Lead Image © Isaac Marzioli, 123RF.com

Lead Image © Isaac Marzioli, 123RF.com

Hands-on Exchange rights management

Rigorous Rights

Article from ADMIN 17/2013
Exchange Server 2013 provides a comprehensive, role-based rights management feature. Rights and roles can be managed in the Exchange console, with PowerShell, or with additional tools. We demonstrate all three options.

Starting with Exchange 2013, Microsoft changed its messaging server to role-based access control (RBAC). Among other things, this approach makes it easier for Windows administrators to manage user rights.

Two types of roles can be assigned: end user and administrator. Administrator roles include permissions that can be assigned to administrators who manage a particular area of the Exchange organization. If a user is a member of several role groups, Exchange grants the user the privileges of these groups.

End-user roles begin with a prefix of My. For example, members of the MyDistributionGroups user role are allowed to create their own distribution groups and delete their own groups. This is not always desirable in an enterprise environment. By modifying the permissions, you can revoke these rights for normal users. The easiest way is to create a new role based on the existing MyDistributionGroups user role, then revoke the rights and assign the role to your users.

For existing role groups, whether administrative or end-user, you can add or remove roles and add or remove members.

When you copy a role group, you create a new name and optionally add or remove roles to the new group, all without affecting the original role group.

For standard groups, it makes sense to make copies before you change the groups.

In Exchange Server 2013, the administrative role groups are located in the Permissions area. The Get-RoleGroup commandlet (cmdlet) lets you check out the various groups in the management shell. Get-RoleGroupMember shows the members of a group (e.g., Get-RoleGroupMember "Organization Management"). To add a user to a group, you can use the Exchange Management Console (Figure 1) or the Exchange Management Shell:

Add-RoleGroupMember "<management role group>" -Member "<UserMailbox>"

To remove members from a management role group, you also use the Exchange Management Console or issue the following Exchange Management Shell cmdlet:

Remove-RoleGroupMember "<management role group>" -Member "<UserMailbox>"

If you click on a group in the management console, you can see on the right-hand side which rights the group has and which members are assigned to it. To add a user to a group, double-click the group. You can then add new Members or removing existing ones.

Figure 1: Manage the various management groups in the Permissions section of the Exchange Management Console in Exchange Server 2013 or in the web-based management console, Exchange Admin Center.

Management roles summarize the cmdlets used to manage Exchange components (Figure 2). Users who are members of a management role group are allowed to use the cmdlets stored in the administrative roles, which in turn are part of the management role groups.

Figure 2: Manage management role groups with simple cmdlets in the Exchange Management Shell.

Delegating Maintenance

Management role group substitutes can add or remove members from management role groups and modify the properties of a role group, but they do not have the right to use the functions of the management role group themselves.

The substitute configuration is handled by the ManagedBy option in the Set-RoleGroup or New-RoleGroup cmdlets. If you want to assign the user the rights to the group as well, you need to include them as a member of the role group. The ManagedBy option for the Set-RoleGroup cmdlet always overwrites the entire managed-by list for a role group.

Figure 3: With PowerShell, you can assign management role group memberships and change assignments.

To add individual substitutes to a role group without deleting the entire proxy list, you must save existing members, add the new member, and then save the list again (Figure 3):

1. $RoleGroup = Get-RoleGroup "<management role group>" saves the role group settings in a variable.

2. $RoleGroup.ManagedBy += <Get-User mailbox to add>.Identity adds the substitute to the role group you saved as a variable in step 1. To add a universal group, use the Get-Group cmdlet.

3. Repeat step 2 for each substitute you want to add.

4. Set-RoleGroup "<management role group>" -ManagedBy $RoleGroup.ManagedBy adds the list of variables to the real management role group.

To view the users who are allowed to manage the group, you can use the cmdlet:

Get-RoleGroup | fl ManagedBy

In addition to the default groups, you can create your own management role groups and assign users to them. New management role groups are created with the New-RoleGroup cmdlet (Listing 1).

Listing 1

New Management Role Group

New-RoleGroup -Name "Contoso Recipient Management" \
              -Roles "Mail Recipients", "Distribution Groups", "Move Mailboxes", "UM Mailboxes", "Reset Password" \
              -CustomRecipientWriteScope "Contoso Users", \
              -ManagedBy "Thomas", "Tami", "Fynn" \
              -Members "Stefan", "Marc", "Marco", "Hans", "Michael"

If you want to create role groups that apply limited rights, you can copy existing role groups. Again, it is best to use the Exchange Management Shell for the copy.

In the first step, save the role group in a variable:

$RoleGroup = Get-RoleGroup "<group to copy>"

To create a new role group, add the role group members and define who can delegate the new role group to other users with:

New-RoleGroup -Name "<new role group>" \
              -Roles $RoleGroup.Roles \
              -Members <Member1>, <...> \
              -ManagedBy <User1>, <User2>, <...>

For example, you can copy the Organization Management role group with

$RoleGroup = Get-RoleGroup "Management"
New-RoleGroup "Limited Management" \
              -Roles $RoleGroup.Roles-Members Thomas, Michael, Hans-ManagedBy Jean, Fritz

to create a new group with fewer rights.

RBAC Manager

If you want a more convenient management option, the RBAC Manager [1] is your choice. It requires no installation and comprises a single EXE file and an XML control file. If the Exchange Management Tools are installed on a workstation, you can use RBAC Manager on a workstation (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Managing role groups in Exchange with RBAC Manager.

RBAC Manager lets you manage management roles, management role assignment policies, and management groups. Once the program is started, you can type the name of the server with which you want to connect and your credentials. Subsequently, the RBAC Manager connects to the Exchange organization and uses the logged-in user's rights. You have to install .NET Framework 3.5 on the server.

On Windows Server 2012, you can use the Server Manager for this. In the upper area, you can switch between managing management roles, assignment policies, management role groups, and management scopes. Role Groups let you manage the members, management roles, and role assignments.

You can create your own role groups or modify existing ones. RBAC Manager saves the changes to a logfile, which you can access from the Tools menu. In the logfile, you can see the PowerShell cmdlet that RBAC Manager uses to handle configuration tasks.

Monitoring the Management of Role Groups

In the Exchange Management Console, you can see who has made changes to the rights – that is, who has assigned administrator rights to other users – by:

  • selecting Compliance management | Auditing | Run an administrator role group report ,
  • choosing the role group you want to monitor, and clicking Search .

In the window, you will see all the changes. In the Exchange Management Shell, you can view the administrators and their permissions. The GetEffectiveUsers option for the Get-ManagementRoleAssignment cmdlet shows you the rights:

Get-ManagementRoleAssignment -Role "<management role>" -GetEffectiveUsers

Use the call

Get-ManagementRoleAssignment -Role "<management role>" -GetEffectiveUsers | \
   Where { $_.EffectiveUserName -Eq "<username>" }

to view a specific user, or use

Get-ManagementRoleAssignment -GetEffectiveUsers | \
   Where {$_.EffectiveUserName -Eq "<username>"}

if you want to view all the management roles for a user.

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