Azure AD Self-Service Password Reset Issues

We recently saw an issue with Azure AD self-service password reset (SSPR). It’s been working fine for us for ages, ever since we first configured it using DirSync, but recently users started seeing the following message:

Please Contact Your Admin

Get back into your account

Please contact your admin

We’ve detected that your user account password is not managed by Microsoft. As a result, we are unable to automatically reset your password.

You will need to contact your admin or helpdesk for any further assistance.

As we’d made no changes, we were obviously concerned!

Initially I took the following steps to try and resolve the issue:

  1. Ensured that the OS patch levels of the servers (Azure AD Connect, ADFS, WAP) were up-to-date, which they were.
  2. Upgraded Azure AD Connect to the most recent version. The version we were running was a little behind, but not significantly so. During the upgrade process, the wizard takes you through what you’d normally see if you reconfigure Azure AD Connect and select the ‘customize synchronization options’ task. The optional features selected were still the same as we’d picked the previous time we’d upgraded, and included ‘password writeback’.

Unfortunately none of the steps taken above made any difference.

Looking in the configuration page for Azure AD in the old portal, I noticed that the ‘Password write back service status’ was still set to ‘Not configured’:

Password Write Back Service Status Not Configured

Which, bearing in mind I’d just upgraded Azure AD Connect and been through the configuration wizard and seen that this option was ticked, should not as far as I was concerned be the case.

To correct the issue therefore, I took the following steps:

  1. Launched the configuration of Azure AD Connect and selected the ‘customize synchronization options’ task.
  2. When presented with the optional features configuration page of the wizard, unticked the ‘password writeback’ option and then completed the configuration.
  3. Repeated the above steps, but this time ensured that the ‘password writeback’ option was ticked:
    Azure AD Connect Password Writeback Config Option

Checking the configuration page in the old Azure Portal again, the status of the ‘Password write back service’ is now ‘Configured’ and the correct SSPR prompts are again being displayed to users.

Offline Domain Join with Direct Access

I was recently in the position that I needed to rebuild a workstation at a remote location, but wanted to end up with it joined to the domain, and able to install software via the SCCM Software Center. Enter Offline Domain Join (djoin.exe)!

Offline Domain Join allows the creation of a machine account and the establishment of a trust relationship between a computer running Windows and a Domain. As part of the process, group policy information can also be transferred to the machine that will be joined to the domain.

Assuming Direct Access is available, the appropriate group policy information for Direct Access can be transferred as part of the process, and this should then allow the remote machine to establish a connection to the domain and from there all remaining group policy information can be transferred, the Configuration Manager client installed etc.

Information on ‘djoin.exe’ including examples for use can be found at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/offline-domain-join-djoin-step-by-step

My scenario was:

  • The machine account already existed in the correct OU and was a member of the appropriate groups for Direct Access (the machine name had already been used; this was a rebuild) and therefore I needed to use the ‘/reuse’ parameter.
  • The only group policy information I wanted to transfer to the remote machine was for Direct Access. I anticipated that all other group policy information would be transferred automatically once a Direct Access connection had been established.

In my case, the command I used on the provisioning server were:

djoin /provision /domain domain.com /machine MyWorkstation /savefile MyWorkstation-blob.txt /reuse /policynames “Direct Access Client”

The resultant blob should be transferred securely – take note of what the TechNet page says on the matter:

The base64-encoded metadata blob that is created by the provisioning command contains very sensitive data. It should be treated just as securely as a plaintext password. The blob contains the machine account password and other information about the domain, including the domain name, the name of a domain controller, the security ID (SID) of the domain, and so on. If the blob is being transported physically or over the network, care must be taken to transport it securely.

On the remote workstation, the command I used was:

djoin /requestODJ /loadfile MyWorkstation-blob.txt /windowspath %SystemRoot% /localos

At this point you’re prompted to reboot the workstation. Once the reboot was complete, I left the machine for a few minutes to allow it to establish a connection, then signed in. Everything worked as anticipated and I could log in as a domain user and a Direct Access connection was established. Following a group policy update, the Configuration Manager client was transferred and installed, and a short time later the Software Center became available and I could add software made available from SCCM.