Category Archives: PowerShell

Using the Azure Run As Account in Azure Automation to Connect to Azure AD with a Service Principal

If you are using Azure Automation and working with Runbooks for automating against your Azure subscription, you can create an Azure Run As Account for authenticating and logging in to your subscription. The Azure Run As Account is configured in your Automation Account, and will do the following:

  • Creates an Azure AD application with a self-signed certificate, creates a service principal account for the application in Azure AD, and assigns the Contributor role for the account in your current subscription.
  • Creates an Automation certificate asset named AzureRunAsCertificate in the specified Automation account. The certificate asset holds the certificate private key that’s used by the Azure AD application.
  • Creates an Automation connection asset named AzureRunAsConnection in the specified Automation account. The connection asset holds the applicationId, tenantId, subscriptionId, and certificate thumbprint.

You can read more about setting up Azure Run As Accounts here, including how to do a more customized setup with PowerShell:

Something worth noting is that this Azure Run As Account will by default have the Contributor role to your entire subscription, so it would make sense to look into changing RBAC settings for the subcription or resource groups if you want to limit that. Also, all users that have access to the Automation Account will also have the opprotunity to use this Azure Run As Account.

Having said that, the Azure Run As Account is a great way to authenticate securely with certificates and a service principal name without needing to store a username and password in a credential object.

So I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could use this same Azure Run As Account to log in to your Azure AD tenant for the possibility to run Azure AD PowerShell commands? The reason I thought of this is because of this article showing how to authenticate with Azure AD v2 PowerShell and Service Principal: In this short blog post will show you how to do this.

Getting the Azure Run As Account details

First, look into your Automation Account and Account Settings to find any Run as accounts:


Click on the Azure Run As Account to see the details (or to create one if you haven’t before). Take a note of the Service Principal Object Id, we will use that later:


Creating a Runbook that Authenticates with Service Principal to Azure AD

Now, let’s create a PowerShell runbook using the Azure Run As Account for connecting to Azure AD.

First, I set the connection name  “AzureRunAsConnection”, and then save that as a variable for holding my service principal details using the Get-AutomationConnection cmdlet.

Then, logging in to Azure AD is done with specifiying TenantId, ApplicationId and CertificateThumbprint parameters, as shown below:


This will log in my service principal to Azure AD and I’m ready to run some commands, for example getting some organization details for the tenant, or counting different types of user objects:


Running this runbook will for example show me this output for my tenant. This shows that I successfully authenticated with the Azure Run As Account service principal:


Here is a link to a Gist where I have included the above PowerShell runbook script:

Role Permissions for the Service Principal

Depending on what kind of automation you want to do against Azure AD, especially if you want to write data, you will have to add the Service Principal to an Azure AD Role. Here is a couple of examples, using the object id for the service principal I told you to note earlier from the Azure Run As Account:

# Get the associated Service Principal for the Azure Run As Account
$runAsServicePrincipal = Get-AzureADServicePrincipal -ObjectId ""

# Add the Service Principal to the Directory Readers Role
Add-AzureADDirectoryRoleMember -ObjectId (Get-AzureADDirectoryRole | where-object {$_.DisplayName -eq "Directory Readers"}).Objectid -RefObjectId $runAsServicePrincipal.ObjectId

# Add the Service Principal to the User Administrator Role
Add-AzureADDirectoryRoleMember -ObjectId (Get-AzureADDirectoryRole | where-object {$_.DisplayName -eq "User Account Administrator"}).Objectid -RefObjectId $aaAadUser.ObjectId

# Add the Service Principal to the Global Administrator Role
Add-AzureADDirectoryRoleMember -ObjectId (Get-AzureADDirectoryRole | where-object {$_.DisplayName -eq "Company Administrator"}).Objectid -RefObjectId $runAsServicePrincipal.ObjectId

That concludes this short blog post, hope it has been helpful! Thanks for reading and remember to share if it was useful Smile

Azure MFA Report Dashboard in Azure Portal–The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

If you are working with EMS and implementing Azure AD, Intune, MDM, MAM, Information Protection and more, you can build yourself some great dashboards in the Azure Portal using tiles and pin blades to your customized dashboard. This is an example from my own workplace:


Often when I work with projects implementing Identity & Access, Conditional Access and Azure MFA, I wish I could have a dashboard to report on MFA registration, and be able to pin that to my EMS dashboard as shown above.

