Exchange Server

Exploring the Office 365 Substrate

by Tony Redmond

The Office 365 Substrate is a poorly understood part of Microsoft's Cloud Office system. The substrate is a critical part of enabling services that run across different applications like Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Teams, and so on. Functionality like search, information protection, data governance, and eDiscovery is a lot harder when you have multiple moving parts. The substrate gives cohesion and coherence to what could otherwise be a tangled mess.

Tracking Anonymous Access to SharePoint and OneDrive Documents

by Tony Redmond

Cloudy attachments are an excellent way of sharing documents through email without attaching files. Behind the scenes, an anonymous link to the document is sent to recipients, who can then use the link to open, edit, or download the document (depending on the assigned permission). Office 365 tenant administrators don't have great visibility into what kind of anonymous sharing happens, but they can with a little bit of PowerShell and the contents of the Office 365 audit log.

Can Exchange Online Really Recall Messages?

by Tony Redmond

Outlook users are more than aware of the problems involved in message recall, a feature that's only available in Outlook desktop and has a nasty habit of not working. The reasons why the feature fails are well known, but soon might be addressed by a new Exchange Online implementation that promises to work for all clients and across Office 365. Time will tell if careers and love can be rescued by the new message recall.

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    No Surprise That Exchange Online Uses Windows Server Core

    by Tony Redmond

    A recent Microsoft post contained the news that Exchange Online uses Windows Server Core. That might be news to some, but not to anyone who's been following the advice of the Exchange product group. Exchange Online doesn't use virtual servers, follows a preferred architecture, wants to reduce the potential attack surface, and extract as much CPU as possible out of its servers. All good reasons why Windows Server Core helps.

    Making the Exchange – Azure Active Directory Connection More Reliable

    by Tony Redmond

    Microsoft posted an odd blog on September 9 to announce improvements in the relationship between Exchange Online and Azure Active Directory. Many Office 365 tenants might have ignored the post, but it's actually about a piece of important work to help the service run better. Many updates happen to Exchange Online objects that need to be replicated to Azure Active Directory and onward to other Office 365 app directories. This work means that changes show up faster, which is good, but there's a small downside to note.

    Microsoft Gives Exchange 2010 Nine More Months

    with 2 Comments by Tony Redmond

    In a surprising but welcome announcement, Microsoft moved the end of extended support for Exchange 2010 to October 2020. This version of Exchange was the most technology-rich and significant in the product's history, which might be the reason why so many organizations still depend on Exchange 2010 for email. Better options exist, and Exchange Online is the natural place to go... if your network and applications allow the move.

    The Magic Behind OWA Likes

    by Tony Redmond

    OWA is the only Outlook client that supports "Likes." This begs the question how OWA supports likes and where the information about likes is stored. Some probing using easily accessible tools reveals the answer. You might think that the answer only interests Office 365 Trivial Pursuit nerds, but it's actually of real interest to eDiscovery investigators.

    Is Exchange Online Threatened by Ransomware?

    with 4 Comments by Tony Redmond

    Some people worry that Exchange Online mailboxes could be compromised by ransomeware and people will be forced to pay BitCoin to decrypt their messages. It's certainly a possibility, but out-of-the-box solutions exist if you're unlucky enough to be infected. That is, if you've done the necessary up-front planning to prepare for the worst to happen.,

    Microsoft Deprecating Exchange Online’s Search-Mailbox Cmdlet

    by Tony Redmond

    Microsoft has started to flag its intention to deprecate the Search-Mailbox cmdlet. It's probably the right time to remove this cmdlet from Exchange Online because Office 365 compliance searches can serve the same purpose. At least, compliance searches can do most of what Search-Mailbox does faster. Some functionality gaps need to be filled before we can bid adieu to Search-Mailbox, but its time is coming.

    The PowerShell Mess in the Microsoft Cloud

    with 1 Comment by Tony Redmond

    PowerShell is a great way of automating common administrative Office 365 operations. That is, if you know what module to use and how to use the cmdlets in that module. Unfortunately things are a bit of a mess with too many modules and inconsistent behavior in areas like error handling. With so many development groups working on Office 365, the PowerShell situation might be inevitable, but it needs cleaning up.

    Phishing Report Highlights Need for Sophisticated Anti-Malware Software

    by Tony Redmond

    A recent report by a security vendor says that 25% of phishing messages get by Exchange Online Protection (EOP) and arrive into Office 365 user mailboxes. This highlights the need to configure EOP properly and run multiple lines of defense. Microsoft would like you to use Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) alongside EOP. Offerings from other security vendors are also available. For better protection against phishing, you should consider something like ATP.