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Automatic Log In Reverse Proxy with FBA

Recently I configured another ISA 2006 server as reverse proxy to publish the Exchange 2007 OWA environment on a secure way to the internet. The customer where I configured the reverse proxy is migrating from Novell GroupWise to Microsoft Exchange.

During the migration period, the customer has specific requirements when connecting to the webmail environment from the internet. The customer is using GroupWise and OWA next to each other. He build an own log in page for webmail. The user enters this credentials, which are check against a directory with the help of LDAP. Depending on the LDAP group the user is member of, he is redirected to GroupWise webmail or OWA.

The problem was that when the client gets redirected to OWA, he had to provide his credentials a second time to log in to OWA. The customer wants to use Single Sign On, so the user credentials should be automatically posted on the OWA sign in page. The customer has the option to edit his own sign in page, so specific parameters can be added when redirecting the client to the ISA 2006 reverse proxy.

I had to figure out, which URL is posted to the ISA reverse proxy after the user credentials are entered in the web browser. I started to search the internet and different forums, but the solution wasn’t found. So there was nothing else left, than starting the good old sniffer and capture the complete process. I always use WireShark as sniffer, which is a very powerful tool. I added a filter so only the traffic to and from the ISA 2006 server is captured.

I started the sniffer, logged in on the ISA 2006 server, stopped the sniffer and started analyzing the sniffer results. After some digging I found the POST statement, which is displayed below.

POST-STATEMENT

Looking at the POST statements, I now knew the exact URL which is posted to the ISA 2006 server. I copied the URL to notepad, changed the username and password to another account. Copied the new URL and pasted that one in my browser and HIEHOE. After hitting enter, I don’t get any sign in page, but get directly to my webmail. So exactly as the customer wants.

The default POST URL has the following format:

https://<DNS name>/CookieAuth.dll?Logon?curl=Z2Fowa&flags=0&forcedownlevel=0& formdir=1&trusted=0&username=<username>&password=<password>
&SubmitCreds=Log+On

PDA Active Sync – Invalid Certificate

The usage of Pocket PCs (PDAs) becomes more and more a default feature for business. The last months I have installed quit some Windows ISA 2006 servers for Reverse Proxy purposes. I have installed them normally for webmail only, but lately I have added the Microsoft Active Sync feature.

The Pocket PCs connect to the organization via UMTS, GPRS, USB with laptop or whatever with an internet connection. Today I had the same job on the schedule: Enable Active Sync for Pocket PCs.

I thought by myself: EASY JOB, but NOT. After configuring the ISA reverse proxy I used a Pocket PC emulator to test the Active Sync features. I received the following error message when synchronizing:

pda

I found this a strange message, because clients use the same URL as the Pocket PC for accessing their webmail and they never receive an error message for an untrusted certificate.

The used certificated is issued by Equifax Secure Global eBusiness CA-1. This is a common and one of the better CA’s.

I had to dig deeper into the problem. I tried to install the certificate on the Pocket PC, but no luck. I searched the internet and found a tool called Microsoft Exchange Server Disable Certificate Verification. You can find an executable here, which can be used when using the Pocket PC in conjunction with a PC through USB. I also found a similar tool to install on the pocket PC, this is called AS_Cert_OFF.cab. The tool wasn’t the solution to the problem, so I had to dig deeper.

I was thinking way to complex, the problem was fixed by requesting a new certificate. The used certificate didn’t support Pocket PC. Comparing the different SSL certificates on QuickSSL.com I noticed I had to use a QuickSSL Premium certificate. This certificate supports popular mobile devices and smartphones.

After generating a CSR, requesting the certificate and installing the certificate on the ISA server, the connection and synchronization works like a charm. At least for the most PDA’s. Some PDA’s received the following error 80072f7d. After searching some forums, I found the solution in adding a registry key. I added the following registry key:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows CE Services]
“AllowLSP”=dword:00000000

After adding the key to the registry, all Pocket PC’s synchronized perfectly.

Exchange 2007 with ISA 2006

Today I have be working on publishing Microsoft Exchange Outlook WebAccess and Active Sync to the Internet. We had some discussions with some Microsoft Consultants about a secure way to publish Outlook Web Access to the Internet, especially the authentication part of such a solution.

Some people are talking about publishing OWA directly to the Internet. In my opinion, this results in a major security thread, because you directly publish a TCP/80 and TCP/443 connection from the Exchange server to the Internet. An vulnerability or exploit in these services could end up in an hacker who takes over the Exchange server.

A second solution is placing a front-end server in a DMZ segment, but making the server a domain member for authentication. In my opinion still a security leak, because somebody who hacks the DMZ server has maybe the ability to hack or corrupt the Active Directory.

The third solution, and the solution we advise, is using a Microsoft ISA 2006 server as a front-end server in the DMZ. We configure a RADIUS or LDAPS (if you would like the option to change the password) connection to a RADIUS server or a domain member on the internal LAN segment. This ensures a secure way of authenticating users and even if somebody hacks the ISA server, he still hasn’t hacked a domain member server or a vulnerability in TCP/80 or TCP/443 of the Exchange server.

I have had a lot of help of an article on isaserver.org from Thomas Shinder while configuring the solution. I had some problems with publishing Active Sync. Ended up with enabling Basic Authentication on the Active Sync virtual directory (Microsoft-Server-ActiveSync).