It might be in the future that Azure MFA registrations and methods will be native in the portal, but for now this information have to be retreived in another way. In this blog post I will show you how you can set up a solution for showing this information. I will use the Markdown Tile from the gallery for displaying this information, and in the end it will look like this:

I referred in the title of this blog post to the good, the bad and the ugly, and by that I mean the process of setting this up, because it starts easy enough in the beginning but it will get more “ugly” in the end 😉

The Good – Setting up the Markdown Tile

I will use the Markdown Tile for the content in my customized dashboard in my Azure Portal. The first part is easy to set up, just click Edit and find the Markdown tile from the gallery, as shown below:


Drag the tile to a place you want it on your dashboard, and the Edit the title, subtitle and content as prompted:


There is a sample content provided, other than that you can write your own markdown. I will not get into details on markdown format here, there is a lot of good guides for learning the format, for example this: I will however provide you with a sample for reporting MFA registrations and default methods. This is how I set up my markdown tile:


And here is a link to my github repository where you can get the complete file sample:

Now we need to fill that markdown tile with some real Azure AD MFA report data to report on.

The Bad – PowerShell Script for getting MFA registration and methods to Markdown

So the “bad” news is that we are reliant on running some Azure AD PowerShell commands for getting user details for MFA registration and methods. For now we are also reliant on the Azure AD v1 PowerShell (MSOnline) Module, as the new v2 AzureAD Module does not yet have any methods to get MFA authentication data. We cannot use the Microsoft Graph API either to get MFA user data, but I expect that to change in the future.

So lets look at the script I use, and after authenticating and connecting to Azure AD in my tenant with Connect-MSOLService, I will run the following commands to get details from each user where there has been configured one or more StrongAuthenticationMethods, and Group on those methods and save the results to a hash table. The results are stored in the $authMethodsRegistered object variable. Similarly I run the command once more, filtering on only showing the methods that are set to default for each user, and save to the $authMethodsDefault variable.

# Connect to MSOnline PowerShell (Azure AD v1)

# Get MFA Methods Registered as Hash Table
$authMethodsRegistered = Get-MsolUser -All | Where-Object {$_.StrongAuthenticationMethods -ne $null} | Select-Object -Property UserPrincipalName -ExpandProperty StrongAuthenticationMethods `
| Group-Object MethodType -AsHashTable -AsString

# Get Default MFA Methods as Hash Table
$authMethodsDefault = Get-MsolUser -All | Where-Object {$_.StrongAuthenticationMethods -ne $null} | Select-Object -Property UserPrincipalName -ExpandProperty StrongAuthenticationMethods `
| Where-Object {$_.IsDefault -eq $true} | Group-Object MethodType -AsHashTable -AsString

# Create a Custom Object for MFA Data
$authMethodsData = New-Object PSObject
$authMethodsData | Add-Member -MemberType NoteProperty -Name AuthPhoneRegistered -Value $authMethodsRegistered.TwoWayVoiceMobile.Count
$authMethodsData | Add-Member -MemberType NoteProperty -Name AuthPhoneAppRegistered -Value $authMethodsRegistered.PhoneAppOTP.Count
$authMethodsData | Add-Member -MemberType NoteProperty -Name OfficePhoneRegistered -Value $authMethodsRegistered.TwoWayVoiceOffice.Count
$authMethodsData | Add-Member -MemberType NoteProperty -Name AlternatePhoneRegistered -Value $authMethodsRegistered.TwoWayVoiceAlternateMobile.Count
$authMethodsData | Add-Member -MemberType NoteProperty -Name OneWaySMSDefault –Value $authMethodsDefault.OneWaySMS.Count
$authMethodsData | Add-Member -MemberType NoteProperty -Name PhoneAppNotificationDefault –Value $authMethodsDefault.PhoneAppNotification.Count
$authMethodsData | Add-Member -MemberType NoteProperty -Name PhoneAppOTPDefault –Value $authMethodsDefault.PhoneAppOTP.Count
$authMethodsData | Add-Member -MemberType NoteProperty -Name TwoWayVoiceMobileDefault –Value $authMethodsDefault.TwoWayVoiceMobile.Count
$authMethodsData | Add-Member -MemberType NoteProperty -Name TwoWayVoiceOfficeDefault –Value $authMethodsDefault.TwoWayVoiceOffice.Count

