ADFS with Exchange OWA & ECP (contd.)

This is a continuation to my post from yesterday

While OWA works fine following my post yesterday, I learnt today that ECP does not work for users in the second domain. (To use correct terminology, users in the resource forest are able to login via ADFS and access both OWA & ECP but users in the organization forest are only able to access OWA. With ECP they get an error as below). 


Yeah, sucks!

With some trial and error here’s what I learnt:

  • ECP expects the SID passed along to be that of the disabled account in the resource forest (i.e. where Exchange & ADFS are hosted). Since I am passing along the SID from the organization forest it is denying access. 
  • OWA on the other hand expects the SID passed along to be that of the active account in the organization forest (which is what we are currently passing). If one tries to make ECP happy and thus somehow pass the SID of the disabled account in the resource forest OWA complains as below. 

Screen Shot 2018 12 29 at 12 49 19 PM

I managed to work around this a bit. It is not a complete fix and I wouldn’t implement this in a production environment, but since my intention here is more to pick up ADFS than anything else I am happy I came up with this workaround. 

First off I changed my second ADFS server (the one in the organization forest) to not pass along all claims to the relying party trust with the resource forest. This is not really needed, but I had to do this for one more change I wanted to implement and figured it’s best to keep a control on the claims I pass along. As I alluded to in another post from today you can end up with duplicate claims if you pass along all claims and make changes along the way. Better to be picky. Anyways, on the second ADFS server I decided to pass along just 4 claims:


At the risk of digressing, the first claim is why I initially decided to stop passing along all claims. I have admin accounts for myself with the same username in both forests, but differing UPNs, and I wanted it to be such that when I visit OWA or ECP with the admin account of the organization forest I am signed in to OWA or ECP of the admin account of the resource forest. That is, when I sign in as (organization forest; this account has no mailbox or Exchange rights) ADFS will tell Exchange that this is actually and let me login as the latter. That’s the point of ADFS and claims and all that after all – Exchange doesn’t do any authentication, it simply listens to what the ADFS server tells and I can do all this fun stuff on the ADFS side. 

Thus I created a claim rule like this:

It takes an incoming UPN claim, does a regex replace to substitute with Easy peasy. Exchange is none the wiser and thus lets me login as and access the mailbox & ECP of 

Going back to the original issue. I thus have 4 claims as above. 

The replying party trust from the ADFS server in the resource forest to OWA works fine as it is happy with the SID it gets from the organization forest. What. I need is a way to translate the SID of the organization forest to a SID in the resource forest, and pass that to the ECP trust. I don’t need to translate SID -> SID as such; what I really need to do is lookup the account name I am getting from the organization forest and use that to find the SID in the resource forest. When I create the linked mailbox in the resource forest I use the same username as in the organization forest so what I have to do is extract this username from the incoming claims and do a lookup using that. So far so good?

To do this I removed the claim rule on the ECP relying party trust that was passing through SID. (I let the UPN one stay as it is as that’s fine).

Then I added a custom rule like this:

Sanitize Windows account name

This takes an incoming windowsaccountname claim and makes a new claim (note, I add not issue – so this claim isn’t output ever) called “” (just a dummy URI I made up, doesn’t matter) and the value of this claim is the incoming windowsaccountaname but with the domain name replaced (i.e. remove the domain name of the organization forest, replace with the domain name of the resource forest). 

Now I added another custom rule:

Lookup SID

This one takes the claim I created above (the windowsaccountname with the domain name changed) and queries AD to find the objectSID attribute of this user account. This gives me the SID of this account in the resource forest. I now return it as a primarysid claim. 

To recap here is what I have:


Do this and now ECP works via ADFS! :) Unfortunately if you now try to go to OWA it fails with the error I was getting earlier. :(


The problem here is that both OWA and ECP are in the same domain https://exchange.fqdn/ and so when I switch from OWA to ECP or vice versa I don’t hit ADFS again to re-authenticate. Since my browser already has a previously signed in session’s cookie it tries to access the new URL … and fails! And this is where I hit upon a wall and couldn’t proceed further. I figure if there’s some way to make the browser re-authenticate I can make it go to ADFS again … but I don’t know how to do that. I fiddled around with the cookie settings in IIS on the CAS server but didn’t make any progress. Exchange doesn’t let you use different URLs for OWA and ECP so there’s no way to use a different domain for either these and thus bypass cookies either. Am stuck. 

So that’s it. If anyone comes across this problem and has a better idea I’d be interested in hearing. :)

Update: A workaround.