft is making additions to the BlockedFileTypes list from April 2020:

What file extensions will be added to the BlockedFileTypes list with this change?
The following extensions are used by the Python scripting language:

“.py”, “.pyc”, “.pyo”, “.pyw”, “.pyz”, “.pyzw”

The following extensions are used by the PowerShell scripting language:

“.ps1”, “.ps1xml”, “.ps2”, “.ps2xml”, “.psc1”, “.psc2”, “.psd1”, “.psdm1”, “.cdxml”, “.pssc”

The following extension is used by Windows ClickOnce


The following extension is used by Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC)


The following extension is used by the Windows sandbox


The following extensions are used for digital certificates:

“.cer”, “.crt”, “.der”

The following extensions are used by the Java programming language:

“.jar”, “.jnlp”

The following extensions are used by various applications. While the associated vulnerabilities have been patched (for years, in most cases), they are being blocked for the benefit of organizations that might still have older versions of the application software in use:

“.appcontent-ms”, “.settingcontent-ms”, “.cnt”, “.hpj”, “.website”, “.webpnp”, “.mcf”, “.printerexport”, “.pl”, “.theme”, “.vbp”, “.xbap”, “.xll”, “.xnk”, “.msu”, “.diagcab”, “.grp”

The list in my test tenant right now is:

Blocked File Types:


and Allowed File Types is:


Your mileage may vary.

Remove known bad emails from tenant

Microsoft has a technology in Exchange Online known as ZAP. It will basically move known malicious emails, even after they may have initially been delivered to a mailbox. You can read more about the the technology here:

Zero-hour auto purge protection against spam and malware

ZAP however, is a ‘reactive’ security technology requiring knowledge of malicious content prior to taking action. There will therefore be cases when malicious content can get delivered to a mailbox, especially if the attack is relative new in the wild, simply because it has not yet been identified.  Hopefully, users have been trained so they can report any suspicious material that they do find, as I have detailed here:

Improved security is a shared responsibility

You can also enable an alert that notifies when someone reports an email. When that happens, you may want to check through all the other mailboxes to see whether that malicious email occurs elsewhere. If the payload is indeed malicious, you may wish to take the pro-active step of deleting that bad email from all users inboxes.

You can achieve this using two steps:

1. Create a content search to locate the suspect item in your tenant

2. Use PowerShell to delete the discovered items

Step one is to login to the Microsoft 365 tenant as an administrator and visit the Security and Compliance Center like so:


Select Content Search from under the Search option on the left.

Before you create a new search, you’ll need to find something unique about the item you are searching for.


In the case above, with this dodgy email, I’ll do a search based on the senders email but I could as easily do one on the mis-spelled subject ‘Alart’. All you need is something unique.


If I look in my inbox I can see this email listed as shown.


I create a new Content Search and use the unique criteria in the keywords as shown above.


Below this I can limit where the search is conducted. In this case, I will specify messages, as that is what I am looking for. You can get quite granular here if you need to. Just select Modify and specify the location you wish to search. Remember, the more places you search the longer it will take to return results.


Once you have crafted your search, select Save & run in the lower left. After a short while, you should see the results. In this case, I have only found the one result, which is the item in my inbox. Make sure you check the items that are returned as it is these items that will be deleted! You may need to adjust your search to get exactly the results you wish.

Next, you’ll need to fire up PowerShell and connect to the Microsoft Security and Compliance Center for you tenant. I have a script that you can use here if you have MFA:

and if you don’t (shame on you):

Once you have successfully connected you need to run the following line of PowerShell:

New-ComplianceSearchAction -SearchName “<Content search query name>” -Purge -PurgeType SoftDelete

for a ‘soft delete’ of the item (i.e. recoverable). Or

New-ComplianceSearchAction -SearchName “<Content search query name>” -Purge -PurgeType HardDelete

for a ‘hard delete’ (i.e. non-recoverable). You’ll also need to change <Content search query name> to match the name you gave the Content Search when you created it.


You should now see a prompt, as shown above, asking you to confirm your actions. Generally, you’ll select Yes to All here.


This will kick off the process of deleting the content you have found. Note, this process is not immediate. It may take a little while to work through all the locations.


When the process is complete, as shown above, that item no longer appears in mailboxes.

That’s how you run your own ZAP!

Check your journaling rules

One of challenges with security is that there are lots of places to check and secure but only one vulnerability required for compromise. Most compromises happen at the user level but there are also other places that you may want to keep an eye. One of the is the journaling rules in Exchange Online.

