Exchange Online Protection (EOP) – SPAM, Blocklist, URL Community Participation

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For those Exchange Online Admins who are interested in Protection, SPAM and other security related mail concepts, this posting is for you.

Exchange Online participates in Protection Communities, which handle tracking and sharing information to other Community Members:

  • Exchange Online participates in the following communities in regards to security:
    • IP Blocklist in concert with Spamhaus
    • URL Lists in concert with Spamhaus, SURBL, URIBL and Invaluement

Office 365 & Mobility Management – Enterprise Mobility Suite

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For you Online Administrators who have a mobility management role and responsibility, then this posting is FOR YOU!  Learn more about how to manage your Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy by managing business mobile devices via Microsoft Online Services.  The Enterprise Mobility Solution allows for iOS, Android and Windows Phones, and desktop(s), providing a complete solution for all your mobility needs and business needs.

Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite

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Exchange Online Load Balancing of Mailboxes – Considerations to Outlook Clients

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For Exchange Online Administrators who hear from their users that they “sometimes” get disconnected and reconnected quickly and wondering…what is going on…this posting is for you!

Background

Exchange Online is constantly reviewing Exchange Mailbox Servers, determining if the right load or amount of mailboxes are on the Exchange Server.  As you know, the Exchange Store, Database Availability Groups (DAG), etc all play a part in how many mailboxes should be located on a server.  EXO makes sure that no servers are NOT overburdened to make sure all users, using any mail application, are not impacted by slow or sluggish performance.

To this end, Office 365 Exchange Admins may notice from time to time, through an Exchange Hybrid Server or Exchange Online Remote PowerShell that EXO mailboxes are being moved, with a move designation as local. This signifies that the mailbox is being load balanced onto another backend mailbox server and don’t worry, this is an Online Move, which means the MBX is being copied/moved over to a new server to provide the best server resources available.  As a result of the Online Move, once complete the original MBX is removed, Active Directory and Exchange are updated to the new location of the mailbox and the Outlook user will reconnect to outlook.office365.com, which then connects to the new mailbox server and mailbox.

Outlook Users

For those users whose MBXs are being moved to provide the best possible server health and access, they may see Outlook show as Disconnected and then quickly show Connected, with each Outlook connection changing within seconds or less.  In order to minimize the impact to users, the best possible configuration for Outlook users is the following, which allows Outlook to send credentials when asked without being prompted.

  1. Internet Explorer
    1. Why IE?  IE leverages the OS’ WinInet, which is used by socket based applications and when EXO asks for credentials and you add the following to your IE Security Zone settings, Outlook is able to release those credentials without being prompted to manually enter them
      1. Internet Explorer –> Tools –> Internet Options –> Security –> Local Intranet –> Sites –> Advanced
        1. For Active Directory Federation Service (ADFS) SSO (Single Sign-On) users add:
          1. https://*.yourcompanyDomain.com
          2. https://*.microsoftonline.com
          3. https://outlook.office365.com
        2. For non ADFS users
          1. https://*.microsoftonline.com
          2. https://outlook.office365.com
  2. Outlook
    1. When connecting to Exchange Online via Outlook, make sure each user uses the Save or Remember Me authentication dialog box.  This saves the users credentials into the Windows Operating System’s Credential Manager (CredMan), so when/if their mailbox is moved and Outlook must reconnect to an Exchange Online CAFE Server (Client Access Front-End), EXO will ask “who are you” and CredMan will silently pass those credentials and allow the Outlook client to quickly reconnect!

New SharePoint Online Menu Management Options

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For SharePoint Online of Office 365 Global Administrators who need to control what links your SharePoint Online users see when browsing throughout SharePoint, this article is for you.

The SharePoint Online Admin Center now has a new option to control which links are provided for your end users.  To manage these options, use the following steps:

  1. Browse to your SharePoint Online Admin Center, similar to:
    1. https://<domain>-admin.sharepoint.com
    2. Browse to Service Settings
    3. Note the very first option displayed, allowing you to manage which links are provided for your users, regarding OneDrive for Business, Yammer/Newsfeed or SharePoint “Sites”:

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For those Exchange Online Administrators who have and/or send/organize large Calendar Invitations (500 or more recipients), then this posting is for you!

..special thanks to Folke for pulling this information into a great format!

