Exchange Control Panel /ecp broken after certificate replacement

As part of an ongoing Exchange 2010 to 2016 migration, I had to replace the self-signed certificate with a certificate from the customers PKI. Everything went fine, the customer had a suitable template, we’ve added the necessary hostnames and bound IIS and SMTP to the certificate. The mess started with an iisreset /noforce

Bild von Oskars Zvejs auf Pixabay 

The iisreset took longer than expected. After that, I tried to login into the ECP, entered username and password and got an error.

<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
<System>
  <Provider Name="MSExchange Front End HTTP Proxy" />
  <EventID Qualifiers="49152">1003</EventID>
  <Level>2</Level>
  <Task>1</Task>
  <Keywords>0x80000000000000</Keywords>
  <TimeCreated SystemTime="2020-10-22T12:16:38.934123400Z" />
  <EventRecordID>368718</EventRecordID>
  <Channel>Application</Channel>
  <Computer>server.domain.tld</Computer>
  <Security />
</System>
<EventData>
  <Data>Owa</Data>
  <Data>System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object. at 
Microsoft.Exchange.HttpProxy.FbaModule.ParseCadataCookies(HttpApplication httpApplication) at 
Microsoft.Exchange.HttpProxy.FbaModule.OnBeginRequestInternal(HttpApplication httpApplication) at 
Microsoft.Exchange.HttpProxy.ProxyModule.<>c__DisplayClass16_0.<OnBeginRequest>b__0() at 
Microsoft.Exchange.Common.IL.ILUtil.DoTryFilterCatch(Action tryDelegate, Func`2 filterDelegate, Action`1 catchDelegate)
</Data>
</EventData>
</Event>

Pretty strange. We switched back to the self-singned certificate, did an iisreset and everyting was fine again.So it was pretty obvious that the error was related to the certificate, or to be more clear, to the certificate template.

A short research confirmed this. The template was a modified v3 web server template from an Enterprise CA running Windows Server 2008 R2.

With Windows Server 2008, Microsoft introduced a new cryptographic API called Cryptography Next Generation (CNG), which separates cryptographic providers (algorithm implementation) from key storage providers (create, delete, export, import, open and store keys). The older CryptoAPI does not differ between this and implements cryptographic algorithms and key storage.

The modified template used CNG instead of CryptoAPI. We noticed this when we checked the certificate with certutil -store my <thumbprint>.

If the listed provider for the certificate is Microsoft Software Key Storage Provider, then you will have to re-import the certificate. If Microsoft RSA SChannel Cryptographic Provider is used, everything is fine.

You have to remove the certificate, then re-import it using

certutil -csp "Microsoft RSA SChannel Cryptographic Provider" -importpfx <CertificateFilename>

You need a PKCS#12 file (PFX) and the password. Re-import it and then you can use the certificate for Exchange. Bind services to it and restart the IIS.

Patrick Terlisten
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