Now, journaling rules can only generally be configured by an administrator. According to:

“Journaling can help your organization respond to legal, regulatory, and organizational compliance requirements by recording inbound and outbound email communications.”

That means it maybe possible to record email traffic and forward it to another location. That may mean for example, a rogue administrator setting up a journaling rule to send the CEO’s emails to their own private external email box.

Defending against rogue admin is tough and requires some planning. The least that you could do is check any existing journaling rules and ensure that only required ones appear.


You can do this by visiting the Exchange Online Admin Center. From here select Compliance Management then journal rules as shown above.

As you can see there are no journal rules in this tenant and it is my experience that most tenants don’t use journaling at all. That doesn’t mean there isn’t legitimate reasons for having journaling rules. All I’m saying is that you should check what you have and ensure it is right.

As always, I find that using PowerShell is a much quicker way to report on this using the command:


The reason which checking journaling is important, is because as I understand it, journaling won’t show up in the audit logs for the tenant. This means that once it was surreptitiously enabled, it could run unreported in the background, collecting information unknown to everyone? That is a bad thing.

The best solution against rogue administrators in general is Privileged Access Management (PAM) in Office 365:

Configuring Privileged Access Management

which is typically only included in advanced Microsoft 365 licensing like E5. This, unfortunately, puts it beyond the reach of many. So, for the time being, keep an eye on your journaling rules and check to see where they maybe sending your information.


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:

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.


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:

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).

Email message traces in Office 365

A very common need these days is to do an email message trace. This can be done the old way in the Exchange Online Admin center or the new way via Mail Flow in the Security and Compliance center.


You simply enter the details and then run a search.


and the output looks like the above, where you can also drill in and get more detail.


As with all things Office 365, you can achieve the exact same thing using PowerShell as I have shown above. The code to achieve this is quite straight forward but I have uploaded it to my GitHub repo to save you the trouble:

Where PowerShell comes into its own is when you need to a variety of tasks, perhaps an investigation of a breach. Using PowerShell you can easily dump all the information to CSV for further analysis rather than having to root it out in the web interface.

Reporting mailbox logins

Before much of what is covered here is possible you need to ensure you have enabled all the logging in your Office 365 tenant. I’ve covered how to do that here:

Enabling Office 365 mailbox auditing

Enable mailbox auditing in Exchange Online

Enable activity auditing in Office 365

Once you have done that you will be able to track what’s going on in your tenant much better.

In the situation of a compromised mailbox, a bad actor has control of it using legitimate credentials. This eliminates looking for failed logins, because there won’t be any. It also makes the finding the bad actor tougher because their access is most likely mixed in with the legitimate user.

The place to start is to run an audit log search as I have detailed here:

Searching the Office 365 activity log for failed logins


However, as I mentioned, we can no longer search for failed logins, we need to use a different search criteria. I would suggest that you instead run a search using the attribute “User signed in to mailbox” as shown above. That will produce something like shown for all users. Problem with this is that times and dates are in UTC not local time and it is cumbersome to manipulate in a web page. You can of course manipulate by exporting the results to a spreadsheet for more control.


Unsurprisingly, I feel PowerShell offers a much better solution to check the logs and report as you can see above. The script to do this I have made freely available at my Github repo here:

Basically, it will search the Audit log for Exchange Items that are Mailbox logins and send that output to a nice table via the Out-Grid command. As you can see, using Out-Grid you can now easily sort by time by clicking the column heading, and thanks to the script, the times are local not UTC!

By default, the script will check the last 48 hours but you can easily modify that to suit your needs by either entering the scope in hours or entering a start and end date in the variables at the top of the script.

With this output I can now look for suspect IPs that login into the mailbox and begin hunting from there. However, remember, all of this relies on you enable your auditing BEFORE you need it. So, if you haven’t enabled it, go do it now! You’ll find scripts to enable the logs also in my Office 365 repo here:

Monitor outbound spam as well


Hopefully everyone is well aware of the need to protect Office 365 email from inbound spam, however what are you doing about outbound spam?

Hopefully, no bad actor gains access to your environment BUT if they did and they started using you accounts to send spam email how would know?


For this reason, I suggest that it is a good idea to go into the Exchange Administration console, select Protection, then Outbound spam. Edit the default policy (that’s really your only option), then select outbound spam protection on the left hand side. Then I suggest you should enable the option to send an email when there is a suspicious outbound email to somewhere that is monitored.

That obviously, won’t stop outbound spam but it should at least give you a heads up that it is happening.