This week I was helping a customer figure out why their Windows 8.1 with Outlook 2013 clients couldn’t connect to Exchange 2010 over Outlook Anywhere with Smartcard Authentication, but their Windows 7 with Outlook 2010 clients could. After a couple days of looking at network traces on firewalls, Process Explorer, and Process Monitor on several clients, we finally figured it out. Keep reading for more details on symptoms, cause, and resolution.
Outlook Profile creation either fails after a single PIN prompt with a message stating that encrypted communication with the Exchange Server could not be established, or profile creation never progresses past the first stage with repeated PIN prompts.
Additionally, using the “Test E-mail AutoConfiguration” feature in Outlook (CTRL + Right Click on the Outlook icon in the system tray) returns error 0x80090014 on the log tab for Autodiscover. (Note: If no profiles exist on the problem computer, you can open Outlook without creating a profile to access this functionality).
0x80090014 = NTE_BAD_PROV_TYPE, “Invalid provider type specified”. This occurs when an application tries to use a Cryptographic Service Provider (CSP) that Windows isn’t aware of. This may be the result of the version of Windows not supporting a CSP, or Smartcard Middleware not properly installing a 3rd Party CSP required by the certificate on the Smartcard.
Verify that the version of Windows you are running supports the CSP used by the certificate on your Smartcard, and that any 3rd Party CSPs/Middleware required by your certificate are installed and properly functioning.
You can see the available CSPs by viewing the following Registry key:
In this case, the customer had 3rd Party (ActivIdentity’s ActivClient) Middleware installed. We found that version 7.x was installed on the Windows 8.1/Outlook 2013 clients that couldn’t connect, and version 6.2.9200 on the Windows 7/Outlook 2010 clients that were able to connect.
We found that the non-functioning clients were missing the following registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Cryptography\Defaults\Provider\ActivClient Cryptographic Service Provider
They were also missing a DLL identified by one of the values under that key:
Without that registry key and DLL, Windows couldn’t find the CSP from the certificate we selected on our Smartcard when prompted, which is why we saw the 0x80090014 error.
Updating to the latest 7.x version we could find did not resolve this issue. We had to uninstall 7.x and install 6.2.9200 (WARNING! This requires an account with local administrative privileges that is allowed to logon with username and password! After the required reboot to uninstall the 7.x version, you will not be able to logon with a Smartcard. You must install the working 6.2.9200 version in order to use Smartcard logon again.)
After downgrading the Middleware to a version that included the necessary registry entries and DLL file, the Windows 8.1 w/ Outlook 2013 clients were able to successfully connect to Exchange over Outlook Anywhere with Smartcard Authentication.
Josh M. Bryant is currently a Director of Technical Product Management at Tanium where he builds products that help customers overcome the challenges of managing very large scale computing environments. Prior to joining Tanium, he was a Premier Field Engineer at Microsoft specializing in Microsoft Exchange Server, and then later a Cybersecurity Architect specializing in Compromise Recovery.