Office 365 : Exchange Online

Awareness
  • Exchange Online has a restriction of a max of 500 recipients/message
  • Use Online Distribution Group when sending large Calendar Meetings in Exchange Online
  • Turn OFF Request Response in meeting request

 

Issue: Actions: Timeline:
Sending Calendar Meetings to more than 500 recipients with Exchange Online, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that the usage of an Exchange Online Distribution List (DL) is used, as groups are counted as 1 recipient.In Exchange Online, the recipient limit per message is restricted to a maximum of 500, which is why EXO DLs should be used.  When and if the recipients are > 500, the Meeting Organizer is unable to properly send updates, cancellations, etc,  due to the 500 limit. Turn off the large calendar meeting option for Request Response which will allow users to respond, however they will not have the ability to send “comments”.The disablement of this Request Response is needed in Exchange Online meetings so that respondents are not pulled out of the DL and placed onto the To line, which starts the counter towards the EXO 500 recipient limit: Office 365: Recipients and Sender limits

Note -Due to the fact that certain mobile devices, such as an HTC Android, does not adhere to this Request Response setting. As a result these devices and the respondent will be added to the To line.  Meeting Organizers should be careful in that if you have ~500 HTC Androids that respond to this meeting invite, the Meeting Item will be come unmanageable.

Should use this process going forward for large EXO Large Calendar Invitations.

 

More Information

Solution: Use EXO DLs and Turn Off “Request Response”

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When sending these large calendar invitations in Exchange Online (i.e. All Hands Meeting), you should:

  1. Create and use EXO Distribution Lists (DLs) as recipients in the large calendar item
  2. Disable the Request Response flag in the Outlook meeting, so users are not pulled out of the DL and placed onto the To line, starting the 500 Max Recipients/Message EXO limit.

 

Additional Information

Exchange Online has a restriction of a max of 500 recipients per message to prevent Denial of Service Attacks against the service.

When you leave the standard setting of Request Response=on, attendees can respond not only with Accept, Tentative and Decline, but also with comments.

If an attendee responds with comments, that attendees email address is placed on the TO line, thus outside of the DL and counts as one recipient.

If this happens more than 500 times, the max recipients exceed the 500 limit (1DL+ 500 recipients on TO line=501 recipients = limit exceeded).  Now the Meeting Organizer cannot properly manage the Calendar Meeting Invite, because they cannot send updates because there are more than 500 people on the To line.

 

More Information

Onboarding into Office 365 – Pilot Testing and Tasks

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For those who are interested in moving into or onboarding into Office 365, it is very important that you take into account the following considerations:

  1. Full review of all your business and technical requirements, to fully understand the process, procedures and tasks your Information Workers perform on a daily basis.  Without performing this review and going into Office 365 you are almost guaranteed to find settings, features, functions and or limitations that do not align with your needs.  To review the Office 365 Service Descriptions, you can find them here.
  2. Once you have a good idea on whether the different Office 365 services, features, functions and capabilities are a good fit for your company, you should perform a Full Pilot Test.  This ensures that you can perform your work tasks in the cloud and find out first hand whether any limitations, restrictions or capabilities are missing that are needed.
    1. Notes
      1. I have attached an .xlsx spreadsheet to help with testing all of the different Office 365 Services, Features, Functions and Capabilities.  Note that this spreadsheet is provided as-is and may be missing a few test tasks or not account for some features or requirements your business needs.  Please use this spreadsheet and customize as you see fit!
        1. Office 365 Feature Chart – Test Plan
      2. Without this step you are almost assured to find capabilities, features or functions which don’t fully align with your business and technical requirements and will spend lots of time with Office 365 Support trying to find workarounds, solutions or ways to “make this work”.

 

I cannot emphasize these points enough.  It is very important that any company looking to use Office 365, should first review the Service Descriptions, to get a real sense of what the services can provide.  Then go through a full Pilot test pass to ensure everything works as needed, while fully documenting any “differences” or “restrictions” which may cause “pain” when using these services!

With an SD Review and Full Testing you WILL be fully informed on whether Office 365 is a good solution for you and your company and will have first hand knowledge on any items/issues/services, etc which may need to be addressed before moving forward.  Otherwise you will spend many hours with Office 365 Support in trying to find “solutions” to your business challenges, which will not be a fun experience.  Enjoy the review and I look forward to seeing you in “The Cloud” 🙂