Vanishing security settings in Exchange 2003
I may have caused a problem on my Exchange 2003 system after setting permissions in ISS and Exchange System Manager, and I'm concerned about some security settings that are no longer available. In the Exchange virtual folder in Exchange System Manager, I find all the authentication method options are grayed out. As a result, I can't configure exchange to use Integrated Windows Authentication. This is the only system we have, so I cannot compare it to another system to see what the problems might be. Can you suggest a resolution?
There are typically two reasons that the options on the Authentication Methods become grayed out and non-editable. The first is the Exchange server has been designated as a front-end server, and the second is Forms Based Authentication is enabled. Since you said that this is the only Exchange Server in your organization, I am going to assume that it is not a front-end server. After all, in order to use a front-end server you need at least one back-end (mailbox) server. If you only have one server, you cannot use the front-end/back-end topology.
Therefore, the reason your settings are grayed out are because Forms Based Authentication (FBA) has been turned on. Support for FBA (also known as "cookie auth") is new in Exchange 2003. Currently, FBA only supports Basic Authentication and it requires you to use SSL. Because FBA only supports Basic Authentication with SSL, no other authentication methods can be used. Because no other methods can be used, Microsoft programmatically disables your ability to configure other authentication methods when FBA is enabled.
This was first published in February 2004