# Write to Markdown file
"## MFA Authentication Methods`n" | Set-Content .\ -Force -Encoding UTF8
"### Registered`n" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"The following methods has been registered by users:`n" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"| Method | Count |" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"|:-----------|:-----------|" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"| Authentication Phone | " + [string]$authMethodsData.AuthPhoneRegistered + " |" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"| Phone App | " + [string]$authMethodsData.AuthPhoneAppRegistered + " |" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"| Alternate Phone | " + [string]$authMethodsData.AlternatePhoneRegistered + " |" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"| Office Phone | " + [string]$authMethodsData.OfficePhoneRegistered + " |" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"### Default Method" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"The following methods has been configured as default by users:" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"| Method | Count |" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"|:-----------|:-----------|" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"| OneWay SMS | " + [string]$authMethodsData.OneWaySMSDefault + " |" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"| Phone App Notification | " + [string]$authMethodsData.PhoneAppNotificationDefault + " |" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"| Phone App OTP | " + [string]$authMethodsData.PhoneAppOTPDefault + " |" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"| TwoWay Voice Mobile | " + [string]$authMethodsData.TwoWayVoiceMobileDefault + " |" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"| TwoWay Voice Office Phone | " + [string]$authMethodsData.TwoWayVoiceOfficeDefault + " |`n" | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8
"Last reported " + [string](Get-Date) | Add-Content .\ -Encoding UTF8

"" | Add-Content .\

The complete PowerShell script can be found at my GitHub repository here:

So now we have a script where we can get MFA authentication details for each user and create a markdown file that we can use in the tile in the Azure Portal custom dashboard. But it is all a manual process now, and it works fine for an ad hoc update. If we want to automate however, we have to get into the “ugly” stuff 😉

The Ugly – Automating Markdown creation and update Dashboard

This part requires multiple steps. First we need to schedule and run the PowerShell commands from above. Then we need to find a way to update the customized dashboard tile with the updated markdown file. To summary, this is what we need now:

  • Schedule the PowerShell script to run automatically. We can use Azure Automation for that.
  • Programmatically change the markdown tile in the customized dashboard. We can use Azure Resource Manager Rest API for that.

Lets get into the Azure Automation solution first. To run a PowerShell script I will need to create a Runbook, and in that Runbook I need to authenticate to Azure AD. I can define a Credential Asset with a username and password for a global admin user, but I like to use the least privilege possible, and besides that all my global admins are either protected by Azure AD PIM and/or MFA, so that won’t work. I prefer to use a service principal whereever possible, but after testing extensively with Connect-MSOLService that is not supported either.

So I tested with a dedicated Azure AD credential account, first by only adding the user to the Directory Readers role. I was able to list all users with Get-MSOLUser, but not any StrongAuthentication info. Neither did it work with Security Readers. In the end I added the user account to User Administrator role in Azure AD, and I was successful getting StrongAuthentication methods.

So, in my automation accont I will add or reuse my credentials:


Next, I will create a new PowerShell script based Runbook, basically I will use the PowerShell script from earlier in the blog, but with a couple of added parameter and getting the credential using the Get-PSAutomationCredential method. This is how it looks, you will get link to the complete script later:


And after testing, I can see that I successfully will get the content (added a Get-Content .\ at the end to display the output):


Now that we have a solution for running the PowerShell script and generating the markdown file, the next part is how to update that data in the custom dashboard. And for that we need to look into programatically changing Azure Portal dashboards. There is a good resource and starting point for that in this article:

