The Evolution of AD RMS to Azure Information Protection – Part 5 – Client-Side Migration and Testing

The Evolution of AD RMS to Azure Information Protection – Part 5 – Client-Side Migration and Testing

Welcome to the fifth entry in my series on the evolution of Microsoft’s Active Directory Rights Management Service (AD RMS) to Azure Information Protection (AIP).  We’ve covered a lot of material over this series.  It started with an overview of the service, examined the different architectures, went over key planning decisions for the migration from AD RMS to AIP, and left off with performing the server-side migration steps.  In this post we’re going to round out the migration process by performing a staged migration of our client machines.

Before we jump into this post, I’d encourage you to refresh yourself with my lab setup and the users and groups I’ve created, and finally the choices I made in the server side migration steps.  For a quick reference, here is the down and dirty:

  • Windows Server 2016 Active Directory forest named GEEKINTHEWEEDS.COM with servers running Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS), Active Directory Domain Name System (AD DNS), Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS), Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS), Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS), Azure Active Directory Connect, and Microsoft SQL Server Express.
  • Forest is configured to synchronize to Azure AD using Azure AD Connect and uses federated authentication via AD FS
  • Users Jason Voorhies and Ash Williams will be using a Windows 10 client machine with Microsoft Office 2016 named GWCLIENT1
  • Users Theodore Logan and Michael Myers will be using a Windows 10 client machine with Microsoft Office 2016 named GWCLIENT2
  • Users Jason Voorhies and Theodore Logan are in the Information Technology Windows Active Directory (AD) group
  • Users Ash Williams and Michael Myers are in the Accounting Windows AD group
  • Onboarding controls have been configured for a Windows AD group named GIW AIP Users of which Jason Voorhies and Ash Williams are members

Prepare The Client Machine

To take advantage of the new features AIP brings to the table we’ll need to install the AIP client. I’ll be installing the AIP client on GWCLIENT1 and leaving the RMS client installed by Office 2016 on GWCLIENT2. Keep in mind the AIP client includes the RMS client (sometimes referred to as MSIPC) as well.

If you recall from my last post, I skipped a preparation step that Microsoft recommended for client machines. The step has you download a ZIP containing some batch scripts that are used for performing a staged migration of client machines and users. The preparation script Microsoft recommends running prior to any server-side configuration Prepare-Client.cmd.  In an enterprise environment it makes sense but for this very controlled lab environment it wasn’t needed prior to server-side configuration. It’s a simple script that modifies the client registry to force the RMS client on the machines to go to the on-premises AD RMS cluster even if they receive content that’s been protected using an AIP subscription. If you’re unfamiliar with the order that the MSIPC client discovers an AD RMS cluster I did an exhaustive series a few years back.  In short, hardcoding the information to the registry will prevent the client from reaching out to AIP and potentially causing issues.

As a reminder I’ll be running the script on GIWCLIENT1 and not on GIWCLIENT2.  After the ZIP file is downloaded and the script is unpackaged, it needs to be opened with a text editor and the OnPremRMSFQDN and CloudRMS variables need to be set to your on-premises AD RMS cluster and AIP tenant endpoint. Once the values are set, run the script.

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Install the Azure Information Protection Client

Now that the preparation step is out of the way, let’s get the AIP client installed. The AIP client can be downloaded directly from Microsoft. After starting the installation you’ll first be prompted as to whether you want to send telemetry to Microsoft and use a demo policy.  I’ll be opting out of both (sorry Microsoft).

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After a minute or two the installation will complete successfully.

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At this point I log out of the administrator account and over to Jason Voorhies. Opening Windows Explorer and right-clicking a text file shows we now have the classify and protect option to protect and classify files outside of Microsoft Office.

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Testing the Client Machine Behavior Prior to Client-Side Configuration

I thought it would be fun to see what the client machine’s behavior would be after the AIP Client was installed but I hadn’t finished Microsoft’s recommended client-side configuration steps. Recall that GIWCLIENT1 has been previously been bootstrapped for the on-premises AD RMS cluster so let’s reset the client after observing the current state of both machines.

Notice on GWICLIENT1 the DefaultServer and DefaultServerUrl in the HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Common\DRM do not exist even though the client was previously bootstrapped for the on-premises AD RMS instance. On GIWCLIENT2, which has also been bootstrapped, has the entries defined.

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I’m fairly certain AIP cleared these out when it tried to activate when I started up Microsoft Word prior to performing these steps.

Navigating to HKCU\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\MSIPC shows a few slight differences as well. On GIWCLIENT1 there are two additional entries, one for the discovery point for Azure RMS and one for JOG.LOCAL’s AD RMS cluster. The JOG.LOCAL entry exists on GIWCLIENT1 and not on the GIWCLIENT2 because of the baseline testing I did previously.

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Let’s take a look at the location the RMS client stores its certificates which is %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\MSIPC.  On both machines we see the expected copy of the public-key CLC certificate, the machine certificate, RAC, and use licenses for documents that have been opened.  Notice that even though the AD RMS cluster is running in Cryptographic Mode 1, the machine still generates a 2048-bit key as well.

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Now that the RMS Client is reset on GIWCLIENT1, let’s go ahead and see what happens the RMS client tries to do a fresh activation after having AIP installed but the client-side configuration not yet completed.

After opening Microsoft Word I select to create a new document. Notice that the labels displayed in the AIP bar include a custom label I had previously defined in the AIP blade.

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I then go back to the File tab on the ribbon and attempt to use the classic way of protecting a document via the Restrict Access option.

