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Implementing Edge Services for an Exchange Server 2007 Environment : Installing and Configuring the Edge Transport Server Components

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The first thing that needs to be done is to determine how the Edge Transport server role will be implemented and configured in the Exchange environment. This involves planning and designing the placement of the Exchange Edge Transport server location, considering configuration options, and then actually installing the Edge Transport Services onto a server in the network. This section defines the configurable items for the components available on an Exchange 2007 server when the Edge Transport server role is selected during installation. Several items are identified in this section specific to the appropriate configuration options to properly achieve a secure, effective, and stable Edge Transport server environment.

Planning the Implementation of the Edge Transport Servers in Exchange

The first item to consider when installing and configuring the Edge Transport Services is the desired end result of the email message or connection being processed by the Edge Transport server. Determining what type of email should always be rejected, quarantined, or tagged for end-user review or which connections should be blocked and for how long will help reduce the amount of false positives and allow for a moderately aggressive spam filtering policy the first time Edge Transport servers begin monitoring email for an organization.

Planning for the Message Processing Order of Edge Services

To assist with the planning for your Edge Transport server deployment, take a moment to become familiar with the order in which filtering agents analyze messages. Understanding the order in which messages are processed will help you determine where you should place filters and assign settings for messages you do or don’t want to receive. The Edge Transport Antispam filtering order is as follows:

  1. An email message is received from the Internet.

  2. The IP Block and Allow Lists are checked for a match to the sending IP address.

  3. The IP Block List Providers and IP Allow List Providers are checked for a match to the sending IP address.

  4. The Sender Filtering Agent checks the Blocked Senders list for a match.

  5. The SenderID Agent performs a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record lookup against the sending IP address.

  6. The Recipient Filtering Agent checks the Blocked Recipients list for a match. This is also where messages addressed to nonexistent recipients get identified.

  7. The Content Filtering Agent analyzes the content contained inside the message. Using Safelist Aggregation, the Content Filtering Agent also recognizes block and allow entries obtained from users’ Outlook clients.

  8. Attachments are analyzed by the Attachment Filter Agent. Edge transport rules run against the message.

  9. The message is either delivered to the Hub Transport server, rejected, deleted, sent to the spam quarantine mailbox, or placed in the user’s Junk E-Mail folder in the Outlook client.

Note

Messages can be identified for delivery or one of the blocking actions at any point in this process, depending on how the Edge Transport server agents have been configured.


Tip

Because the majority of unwanted email delivered today is spam, it is recommended to scan for spam messages before performing virus scanning. This reduces the load placed on the server when it performs virus scanning because virus scanning requires more processing power. This best practice assumes other antivirus mechanisms are in place throughout the network.



Installing Edge Transport Services on an Exchange Server

With a general concept of what the Edge Transport Services does, the next step is to install Edge Services on a system and begin configuring filters to test the results in your environment.

Testing Edge Services

Unlike some server functions where you can test functionality in a lab environment, such as performance, features, and functions, testing Edge Services filtering is a little harder to do in an isolated environment. You need to have incoming messages, including spam and good messages, to filter to determine the effective results of the filters you create.

Many organizations insert an Edge Services system into their network and set the filter settings low enough that no good messages are accidentally filtered. Then, the organization tunes up the filters to be more and more restrictive, effectively increasing the filter catch rate. While the filtering is expanded, quarantine areas are monitored to look for false positive messages ensuring that good messages are not being filtered unnecessarily. This can take an organization several weeks to work through the tuning; however, it provides tight control on the processing of filtered messages.

Another option that is frequently used is where an organization sets up a test network with a live connection to the Internet and creates a “honeypot.” A honeypot is an Internet-connected system that attracts messages, including spam and other content. The process involves establishing a domain on the Internet, setting up an email server to the domain, and then signing up to be on mailing lists with an email account from this test domain. This might include going to the websites of established businesses such as retail stores, mail-order houses, and so on and signing up to receive emails about their promotions and regular newsletters. To get less desirable content, you could sign up to receive notification of events on sites with questionable reputations such as triple-X sites. Do note that it could take several weeks before your honeypot attracts enough messages to make the filtering effective.

As a caution, make sure that if you sign up on sites for the purpose of attracting spam that you are connected to an Internet connection, that you clearly understand that the incoming content might be inappropriate for professional organizations, and that you expose the external IP address and incoming ports to questionable content.


Preparing an Exchange Server 2007 System

The Exchange Edge Transport server role also needs to be installed on a system running the Windows Server 2003 operating systems. The minimum prerequisite required to install Exchange Server 2007 is Windows Server 2003 with at least Service Pack 1 or Windows Server 2003 R2, Standard or Enterprise 64-bit Editions. Because this server will be connected to the Internet, hardening the server for security is extremely important; therefore, it is even more important that the server system has the latest service pack and patches installed on the system. 

Installing the Exchange Server 2007 Application on the Server

After the server has Windows Server 2003 installed and is properly patched and updated, you can begin the installation of Exchange Server 2007. To install Exchange Server using the interactive installation process of Exchange, use the following steps:

1.
Insert the Exchange Server 2007 CD or DVD (Standard or Enterprise).

2.
AutoRun should launch a splash screen with options for installing the prerequisites and application. (If AutoRun does not execute, select Start, Run. Then type [CDDrive]:\setup.exe and click OK.)