First you need to share the custom dashboard, remember to include the markdown tile we set up in the first part of this blog post. At the top in the portal dashboard, select the Share button:


By sharing the dashboard will published as an Azure resource. Specify a name, select the subscription and either use the default dashboard resource group or select an existing one:


Go to Resource Explorer in the Portal:


Navigate to Subscriptions, Resource Groups, and find the resource group and resource containing the custom dashboard. From there you will be able to see the JSON definition of the dashboard and specifically the markdown tile containing the content we want to update:


So for next process now we need to copy this complete JSON definition containing all your tiles including the markdown tile. Locally on your computer, create a .json file in your favorite JSON editor, I use Visual Studio Code for this, and paste in the content. I have named my file DeploymentTemplateMFAReport.json.

Now we need to change this template to be ready for deployment, and for that we need to add or change a couple of things. First, in the start of the JSON file, add schema and versioning, and parameters, variables and resources section like I have shown below in line 1-17:


I have chosen to use 3 parameters, the markdown content itself, and name of the dashboard and the title of the dashboard.

Next, find the tile for the markdown content, and change the content value to the value of the parameter, like I have done at line 113 here:


And last, at the end of the json template, add and change the following settings, I have used my parameters for the dashboard name and the dashboard title here in the lines 401-411:


My deployment template for the customized dashboard is now completely general and can be used in every environment. In fact you are welcome to borrow and use my template from above her, I have included it in my github repository:

Working locally in my Visual Studio Code editor, I can now test the deployment using Azure PowerShell, as shown below and described with these simple steps:

  1. Connect to Azure Resource Manager and select the Subscription
  2. Specify a variable for the Resource Group you want to deploy to
  3. The file (which we created earlier) need some converting to JSON format, I’m removing all espace characters and any uneeded special characters
  4. Specify variable names your environment for name and title for the dashboard
  5. Deploy the custom dashboard to the resource group


However, now that we can test the deployment, I want to schedule a deployment using Azure Automation, and I will continue on my previous runbook from before. But first we need to set up some connections for authenticating to Azure and some variables.

I Azure Automation we can create an Azure Run As Account, this will also create a service principal. If you navigate to your Automation Account in the Azure Portal, and go to the section called Run as accounts, you can create an Azure Run As Account automatically, as I have done here:


If I look more closely at this generated Run As Account, I can see details for Azure AD App Registration, Service Principal, Certificate and more. This account will also automatically be assigned Contributor role for my Azure Subscription. If you want more control over Azure Run As Accounts, you can create your own as described in the following article:


I will use this Azure Run As account in my environment to deploy the dashboard resource, I’ll just need to make sure the account has contributor access to the resource group. Next I will set ut a few variables under the Variables section for my Automation Account, I will use these variables when I deploy the resource:


Now we are ready to finally put together the complete Runbook and test it. You will have the complete link later in the blog post, but I will share some screenshots first:

After I’ve connected with Connect-MSOLService I’m creating a variable for the markdown content, so I’ve changed from earlier when I saved a .md file temporarily, now I just adding lines using the newline special character (`n):


The next part is for logging in to Azure (using the Azure Run As Account mentioned above), and then getting my variables ready for deployment:


Then I convert the markdown content to Json format, and removing any escape characters that I don’t need:


And then deploy the dashboard resource with parameters for markdown content and dashboard name & title. Note that I’m using my deployment template as a source from my github repository via the TemplateUri property:


You can use any TemplateUri you want, for example from a more private source like a storage account blob etc.

Testing the Runbook gives the following output, which shows it was successful:


When I now go and refresh the dasboard in the portal, I can see that the markdown tile has been updated:


That leaves me with just publishing and scheduling the runbook:


When creating a new schedule specify a name and recurrence:


Link the schedule to the runbook and any needed parameters, I have to specify my credential that are allowed to Connect-MSOLService:


That concludes this lengthy blog post. The script will now run regularly and update my custom markdown tile with MFA report data.

Here is the link to the PowerShell script used in my Azure Automation runbook, enjoy your MFA Reporting!


