Richard is the Principal Consultant and Founder of Arcible. A specialist in cloud solutions using Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, Enterprise Mobility, and more. Richard holds numerous Microsoft certifications for both cloud and on-premises technologies.

Away from Arcible, Richard loves being involved in Scouting and getting outdoors with nature. You can find Richard online on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Arcible and the SolarWinds Solorigate SUNBURST Threat

At Arcible, we take monitoring our services seriously and we take security seriously too. We use multiple products for the monitoring of our services; we consider security at all times and factor it into multiple layers of our operations. We’re releasing this article both as reassurance for our customers and for your information about Arcible and the Solorigate SUNBURST threat.

Arcible does not use the SolarWinds Orion product or any SolarWinds products to conduct our business either internally or externally with customers. Based on our current understanding and knowledge of the issues, Arcible does not believe that it is impacted by the SolarWinds threat, however, we continue to remain vigilant and review our security tools.

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Use OneDrive and SharePoint for Microsoft Teams Meeting Recordings

Microsoft Stream is an odd service. It’s fantastic in its own right but limitations built within it and it’s positioning as a Microsoft 365 outsider has always been problematic. For Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Stream as the location for meeting records brought its own set of challenges. With change approaching, let’s explore how this is moving to use OneDirve and SharePoint for Microsoft Teams meeting recordings.

Microsoft Stream sure has a time and place. We think, for example, that it’s a fantastic platform for sharing videos internally such as corporate messaging, training, and more. But that is also it’s Achilles Heel. It is limited to internal use only and you cannot share recordings [directly] from Microsoft Stream with external users.

When you participate in a meeting with people from multiple organisations and the meeting is recorded, that goes to Microsoft Stream for the organisation of the meeting organiser. If you’re outside that organisation, the only way you can access that is if someone downloads the recording video file and shares it with you by manually copying the file to their OneDrive or SharePoint or worse, emails you the file.

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Block Incoming Calls with Microsoft Teams

Last week, a customer contacted us about an issue they were receiving persistent, unsolicited calls in Microsoft Teams from a phone number. The customer needed a way to block incoming calls from that number and we figured that this was one worth sharing for all to see.

Block incoming calls features in Microsoft Teams

One of the more hidden features in Microsoft Teams is the ability to block incoming calls from a number or a range of numbers at the organisation level. This isn’t something that’s visible or available in the Microsoft Teams Admin Center and requires the use of PowerShell.

The documentation for doing this is neatly tucked away at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/block-inbound-calls.

The feature is enabled at the tenant-level by default but there aren’t any rules applied by default so simply creating some rules automatically starts working. Rules are created using number patterns and are declared as Regular Expressions (Regex).

Once active, rules simply cut the calls off at the other parties end immediately. Depending on the carrier or network used by the person making the incoming call they will either be simply disconnected or they will get a message stating that their call cannot be completed. In the UK, we found, for example, that making a call from a Three mobile phone resulted in the call being dropped with no warning whereas an O2 mobile phone gave the caller the voice prompt.

In our testing of the feature, we found that sometimes new rules take effect within a matter of minutes whereas sometimes they can take several hours. If you are working with the feature to block number(s) then take care firstly to ensure that your Regex patterns are valid using an online tester and also test with Microsoft Teams itself to be sure the rule works as intended.

Block incoming calls from a number

To set-up a block we need to create a new number pattern. This is done using the PowerShell command New-CsInboundBlockedNumberPattern. We give the rule a name and can optionally as a description too which we would recommend making later review and troubleshooting easier.

For the pattern itself, we use a Regex pattern match enclosed in quotes. The number needs to be defined in the E.164 telephone number format which means that it is prefaced with the plus symbol and the country code.

To block a UK mobile phone number, for example, the pattern would look like “^\+447123456789$” substituting the digits shown for those of the number you want to block.

In Regex, the ^ symbol means the start of the pattern string and the $ symbol means the end of the pattern. The backslash symbol before the plus character means to match the plus explicitly. Without this, it doesn’t work.

Block incoming calls for ranges

Being able to block incoming calls for a single number above is easy but what about if you want to block a range of numbers or perhaps all numbers from a particular country? This is where it gets more difficult because although Regex is extremely powerful, a mistype of the pattern could lead to unintentional matches being applied as we’ll show below.

Blocking a specific number range

The first example is where you want to block incoming calls for a range of numbers. Maybe you know that a telemarketing company that is spamming you with calls owns a range of numbers that end between 400 and 499 and you want to block that range only.

The pattern for this looks like “^+4412561234[0-9][0-9]$”. You’ll see the similarity between this at the previous single number pattern but here we say instead that we want to look for any number between 0 and 9 and we do it twice. This, therefore, has the effect of matching all numbers between 400 and 499.

Blocking a wildcard range

This second example is widely applicable to both blocking a large range of numbers such as a whole area code but also useful for blocking an entire country.

Before we get into this one, however, we just need to draw some attention to the implications of it. Because the example below uses a wildcard to identify a part of the number, it means that it’s potentially limitless in how it will match a number. You need to use wildcards with caution because if you set-up the pattern incorrectly, you could block incoming calls for more numbers than you want or expect.

