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The Death of Basic Authentication and Impact on Migrations

Disabling Basic Authentication improves security, but it may impact administrators who need to migrate Exchange Web Services. Here are some tips. By Stacey Farrar

Last October, Microsoft disabled Basic Authentication in Exchange Online, a move to protect against cyberthreats like phishing and password-based attacks. While the decision improves security, it may impact administrators who need to migrate Exchange Web Services. 

If you're executing an Exchange Online migration, you may want to give yourself extra time and do some additional planning. This planning is especially important in tenant-to-tenant migration scenarios with coexistence, Microsoft 365 groups to shared mailboxes, and public folder migrations.

Since Exchange Online migrations need Modern Authentication enabled on both ends, you'll want to find a migration tool that supports that.

Here are a few other tips as you prepare for an Exchange Online migration.  

  • Identify your goals. Any migration needs to have clear, achievable outcomes, such as improving performance, reducing costs, and enhancing security. This activity is also helpful as you establish your criteria for success. You may also want to consider how this data migration aligns with your overall data management or modernization strategy.
  • Develop your plan. This plan should include a list of data you'll be migrating, along with the location and format of those files. You'll also want to include information about the Source and Destinations and a plan for how the data will be organized and structured in the destination system, including necessary transformations or conversions. Many migration tool software vendors have robust planning resources on their websites.
  • Select a tool that supports Modern Authentication. Some admins might be surprised to learn that not all migration tools support Modern Authentication on endpoints involving mailbox migrations. You'll want one that meets this requirement. It will make your migration process much more secure, especially if you are migrating sensitive or confidential data with Microsoft 365 as your Source or Destination.

Enabling Modern Authentication helps ensure that only authorized users can access the data and that it is protected from potential security breaches such as phishing and password-based attack. This gives you peace of mind and helps minimize the risk of data loss or compromise.

You’ll also want to consider whether you’ll have a dedicated customer success manager. Will they assist with planning and troubleshooting? If so, when will they be available? For complex migrations where the situation is new to you, bringing on someone who can help you over the pitfalls is well worth it.

  • Review your security settings. Review your organization's Exchange Online tenant's security settings. Make sure you've enabled Modern Authentication on both ends and have configured it correctly. You can access this in the Exchange admin center in your Office 365 tenant to make changes.
  • Test your migration. You may want to perform a pilot migration, transferring a small subset of data to the Destination and verifying that everything works the way you planned. This helps identify issues that might arise during the full migration.
  • Move the data. After the data has been transferred and tested, and everything is working as needed, you can delete temporary files or exports from the Source system.
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