Getting started with Azure AD PIM PowerShell Module

This is a short blog post showing how you can get started and some examples of using the PIM PowerShell Module for Azure AD Privileged Identity Management.

You can read more about Azure AD Privileged Identity Management here:, or by just using the following short URL:!

Installing the Azure AD PIM PowerShell Module

Since there are no PIM related commands in the AzureAD or AzureADPreview PowerShell Modules, we will have to install a separate module for PIM. You can find this module at the PowerShell Gallery here:

To install the module just run the following command in an elevated PowerShell session:

Install-Module Microsoft.Azure.ActiveDirectory.PIM.PSModule


After installing you can list the available commands in the PIM module:

Get-Command -Module Microsoft.Azure.ActiveDirectory.PIM.PSModule


Here is a short explanation of the available commands:

  • Connect-PimService. Prompts you to log on with an Azure AD Account that might have any PIM roles assigned. You can optionally specify a username, tenantname or credential object as parameters. Especially tenantname would be useful if you are a guest user with roles assigned in another tenant.
  • Show-PimServiceConnection. This will show the active PimService session details you have, after connecting with Connect-PimService.
  • Get-PrivilegedRoleAssignment. This would list any permanent or eligible role assignments the user you connected with using Connect-PimService has.
  • Enable-PrivilegedRoleAssignment. This command will enable a specified role assignments. It is required to specify which role either by RoleId or by a RoleAssignment variable. It is also required to specify a Duration for activation. Optional parameters includes Reason, TicketNumber, TicketSystem and StartTimeUtc.
  • Disable-PrivilegedRoleAssignment. If you previously have activated one or more roles with Enable-PrivilegedRoleAssignement, you can preemptively deactivate these roles again before the duration expires. You must specify a RoleId or RoleAssignment variable.
  • Disconnect-PimService. Disconnects any previous sessions to PimService.

Examples of Azure AD PIM Commands

In the following I will show some examples of using the Azure AD PIM Module.


In the following I’m connecting with a specified username, if it is required to use Azure MFA for this user I will be prompted for that as well:

Connect-PimService –UserName <username>



After authenticating, PIM service connection details are returned, here slightly masked:


The above returned is exactly the same as would be returned by running the command:



This command will list any role assignments, permanent or eligible your user might have. Here is a couple of examples for outputs for two different admin users. The first user is eligible for Security Administrator and Privileged Role Administrator, and permanent for Global Administrator:


The second admin user is eligible for Exchange Administrator and Global Administrator:


If I want to assign a variable to a role assignment, I can do it like the following command:

$roleAssignment = Get-PrivilegedRoleAssignment | Where {$_.RoleName -eq "Privileged Role Administrator"}

I now have a role assignment variable I can use in the following commands.


To enable one of my roles, I need to specify a duration (PS! keep inside the allowed role settings for max duration!), and specify which role either by RoleId or RoleAssignment variable. Optional parameters like Reason etc can also be specified.

Here is a working example:

Enable-PrivilegedRoleAssignment –Duration 1 –RoleAssignment $roleAssignment –Reason “Add crmadmin to CRM Administrators”

After running the command, if successful it will return as a submitted request for activating role membership.


By running Get-PrivilegedRoleAssignment again, we can now see that the role of “Privileged Role Administrator” is indeed activated (elevated), and with a ExpirationTime (UTC time):


PS! If you have required MFA on activation for the role, one of two things will happen:

  1. If the user already has verified the identity with Azure MFA when authenticating with Connect-PimService, the user will not be asked again. This is the same experience as by using the Azure Portal for activating roles.
  2. If the user hasn’t verified with Azure MFA, the user will be prompted when activating the role, similar to this example:



Any roles you have activated will automatically deactivate after the duration specified has passed. However, if you are finished doing administrative tasks with your role, you can deactivate the role manually.

To deactivate an active assignment, run the following command specifying a RoleId or RoleAssignment variable:

Disable-PrivilegedRoleAssignment –RoleAssignment $roleAssignment



To end your connection to Azure AD PIM Service, run the following command:


After running that command you can also see that there are no role assignments to list anymore.


Hope these commands and examples have been helpful, enjoy working with Azure AD PIM!