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After selecting the Connect to Rights Management Servers and get templates option the client successfully bootstraps back to the on-premises AD RMS cluster as can be seen from the certificates available to the client and that all necessary certificates were re-created in the MISPC directory.

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That’s Microsoft Office, but what about the scenario where I attempt to use the AIP client add in for Windows Explorer?

To test this behavior I created a PDF file named testfile.pdf.  Right-clicking and selecting the Classify and protect option opens the AIP client to display the default set of labels as well as a new GIW Accounting Confidential label.

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If I select that label and hit Apply I receive the error below.

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The template can’t be found because the client is trying to pull it from my on-premises AD RMS cluster.  Since I haven’t run the scripts to prepare the client for AIP, the client can’t reach the AIP endpoints to find the template associated with the label.

The results of these test tell us two things:

  1. Installing the AIP Client on a client machine that already has Microsoft Office installed and configured for an on-premises AD RMS cluster won’t break the client’s integration with that on-premises cluster.
  2. The AIP client at some point authenticated to the Geek In The Weeds Azure AD tenant and pulled down the classification labels configured for my tenant.

In my next post I’ll be examining these findings more deeply by doing a deep dive of the client behavior using a combination of procmon, Fiddler, and WireShark to analyze the AIP Client behavior.

Performing Client-Side Configuration

Now that the client has been successfully installed we need to override the behavior that was put in place with the Prepare-Client batch file earlier.  If we wanted to redirect all clients across the organization that were using Office 2016, we could use the DNS SRV record option listed in the migration article.  This option indicates Microsoft has added some new behavior to the RMS Client installed with Office 2016 such that it will perform a DNS lookup of the SRV record to see a migration has occurred.

For the purposes of this lab I’ll be using the Microsoft batch scripts I referenced earlier.  To override the behavior we put in place earlier with the Prepare-Client.cmd batch script, we’ll need to run both the Migrate-Client and Migrate-User scripts.  I created a group policy object (GPO) that uses security filtering to apply only to GIWCLIENT1 to run the Migrate-Client script as a Startup script and a GPO that uses security filtering to apply only to GIW AIP Users group which runs the Migrate-User script as a Login script.  This ensures only GIWCLIENT2 and Jason Voorhies and Ash Williams are affected by the changes.

You may be asking what do the scripts do?  The goal of the two scripts are to ensure the client machines the users log into point the users to Azure RMS versus an on-premises AD RMS cluster.  The scripts do this by adding and modifying registry keys used by the RMS client prior to the client searching for a service connection point (SCP).  The users will be redirected to Azure RMS when protecting new files as well as consuming files that were previously protected by an on-premises AD RMS cluster.  This means you better had performed the necessary server-side migration I went over previously, or else your users are going to be unable to consume previously protected content.

We’ll dig more into AIP/Office 2016 RMS Client discovery process in the next post.

Preparing Azure Information Protection Policies

Prior to testing the whole package, I thought it would be fun to create some AIP policies. By default, Microsoft provides you with a default AIP policy called the Global Policy. It comes complete with a reasonably standard set of labels, with a few of the labels having sublabels that have protection in some circumstances. Due to the migration path I undertook as part of the demo, I had to enabled protection for All Employees sublabels of both the Confidential and Highly Confidential labels.

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In addition to the global policy, I also created two scoped policies. One scoped policy applies to users within the GIW Accounting group and the other applies to users within the GIW Information Technology group. Each policy introduces another label and sublabel as seen in the screenshots below.

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Both of the sublabels include protection restricting members of the relevant groups to the Viewer role only. We’ll see these policies in action in the next section.

Testing the Client

Preparation is done, server-side migration has been complete, and our test clients and users have now been completed the documented migration process. The migration scripts performed the RMS client reset so no need to repeat that process.

For the first test, let’s try applying protection to the testfile.txt file I created earlier. Selecting the Classify and protect option opens up the AIP Client and shows me the labels configured in my tenant that support classification and protection. Recall from the AIP Client limitations different file types have different limitations. You can’t exactly append any type of metadata to content of a text file now can you?

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Selecting the IT Staff Only sublabel of the GIW IT Staff label and hitting the apply button successfully protects the text file and we see the icon and file type for the file changes.  Opening the file in Notepad now displays a notice the file is protected and the data contained in the original file has been encrypted.

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We can also open the file with the AIP Viewer which will decrypt the document and display the content of the text file.

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Next we test in Microsoft Word 2016 by creating a new document named AIP_GIW_ALLEMP and classifying it with the High Confidential All Employees sublabel.  The sublabel adds protection such that all users in the GIW Employees group have Viewer rights.

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Opening the AIP_GIW_ALLEMP Word document that was protected by Jason Voorhies is successful and it shows Ash Williams has viewer rights for the file.

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Last but not least, let’s open the a document we previously protected with AD RMS named GIW_GIWALL_ADRMS.DOCX.  We’re able to successfully open this file because we migrated the TPD used for AD RMS up to AIP.

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At this point we’ve performed all necessary steps up the migration.  What you have left now is cleanup steps and planning for how you’ll complete the rollout to the rest of your user base.  Not bad right?

Over the next few posts ‘ll be doing a deep dive of the RMS Client behavior when interacting with Azure Information Protection.   We’ll do some procmon captures to the behavior of the client when it’s performing its discovery process as well as examining the web calls it makes to Fiddler.  I’ll also spend some time examining the AIP blade and my favorite feature of AIP, Tracking and Revocation.

See you next time!

 

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