Let’s start by assuming that you want to block all incoming calls from a particular area code, Basingstoke, in this example. The pattern for this would look like “^+441256\d*$”. As you see, the pattern is similar to those previously, however, we now add the \d* syntax which says match any number an unlimited number of times (Regex calls this greedy). With this set, any number that starts with the UK country code and the Basingstoke 01256 area code is blocked.

If we wanted to take this further, we could block an entire country by widening the scope. A rule that looks like “^+7\d*$” then, for example, would block any numbers starting with the Russia country code. This, however, is where it gets complicated.

Let’s say you created a rule with a pattern of “^+1\d*$” that will block all US and Canadian numbers, however, there are other countries which start their country code with 1 but have two or three digits. With the “^+1\d*$” pattern then, you’d also be blocking calls from countries including [but not limited to] Bahamas, Grenada, and Jamaica.

If you wanted to get super fancy, you can block multiple options in a single rule but this does of course add to the complexity and need for testing. A pattern of “^+(7|86)\d*$”, for example, would block incoming calls from both Russia and China.

Get more from Microsoft Teams

If you’ve found this useful and you want to find out how you can make the most out of Microsoft Teams; maybe you are using Microsoft Teams and want to think about how you secure it to both maximise your employee productivity but keep your employees and your business safe, why not contact us at Arcible to find out more.

Measuring Client Performance with Endpoint Analytics

Whether it be a laptop that takes so long to boot you can make a coffee and drink it or whether it’s a logon process that is so slow it’s time for the user to take their next break already, we’ve all seen and heard of performance issues before. As IT or as someone making financial decisions about hardware purchases for end-users, knowing that what you have or what you buy is good is important and for that you need data and we can use Endpoint Analytics in Microsoft Intune exactly for this purpose.

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Audio Conferencing with Microsoft Teams

As the usage of Microsoft Teams continues to grow across organisations around the world, our reliance on PCs and digital devices grow. Under normal circumstances, that’s all well and good but what if you’re internet goes down? Microsoft Teams isn’t all about the app and that’s why dial-in Audio Conferencing with Microsoft Teams is an important and often overlooked facet of the service.

Whether your Internet is down, you live in an area with poor mobile data coverage which means you can’t use a mobile device with the Teams app, or whether you need a screen break but still want to participate, Audio Conferencing could be your ticket.

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Microsoft Flight Simulator on a Work Device

If you are a developer planning on using the Microsoft Flight Simulator APIs or whether you run some kind of aviation playground, running Microsoft Flight Simulator is going to be a must which may mean being able to run Microsoft Flight Simulator on a work device.

I’m a big aviation fan and while I don’t fly myself (the PPL is a dream for one day), simulations are the closest I’ll come for now. For anyone interested, the picture on this post is of me flying the Cessna 172 over Farnborough Airport, not too far from us in Basingstoke.

When I tried to install Microsoft Flight Simulator on a PC that was domain-joined as my Arcible work device, I couldn’t even get it installed. To download and install Microsoft Flight Simulator through the Xbox Store requires the new Xbox app for Windows 10. For this app to work, you need to be able to sign-in with your Xbox Live account and that was failing.

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Replace Your File Server with Azure Files

We’ve previously talked about migrating files to SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. Even if you’ve done this, you will no doubt have a reason for a file server still. If cloud is your goal, why not replace your file server with Azure Files?

You get all the same capabilities as you do with an on-premises file server but the benefits of a Platform-as-a-Service solution that doesn’t require servers.

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Sharing Templates and Logos with an Organisation Asset Library

At Arcible, we love our brand and we want to make sure that it gets used correctly. We have standard document templates, high-quality versions of our corporate logo, and more. We want these to be used and used correctly. If there isn’t an organisation asset library that is easily accessible to users then they are more likely to go off-piste and make up their own. When you’ve worked hard to create and design a brand, you want to make sure that users stay on it.

With Microsoft 365, we have various ways that users can author content and access information so making sure that our asset library is accessible to them across all of these modalities is important. This is where the SharePoint Online organisation asset library feature comes in.

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Free Calling Plan for Microsoft 365 E5 Customers

Until this announcement, Microsoft 365 E5, the gives you everything plan for Microsoft 365 excluded one critical piece: a Calling Plan. The Microsoft 365 E5 license included the Phone System license and the Audio Conferencing license. This mean you had the licenses to use PSTN Audio Conferencing and to receive incoming calls but you would either need standalone Calling Plans for Microsoft 365 or pay Communication Credits for calls.

With the news of a Calling Plan for Microsoft 365 E5 customers, you will be able to, at no extra charge, get a 120-minute Domestic Calling Plan for each of your licensed E5 users.

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Microsoft 365 Enterprise Voice Plans and Pricing

People talk. Whether it be one-to-one or many-to-many, people talk. If you want to be able to give users the ability to make and take phone calls to non-Teams users then you need to enable voice elements of the service. Without these voice elements, Microsoft Teams users are only able to perform Teams-to-Teams calls. If you’ve come from a Skype for Business background, this is the same as the choice between PC-to-PC calling and Enterprise Voice. Microsoft 365 Enterprise Voice Plans are here to simplify things and hopefully make them cheaper too.

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