Discover users running Legacy Authentication and why you need to disable it

Are you running Exchange Online and still allow Basic Authentication (a.k.a. Legacy Authentication) for all users and not running MFA? Then you’re extremely exposed to attacks. Microsoft has announced the blocking of this on 13 Oct 2020 but the biggest problem is that you probably will get (and possibly already have been) breached because of it.

The truth is that it’s more just to start blocking Legacy Authentication. Once you start blocking it, ActiveSync will stop working for many users. This would also bring the discussion how to configure and roll-out MFA. And once you’re there, there’s a discussion how to configure your mobile devices since many devices don’t support ActiveSync with MFA. This also brings the discussion whether to require Outlook Mobile since this offers more security features which also results in a discussion regarding MDM. So if you’re in for such a project, contact us and we can assist.

In this post I will not explain how to configure your Conditional Access policies to block Legacy Authentication it but rather how to discover which users are actually running Legacy Authentication so you can evaluate your current usage.

What’s the problem with Legacy Authentication? It requires only username and password and we cannot require a 2nd factor of authentication, for example a one-time password. These older protocols such as SMTP, POP, IMAP and MAPI simply does not have this feature.

But I have enabled MFA? Sure, but if you don’t explicitly block legacy authentication, users will still be able to login using legacy authentication leaving the accounts vulnerable to attacks. We have seen many times that customers have enabled MFA (only) and then a few weeks later, the user gets breached and looking at the logs you see the user got breached via SMTP/IMAP/POP. Therefore, Legacy Authentication has to be blocked explicitly.

But I still need SMTP/POP/IMAP? That is very common. In the best of all worlds, you can switch the application(s) requiring this to modern authentication protocols. That is your first choice. But for the very few instances you still require legacy authentication, set a very secure password and make an exception. That would result in just a few accounts that legacy authentication still enabled.

How can I find which users are still using Legacy Authentication? Simple, go to portal.azure.com > Azure Active Directory > Sign-ins and use a filter:

Filtering out different Other clients will allow you to filter out what might require legacy authentication in the future. But remember, just because someone use legacy authentication today does not mean they require it in the future – there might be better ways to do it.

Also, it might be hard sometimes to filter if the log is huge. One possibility is to Download and then use Excel to filter more in detail.

Disclaimer: All information on this blog is offered "as is" with no warranty. It is strongly recommended that you verify all information and validate all scripts in isolated test environments before using them in production environments.