Shutdown and Deallocate an Azure VM using Managed Service Identity and Instance Metadata Service

The purpose of this blog post is to show how you can run a PowerShell script on an Azure VM that will shutdown and deallocate the actual VM the script is run on.

First, kudos to Marcel Meurer (Azure MVP), that originated the idea of how to run a PowerShell script that will shut down and deallocate the VM from inside itself, this is a good read:

Marcels blog learnt me of something I havent used before, Azure Instance Metadata Service, where I can get information on my current VM instance. I wanted to combine this with using Managed Service Identity (MSI), and actually let the VM authenticate to itself for running the shut down command. The shut down command will be using the Azure REST API.

First, let us set up the requirements and permissions to get this to work.

Configure Managed Service Identity

Managed Service Identity is feature that as of January 2018 is in Public Preview, and by using MSI for Azure Virtual Machines I can authenticate to Azure Resource Manager API without handling credentials in the code. You can read more on the specifics here:

First, we need to set up the Managed Service Identiy the VMs in question. This is done under the VM configuration, by enabling Managed service identity as shown below:


After saving the configuration, wait for the Managed service identity to be successfully created. This will create a service principal in Azure AD, and for VMs this will have the same name as the virtual machine name.

Now we need to give that service principal access to its own VM. Under the VMs Access Control (IAM) node, select to add a permission for the service principal as shown under. I have given the role of Virtual Machine Contributor, which means that the MSI will be able to write to and perform operations on the VM like shutdown, restart and more:


So for each VM we want to use this PowerShell script, we will need to do the same 2 operations, enable MSI and add service principal permission to the VM:


PowerShell script for Shutdown and Deallocate using MSI

The following script will when run on the Azure VM do the following steps: (full script follows below as the images are small)

  1. Read instance metadata and save subscription, resource group and vm name info:image
  2. Authorize itself to Managed Service Identity:image
  3. Send an Azure Resource Manager REST API POST command for shutdown and deallocate:imageThe REST API call for shutting down a VM uses method POST and the following URI format:{subscriptionId}/resourceGroups/{resourceGroup}/providers/Microsoft.Compute/virtualMachines/{vm}/deallocate?api-version={apiVersion}(

When this script is run on a VM the following output will display that the REST operation was successful, and shortly after the server goes down and deallocates as excpected.


To summarize, this blog post showed how we can use Managed Service Identity together with Azure Instance Metadata Service, to let the VM manage itself. This example showed how to shut down and deallocate, but you can use the REST API for other operations like restart, get info, update the VM and so on. Best of all with using MSI, is that we don’t have to take care of application id’s, secret keys and more, and having those exposed in the script which can be a security issue.

The complete PowerShell script is shown below:

Using Azure AD Managed Service Identity to Access Microsoft Graph with Azure Functions and PowerShell

Recently Microsoft released an exciting new preview in Azure AD: Managed Service Identity! You can go and read the details at the Enterprise Mobility + Security blog, and some examples of usage scenarios:

Managed Service Identity makes it possible to keep credentials out of code, and that is a very inviting prospect. As I have been exploring Microsoft Graph in different scenarios using PowerShell, I thought I should have a go at using Managed Service Identity in an Azure Function and run some PowerShell commands to get data from the Microsoft Graph. Lets get started!

Configuring the Azure Function

First, if you haven’t already created an existing Azure Function App, go ahead and do that. Here is my Function App I will use in this demo:


Next, open the Function App and go to Platform features, and then click on Managed service identity:


Under Managed service identity, select to Register with Azure Active Directory:


After saving you should get a successful notification that the managed service identity has been registered.


Let’s check what has happened in Azure AD, to that I will use the AzureAD PowerShell CmdLets. After connecting to my Azure AD tenant, I will try to get the Service Principal:


And get some properties of that object:


We can see that the Service Principal object is connected to the Azure Function App and of type ServiceAccount.


Now, we are ready for the next step, which is to create a function that will get data from Microsoft Graph. But first we will need to give this Service Principal some permissions.

