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Exchange 2019 and WAF configuration - how to get ActiveSync working ?

Dear Sophos support team,

there have been several requests about this topic, but digging through them didn't provide a proper solution.
In the past Sophos provided a guideline for the UTM how to publish an Exchange server with WAF.

I did not find an equivalent for the XG.

So can you please provide a guideline how to publish Exchange over XG WAF with ActiveSync working and keeping WAF as secure as possible ?
Any help is appreciated.

Best Regards

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Parents Reply
  • Hi Flo,

    at first thank you and your team for the reply and the fast publication of the KB article !
    The more I'm sorry to say, there is some mistake in the proposed configuration.

    I first created the rules as shown and then triple checked them before activation.
    When activated, I'm not able to fetch mails on my mobile any more (iPhone with latest iOS) .
    I receive the message, no contact to the server could be established.

    When I checked the XG log first, I saw, that my phone's IP (german Telekom range) was blocked because of bad reputation.
    So I disabled the reputation check in the respective policy.
    Afterwards I did a relogin at my mobile network, to receive a different external IP.
    Then I tried again but received the same message.

    This time the log showed "Inbound anomaly score exceeded" for the reason of WAF Anomaly on the folder /Microsoft-Server-ActiveSync..

    Thus I switched back to my working configuration, where only the sending of email attachments fails.

    So I kindly ask your engineers, to re-check the published KB article.

    About LuCar Toni's comment, to switch to O365 Exchange Online:
    This is not an option because, I only replace one evil with another.
    GDPR does not allow to use a hosting service, which is subjected to american regulations.
    So I simply can't do this without getting in conflict with our law.

    Best Regards


  • Just wondering, which law and country does restrict/prevent you from using O365? Just curious.


  • GDPR is mandatory all over Europe:

    Here some more information about the impact on O365.

    To put it short:
    In Europe you are not allowed to transfer your data to a country, which doesn't respect privacy and has the option to access personal data.
    The US government forces all US companies, to give access on demand.
    Thus the use of hosted services, which process personal data, like email in Exchange online, is not legal for a european company.

  • That would mean, O365 is actually 0 use cases and customers, but Microsoft reports XXX % Revenue increase per year. 

    So how can they use O365, if this is not legally possible? I am just curious. Are all those customers simply ignoring the GDPR? Can i sue all O365 customers based on GDPR? Why is this not going on right now? I am just wondering. 


  • @ Toni:

    Yes, all european customers using Exchange online do ignore GDPR.
    Depending on the country, where you live, some authorities are strict, some don't care and I think some european countries don't even know, they're subjected to this ...

    In Germany, they are pretty strict and it can become expensive.
    It's pretty new and not widely known, that german courts started to make decisions against O365.

    A short time ago, I took part in an online security workshop with a bunch of professionals.
    One provider told, that a number of customers went to Exchange online after the Hafnium desaster.
    And he pointed out, this was no wise decision, because they simply switched from one "unsafe playground" to another.

    If you like to, you will be able to successfully sue O365 customers, as soon, as they decide to process personal data on Microsoft O365 services like Exchange online..
    And e-mails are definetly persional data -->


    to keep the focus on the original topic, I remind you, the KB contains some error, as I cannot connect to ActiveSync, when applying the rules as suggested.
    The clients get blocked because of bad reputation; when disabling the check, I receive WAF anomaly errors.
    Any help on resolving this is highly appreciated.

    Best Regards

  • I understand this, and i am coming from Germany as well, but the pure number of customers using Exchange online in Germany (even in the public sector) is stunning to me, if your case is correct. Because there are certain lawyers out there, using such grounds to sue every company (see Uploadfilter policies and German Copyright). I dont understand, why they do not start to sue every company based on GPDR, if its easy to win? 

    I am not here to bring arguments for or against Microsoft Cloud, but i am just curious. There are to many customers, like you said, ignore GDPR. And this does not make sense to me. Especially as i know plenty of public (government) customers using O365. 

    Microsoft came recently with a 90 Day plan to cover GDPR concerns.

    My question would be, what is worse: Leaking all Emails cause of vulnerabilities, which are clearly in weekly cycle on Exchange on Prem, or a stable version, hosted by Microsoft? 


  • About your first request:
    The intention of GDPR is, to protect the single individual from misuse of it's personal data.
    A third person (e.g. a "lawyer") is not able to charge you money, when you or your company violates GDPR.
    So they cannot earn any money on this, like it was the case with copyright infringment.

    The only party getting money, are the authorities supervising GDPR.
    Just like the street authorities, charging you for speeding or parking tickets.
    So it's the same principle: many go too fast or park at the wrong place - but as controlling personnel is limited by far not all of them are caught.
    But still the most of us agree, it's a reasonable behaviour, to keep an eye on the pace most of the time.

    GDPR is realtively new; so there is little common experience and lots of confusion.
    And for a long time there had been no court decisions.
    In this vacuum many customers started with O365.

    But there were also many, that were aware, they couldn't make legal use of O365, the way, it is designed now.
    Those asked MS to provide a GDPR compliant solution.
    Therefore MS published this "pseudo" guideline.
    "Pseudo" because ist doesn't name a solution to the most crucial point:
    all data is processed on MS systems, which can be accessed by US government authorities.
    As long as these have access, O365 will not be GDPR compliant.

    From admin sight there's no good solution:
    - Exchange on prem is unsafe, due to missing updates
    - Exchange online is also no good advice because of missing GDPR compliance

    Possible workarounds:
    - to stop publishing the on prem Webservices use VPN as entrypoint
    - switch to other mailservice+groupware, which has less known vulnerabilities

  • I cannot comment on such topics, as i am not a IT lawyer nor have the experiences. I just acknowledge the big movement to O365 and still consider this to be a valid path, even for GDPR concerns. But this is something, which needs to be discussed in different forms on different levels. 


  • As LuCar Toni pointed out it is a HUGE security risk at the moment to be running Exchange on premise with WAF. I butt out of the GDPR discussion but IMHO opinion at the moment MS is doing a very poor job at protecting on premise Exchange servers against hackers of which some are on the pay roll of countries wanting to undermine the west. You don't live under a stone so you have knowledge of the flood of ransomware attacks going on and the vulnerabilities in Exchange. Yes, IMHO MS wants us all to move to MS online. Have a look at what they are trying with Office. 2019 is probably the last perpetual version you can buy. 

    So if you are adamant about using on premise Exchange, switch to Sophos Mobile with Secure Email Client for IOS and put the Exchange behind the Sophos EASproxy and configure it to only allow known clients and select Sophos Secure Email Client as the allowed client. 

    Never allow OWA or ECP through WAF!

    just my 0,02.

  • At the time i was asking for Exchange 2019/WAF documentation, there was no word about Sophos Professional Services.
    Even Exchange 2019 was unknown to Sophos support (in 2020)...
    Even Germany Support was closed at all.

    I know, Exchange behind a WAF is a huge risk, but still better than no WAF at all.

    But i think a "good" Firewall might be some sort of help.

    But with Firewall Rules for Windows 2008 R2, SharePoint 2010 ... and old stuff like that, Sophos is not the firewall i see here.

    At least Sophos should have some uptodate of documentation for current Products.

    Microsoft is selling Office 2021

  • Related to your Product Documentation feedback, I would advise raising any content suggestions you have, on our Product Documentation Community group.

    Director, Global Community & Digital Support

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