Filtering objects from Azure Active Directory

Microsoft recently made Azure AD Connect generally available and in doing so introduced a method for filtering users based on their membership in a specific group. Unfortunately, this is considered a pilot mode for Azure AD Connect – this means that if you wish to permanently filter objects based on their group membership, you’ll forever be in pilot mode. Another caveat is that you cannot change this group easily. You would need to remove Azure AD Connect and re-install it to select a different group. Indeed if you upgraded from Azure Active Directory Sync Services as I did, this option is completely unavailable to you unless you’re willing to remove and re-install Azure AD Connect.

The reason, as far as I can ascertain, is that there is no attribute of a user object that looks like memberOf on which you can perform some logical decision with the Synchronization Rules Editor.

So how do we filter? There are three methods: Domain, OU and Attribute. In my getting started with Azure Active Directory Sync Services series earlier this year, I showed how to do both of these. The first, Domain, is the obvious one. If you want objects from a domain, you would attach to it during installation. The second, OU, is buried a little deeper inside miisclient.exe but it’s something I’ve demonstrated already in my getting started guide, so I’m not going to cover old ground. The third, Attribute, is what this post is about.

When I say user attribute, what do I mean? These:

Simply put, we’re able to filter objects that are to be synchronised with Azure AD using these attributes. I’m going to demonstrate how users can be filtered in the following steps and I’m also going to demonstrate a method of using PowerShell in conjunction with the attribute filtering rule to enable the use of group membership to identify who should get an Azure AD account – pseudo group filtering. Continue reading Filtering objects from Azure Active Directory

Integrating SimpleSAMLphp with ADFS 2012R2

In my previous two posts, I’ve discussed two solutions for using Azure Active Directory authentication from a bespoke PHP web application.

In the first post I essentially re-wrote an article that originally was written on the Azure website which unfortunately no longer seems valid. The solution written there used SimpleSAMLphp and libraries written by Microsoft to implement WS-Federation for authenticating custom PHP applications with Azure AD. My first post clears up some issues and demonstrates a more logical method of configuring SimpleSAMLphp on IIS.

In my second post, I showed a more elegant solution that did away with the Microsoft WS-Federation libraries and used only SimpleSAMLphp and SAML2 to authenticate a custom PHP application with Azure Active Directory. I also showed how you can configure an Azure application to pass through groups claims in the token.

In this third (and hopefully final) post, I’ll combine components of the two previous posts and demonstrate how you can use SimpleSAMLphp to integrate directly with ADFS 2012R2.


  • A working ADFS 2012R2 implementation.
    Apologies but this isn’t something I’ve blogged about yet (I will, soon). For now, there are plenty of fantastic articles on setting up ADFS out there but when you do it, make sure you’re setting up ADFS 2012R2 (It’s on Windows Server 2012R2 of course). Why am I telling you to set it up on Windows Server 2012R2? Simple, Alternate Login ID.
  • Access to a Linux box with an updated version of OpenSSL.
    OK, so strictly you don’t need a Linux box – it’s just easier if you have access to one. We need to generate a certificate and key for token signing purposes and fiddling with installations of OpenSSL on Windows isn’t something I want to document. Spin one up in Azure and bin it once you’re done with it!

Continue reading Integrating SimpleSAMLphp with ADFS 2012R2

Single Sign-on to Azure AD using SimpleSAMLphp

In my last mammoth post, I posted an update/re-write to an article originally written on the Azure website that used some libraries provided by Microsoft to enable custom PHP applications to sign-on to Azure AD using WS-Federation. In that post I described a method for installing and configuring SimpleSAMLphp to IIS that enables it to be used by any number of sites on the same server, all that’s required is to add a simple Virtual Directory to each site. If you want to configure SimpleSAMLphp on IIS, check that post out.

The intention with this post is to do away with Microsoft’s libraries altogether and use only SimpleSAMLphp in a more integrated way. The purpose is to avoid having to re-write a lot of functionality already provided by SimpleSAMLphp that’s likely to be missing from Microsoft’s libraries, and of course open up access to SimpleSAMLphp’s documented API.

I will assume you have configured SimpleSAMLphp already using the method documented in the last post. In order to proceed in this post, you also need to have configured an application within Azure Active Directory. Again, you can find instructions for that included in the previous post.

The largest difference with this post is, as I mentioned, better integration with SimpleSAMLphp – as such, there’s more configuration to complete within SimpleSAMLphp than there was in the previous post.

  • We’ll import federation data from our Azure application in to SimpleSAMLphp.
  • We’ll configure SimpleSAMLphp as a Service Provider.
  • We’ll create a little code to get us authenticating.

Continue reading Single Sign-on to Azure AD using SimpleSAMLphp

Single sign-on with Azure AD in PHP

So, what’s this massive post about? I recently read an article on the Azure website about using Azure AD authentication with bespoke PHP applications. While the article is quick and concise – it has a number of serious issues.