Permissions and Roles for the Managed Service Identity

Depending of what you want to do with your Function App, the managed service identity, represented by the service principal, will need some permissions to access resources. You could give the service principal rights to Azure resources like Virtual Machines, or to access Key Vault secrets (a nice blog post on that here:

In my scenario I want to access the Microsoft Graph, and specifically get some Directory data like user information from my Azure AD. When accessing Microsoft Graph you would normally register an Azure AD Application and set up Application or Delegated Permissions, and follow the authentication flow for that. But in this case I want the Service Principal to be able to directly access Directory Data, so I will have to give my Service Principal permission to do that.

The following Azure AD commands adds my service principal to the AD Directory Role “Directory Readers”:

image When listing membership in that role I can see my Service Principal has been added:


Creating a PowerShell Function for the Managed Service Identity

In your Function App, you can now create a new Function, selecting language PowerShell, and in this case I will create it as a HttpTrigger Function:


If you have been following the flow of the blog post until now, we can now check if the Function App is ready for using the Managed Service Identity (MSI). Two environment variables will be created, and you can check if they exist by going to Platform features, and then selecting Advanced tools (Kudo). Under environment you would se something like this if everything is ready (it could take a little time, so re-check until its there):


These two environment variables will be needed in the Azure Function, so we will start by getting that:


If I run the Function I can see from the output that I was able to retrieve the environment variables:


Next I will specify some URI and parameters for my authentication request using the managed service identity. I will need to specify the version (currently 2017-09-01 as specified in the documentation), and since I want to get data from the Microsoft Graph, I will need to specify that as the resource URI. I then build the URI for getting the authentication token:


With that, I can now do an authentication request, which if successful will return an access token I can use as a Bearer token in later queries agains the Microsoft Graph:


Let’s do another test run and verify that I can get an Access Token:


Querying the Microsoft Graph

With a valid Access Token, and with the correct permissions for the resources I will want to access, I can now run some Microsoft Graph API queries.

In my example I have some test users in my tenant named after the popular Seinfeld show. In fact I have set a “Seinfeld” department attribute value on those. So my query for getting those users would be:$filter=Department eq ‘Seinfeld’

A great way to test Microsoft Graph Commands is to use the Graph Explorer,, and if you sign in to your own tenant you can query your own data. As an example, I have showed that here:


In my Azure Function I can define the same query like this (PS! note the escape character before the $filter for it to work):


And with that I can request the user list using Microsoft Graph and a Authorization Header consisting of the Access Token as a Bearer:


Let’s output some data from that response:


And there it is! I’m able to successfully query the Microsoft Graph using Managed Service Identity in an Azure Function, without handling any credentials.

For reference, I have attached both the Azure AD PowerShell  commands, and the Function PowerShell commands below from my Gist. Enjoy!

Azure AD PowerShell SPN commands:

Azure Function PowerShell Trigger:

Looking in to the Changes to Token Lifetime Defaults in Azure AD

In a recent announcement at the Enterprise Mobility Blog,, there will be a change for default settings to the Token Lifetime Defaults in Azure Active Directory for New Tenants only. This change will not affect existing old Tenants.

I have summarized the changes in this table:


This is great news for many customers to remove user frustration over authentication prompts when refresh tokens expired after a period of inactivity. For example, if I havent used an App on my mobile phone for 14 days, I have to reauthenticate with my work/school account again to get a new Access Token and Refresh Token. Some Apps I use quite often, like Outlook and OneDrive, and by keeping active the Refresh Token will be continously renewed as well together with the Access Token (which by default is valid for 1 hour). For my existing tenant this would mean that keeping active, and at least using the Refresh Token inside the 14 Days, I will get new Access and Refresh Tokens, but after 90 Days the Single and/or Multi factor Refresh Token Max Age will be reached, and I have to reauthenticate again in my Apps.

Some Apps I will naturally use more rarely, for example Power BI, Flow, PowerApps etc. (this will be different for each user type), but I risk having to reauthenticate every time if I only access these Apps every other week.