3.
On the Start page, click Install Microsoft Exchange.

Note

Before Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 can be installed, the Setup Installation Wizard will verify if the necessary prerequisites have been fulfilled. If the prerequisites have not been met, configure the prerequisites as recommended by the Configuration Wizard.

4.
Setup.exe copies the setup files locally to the server on which Exchange Server 2007 is being installed.

5.
In the Microsoft Exchange Server Installation Wizard dialog box, on the Introduction page, click Next.

6.
At the License Agreement page, click I Accept the Terms in the License Agreement, and click Next.

7.
At the Customer Feedback page, select whether to participate in the Customer Experience Improvement Program by sending feedback automatically to Microsoft, and then click Next.

8.
At the Installation Type page, select the type of Exchange Server 2007 installation, and then click Next. Because this will be an Edge Transport server, select Edge Transport for installation.

Note

If there is a need to change the installation folder, click Browse before proceeding and specify a path for the Exchange Server installation.

9.
On the Readiness Checks page, the Installation Wizard is verifying that the appropriate Exchange Server prerequisites have been installed. View the status to determine if the organization and server role prerequisite checks completed successfully, and then click Install to implement the first Exchange Server 2007 server in the organization.

Note

If there are any errors returned or prerequisites not met on the Readiness Checks page, it is necessary to address these issues and retry the setup.

10.
To complete the Exchange Server 2007 installation, on the Completion page, click Finish.

Note

The Verify Deployment and Secure the Edge Transport Server by Using the Security Configuration Wizard tasks should be completed after you have finished configuring the Edge Transport server filters and services.


To the right of the Finalize Deployment tab is the End-to-End Scenario tab, outlining the recommended tasks for end-to-end email routing scenarios along with other help topics. For example, the Configure the Spam Confidence Level (SCL) Junk E-Mail Folder Threshold link provides steps for setting the SCL thresholds for delivery to the end user’s Junk E-Mail folder in Outlook.

Understanding the Edge Transport Components in the Exchange Management Console

After the Exchange Server software has been installed on the server system that will become the Edge Transport server, launch the Exchange Management Console to begin the process of configuring filters and parameters. The Exchange Management Console can be launched by doing the following:

1.
Click Start, Program Files, Exchange Server 2007.

2.
Choose the Exchange Management Console program.

If the Edge Transport server role was selected during the Exchange Server 2007 setup process, the Edge Transport object and Toolbox are the only items that will be available in the console tree of the Exchange Management Console. Selecting the Edge Transport object in the console tree of the Exchange Management Console populates the work pane similar to what is shown in Figure 1 with the configurable options for the Edge Transport server.

Figure 1. View of the Exchange Management Console configuration options for the Edge Transport server.

Note

All filters, lists, and connector settings are enabled by default. As changes are made and applied, they will be in effect on the Edge Transport server. Careful attention to changes is necessary, especially in a live environment. It is recommended to design and configure the first Edge Transport server offline with the minimal configuration needed for email routing and moderate antispam filtering. In the future, the aggressiveness of the antispam filters can be increased and additional filters can be added or modified. This makes troubleshooting easier and helps ensure delivery of legitimate email, while retaining the benefit of blocking known spam or obvious malicious email.


Several tabs are displayed within the action pane, including the following:

  • Anti-Spam

  • Receive Connectors

  • Send Connectors

  • Transport Rules

The Anti-Spam tab is selected by default and includes all of the configurable filters, lists, and agents for effective spam filtering. Listed alphabetically, the following nine items are available under the Anti-Spam tab in the work pane:

  • Content Filtering

  • IP Allow List

  • IP Allow List Providers

  • IP Block List

  • IP Block List Providers

  • Recipient Filtering

  • Sender Filtering

  • Sender ID

  • Sender Reputation

To the right of the Anti-Spam tab is the Receive Connectors tab. The Receive Connectors tab is used to configure email routing for messages sent from internal users to recipients who reside outside of the organization. From here, you can either create a new Receive Connector or modify the default Receive Connector labeled “Default internal receive connector <SERVERNAME>.” This connector is enabled by default.

The tab to the right of the Receive Connectors tab is the Send Connectors tab. The Send Connectors tab is used to configure email routing for messages sent to internal users received from recipients who reside outside of the organization. From here, you can either create a new Send Connector or modify the default Send Connector labeled “Default internal send connector <SERVERNAME>.”

Note

The Send Connector does not need to be configured if the Edge Transport server is subscribed to the Exchange 2007 organization and is receiving data from Active Directory through EdgeSync. 


The last tab in the action pane of the Exchange Management Console for Edge Transport servers is the Transport Rules tab. The Transport Rules tab allows for the creation of rules that should be applied to email messages passing through the Edge Transport server. Different conditions to check in email messages can be set for a rule.

Take a few minutes to navigate through the different items in the Exchange Management Console to become familiar with the location and options for each Edge Transport server component and service.

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