First and foremost, the end result is that the solution just doesn’t work. It obviously took the writer a good amount of time to write the code for the article (assuming he did that is) but despite that, it has suffered from bit rot and a lot of people have tried and failed to use the article as a learning tool.

I’d still suggest using the article as reference material – everything has its value at the end of the day but if you do actually want custom PHP applications with Azure AD authentication to work, that article won’t give you a working solution. I’ve re-written the article and explained a few more of the concepts and expanded on a few decision points that are useful to the reader while doing battle with the code and its bit rot.

As per the original article’s introduction:

This tutorial will show PHP developers how to leverage Azure Active Directory to enable single sign-on for your own custom PHP applications. You will learn how to:

  • Install and configure SimpleSAMLphp on to an IIS web server.
  • Obtain and edit the necessary sample code associated with the original article.
  • Create and configure a custom Azure application inside Azure AD.
  • Protect the application (err, page) using WS-Federation.
  • Demonstrate actual authentication with Azure AD as well as federated authentication with an on-premises domain via Azure AD.

Continue reading Single sign-on with Azure AD in PHP

Browser Extension Show External IP

Show External IP

I’ve recently written a very small browser extension for both Chrome and Firefox to allow you to see your external IP address with just a single click. No need to open a new tab or ask Google.

Chrome Version

If you’re running Chrome, you can get the extension from the Chrome Web Store. I’ve added a screenshot of the Chrome version below. The intention is that a single click shows you your current external IP address. It works with proxies too so if, like me, you switch between proxies frequently and still need to know your external IP address, this is the tool for you.

Chrome Show External IP Extension

Firefox Version

If you’re running Firefox, you can get that version from the Mozilla Add-on Site (AMO). I’ll admit, Firefox, is, for now, my preferred browser since Chrome keeps inexplicably crashing with no reason or usable information that might allow me to resolve it so the extension was first written for Firefox. I made a couple of changes to the logo/icon between writing the Firefox version and the Chrome version but the Firefox version will get the new icon in due course – I’m just waiting for first approval of the extension in AMO before I submit an update.

showextip (1)

Yes, there are plenty of other extensions out there that do the same thing but the purpose of this exercise was to both learn and give myself an extension that isn’t subject to author changes and the introduction of more “features” (or worse, adverts) that I simply don’t want or need.

I also tend to frequently swap between proxy servers I have running on my network that are attached to VPNs that offer me a number of egress points on the Internet and I’m always curious what my IP address is so a small extension that works in Firefox and Chrome for proxies and direct connections was a good learning opportunity.

There’s nothing mind bendingly difficult in creating the extensions but it’s not bad for knowing nothing about the Mozilla SDK High Level APIs less than 24 hours ago and after I’d done the Firefox extension, doing it in Chrome took just a couple of hours.

If you have feedback or comments, leave them below.


PowerShell Parameters for Modules

One for the personal digital scrapbook. When writing PowerShell modules I always have to dig this up as reference material and I’ve added an example as well.

about_Functions_Advanced_Parameters –

Obviously you need to  Export-ModuleMember  when you’ve created the function and save the file as .psm1 to identify it as a PowerShell Module.

After writing my personal use modules, I usually want them to load automatically when I fire up a PowerShell console so I add them to [Environment]::GetFolderPath('mydocuments') + "\WindowsPowerShell\Microsoft.PowerShell_profile.ps1"  usually in a try/catch block.


Upgrading to Azure AD Connect from AADSS

Microsoft recently released to GA (Generally Available) Azure AD Connect which is a much simplified installation and replacement for DirSync and Azure Active Directory Sync Services. Under the hood, it’s the same as Azure Active Directory Sync Services except it improves the installation experience. For an introduction to Azure AD Connect and why you might want to use it, give this place a visit.

I thought that, since I’ve already done a series on Azure Active Directory Sync Services, I’d simply show the process to upgrade from Azure Active Directory Sync Services to Azure AD Connect. It is pretty idiot proof so let’s get to it.

First, download Azure AD Connect. Once you’ve downloaded it, copy it to the server that is currently running DirSync or Azure Active Directory Sync Services and double-click it.

Continue reading Upgrading to Azure AD Connect from AADSS

How to block updates in Windows 10

Microsoft Windows 10 introduces seamless update installation – but what should you do if it’s installing an update or driver that keeps breaking your PC?

On the sly, Microsoft have announced a troubleshooter to block updates that might be giving you problems – yes, you heard me, a troubleshooter.

The article in question is titled: How to temporarily prevent a Windows or driver update from reinstalling in Windows 10 and is KB3073930.

Once there, scroll past the initial few paragraphs and click:

How to block updates in Windows 10

Download the linked file, run it, select Hide Updates then select the update that keeps breaking your machine to hide it until the next driver update that supersedes that is deployed. I personally was battling with an Atheros driver issue that has caused Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) at every update/release on my trusty old Toshiba R850-169.


me, on scripting, trance and other subjects i enjoy