So for New Tenants this has now changed, as Refresh Tokens will be valid for 90 Days, and if you use the Refresh Token inside that period, you will get 90 more days. And furthermore, the Max Age for Single/Multi factor Refresh Token will have a new default of Until-revoked, so basically it will never expire.

Keep in mind though, that Azure AD Administrators can revoke any Refresh Token at any time. Refresh Tokens will also be invalid if the authenticated users password changes or expire. It is also nice to be aware of that every time a Refresh Token is used to get a new Access Token, Conditional Access and Identity Protection from Azure AD will be used to check if the User or Device is in a Compliant State with any policies defined.

A few words on the Confidential Clients also. Confidential Clients are typically Web Apps that are able to securely store Tokens and identity itself to Azure AD, so after the User has Authenticated and actively Consented to access specific Resources, the resulting Access and Refresh Tokens can be used until revoked, as long as the Refresh Token are used at least once inside 90 Days (New Tenants) or 14 Days (Old Tenants).

If you want to read more deep dive on configurable Token Lifetimes, you can follow this link:

Azure AD PowerShell examples for changing Token Lifetime Defaults

I have created some Azure AD PowerShell V2 examples for how you can change the Token Lifetime Policy defaults in your organization.

First connect to your Tenant and see if there already are defined any policies (normally there would be nothing):


Then lets make a definition that reflects the new defaults for New Tenants:


So if you already have an existing old tenant, and you want to change the default policy so that it reflects the new Token Lifetime settings, you can run this command:


A different scenario, lets say I have a New Tenant, and want to use the old default values instead. I will make a definition that reflects that:


And create a policy using these definitions:


Last, I will leave you with commands for changing any existing Azure AD policies:


The complete list of Azure AD PowerShell CmdLets used and examples can be found here at my Gist repository.

Hopefully this has been informative and helpful for Azure AD Administrators and others Smile!

Experts and Community unite again at Experts Live Europe in Berlin

Last week I was back at this great Community conference, previously known as System Center Universe Europe (SCU Europe), and this year for the first time under the name Experts Live Europe, part of the Experts Live network ( This conference is well known for its great content, top speakers, sponsors and great community, where you meet friends old and new, and generally have a great time the 3 days the conference lasts.

This year the conference was held in the BCC by Alexanderplatz in Berlin, the same venue as last year. With almost 400 people from 28(!) different countries, I was very proud again to be among the great set of Experts and MVPs presenting sessions on topics from Cloud, Datacenter, Management, PowerShell, IoT, Azure, EMS, and more.


I presented two breakout sessions, the first one was about how to “Take your Azure AD and Intune Management Skills to the Next Level with Microsoft Graph API and PowerShell”, a practical and demo-heavy session.  The PowerShell script I used in the demos can be found in my GitHub repository:


The second session I presented was on “Mastering Azure Active Directory v2”, where I discussed features in the new Azure AD Portal for Azure AD Administrators that have previously used the classic portal or Office 365 admin portal for managing users, licenses, and admin roles and more. We also looked at the Azure AD v2 PowerShell, that will replace the v1 (MSOL) cmdlets. Look to my Gist repository for several examples on using Azure AD v2 cmdlets,


I also had the pleasure to be in a discussion panel with Microsoft Intune Principal Program Manager Simon May, CDM MVP Tudor Damian and my fellow Norwegian EMS MVP Jan Ketil Skanke, where we had good questions and discussions from the attendance on the topic Identity, Security and Compliance.


The days went by really fast, and soon it was time for the closing note and the traditional trivia with funny stories and facts from the past conferences. One of the questions was how many have attended all 5 conferences (speakers, sponsors and attendees), the correct answer was not known, but the audience who had done this was invited onto the stage, and 10 people (in addition to Marcel) had their loyalty appriciated with claps and cheers from the room. And, I’m one of those that has been to all conferences 🙂


So with that ended the 5th annual conference that used to be SCU Europe and is now Experts Live. I have made some great friends there, and the conference has a family feeling going back there every year. There has been some early mornings, and some late nights, as it should be.


Thanks for me, Berlin and Experts Live, next year it will another place, it will be exiting to see where it will be. I know I will be back, hope you will to!