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A Comprehensive Overview of Basic Authentication and Exchange Online June 2021 Update

Embracing the Cloud with Exchange Online
The cloud is here to stay, and businesses of all sizes are embracing it with open arms. For many SMBs, the cloud is a cost-effective and efficient way to access the same enterprise-level solutions that larger enterprises enjoy. One of those solutions is Exchange Online, Microsoft’s cloud-based email and collaboration platform.

Exchange Online – A Brief Overview
Exchange Online is a cloud-based email and collaboration platform that provides organizations with a secure, reliable, and cost-effective solution for managing their email, calendar, contacts, and tasks. Exchange Online offers a variety of features, including:

* Secure and reliable access to email, calendars, and contacts from any device, anywhere;
* Robust anti-spam and anti-malware protection;
* Collaboration features such as shared calendars, public folders, and file sharing;
* Advanced security features, such as Multi-Factor Authentication and Conditional Access policies;
* Integration with Outlook and Office 365;
* The ability to customize Exchange Online with custom PowerShell scripts and additional solutions.

The Latest Update to Exchange Online
Microsoft recently announced an update to Exchange Online, which includes the deprecation of Basic Authentication. The deprecation of Basic Authentication is part of an effort to improve security and reduce the risk of account takeover.

When this update is implemented, Exchange Online users will no longer be able to use Basic Authentication to access their email accounts. Instead, they will be required to use Modern Authentication, which is based on the OAuth 2.0 protocol.

Understanding OAuth 2.0
In order to understand why Modern Authentication is more secure than Basic Authentication, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the OAuth 2.0 protocol.

OAuth 2.0 is an open standard for authorization that enables applications to securely access data from other applications. It works by allowing users to securely share their credentials with applications that are trusted by the user and the application.

When an application uses OAuth 2.0, the user is first redirected to the identity provider (IDP) to authenticate. This could be a Microsoft account, Facebook, or any other type of identity provider. The IDP then authenticates the user and sends a “token” to the application. The application can then use the token to access the user’s data, without needing to store the user’s credentials.

Benefits of OAuth 2.0
OAuth 2.0 provides several benefits over Basic Authentication. First, it is more secure because the user’s credentials are never shared with the application. Second, it is more convenient because users don’t have to remember multiple passwords. Third, it allows for better control over user access. For example, an organization can use Conditional Access policies to control who can access their data and what type of access they have.

Implementing OAuth 2.0 in Exchange Online
To implement OAuth 2.0 in Exchange Online, organizations will need to ensure that their users are using Modern Authentication. This can be done using PowerShell scripts, which can be written to configure Exchange Online accounts to use Modern Authentication.

Organizations will also need to ensure that their users are using a modern browser, such as Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox. Finally, organizations should consider implementing Multi-Factor Authentication, which provides an additional layer of security for users.

Conclusion
The cloud is here to stay, and Exchange Online is a great solution for organizations that want to take advantage of the cloud. Microsoft’s latest update to Exchange Online is a welcome addition, as it ensures that user accounts are more secure and reduces the risk of account takeover. By implementing OAuth 2.0, organizations can ensure that their users are using Modern Authentication and can take advantage of the additional security benefits that it provides.
References:
Basic Authentication and Exchange Online – June 2021 Update

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