Using the Exchange control panel feature/tool of MS Exchange 2010, you can search all the emails belonging to any domain user and read them. Allowing an Exchange administrator to read the emails of any user in the Exchange environment is OK?

This is a built-in feature of MS Exchange 2010. Can a security admin disable this feature?

  • could be a duplicate of serverfault.com/q/650641/118677 Jan 5, 2016 at 14:40
  • The question of whether Exchange can be configured a certain way is a question for serverfault. As for the question "is this OK?", you have to define that further. What do you mean by OK?
    – schroeder
    Jan 5, 2016 at 15:45
  • I mean, is it an acceptable feature from security perspective?
    – Ijaz Ahmad
    Jan 5, 2016 at 15:49
  • It is used to be acceptable, cause administrators of any system are expected to have administrator permissions. If you administrate the system, you need to be able to configure/change/control everything. Even if you do not have rights to read mails, but you are admin, you can assign these rights to yourself. Did you go through the answers on ServerFault question I pointed on? Jan 5, 2016 at 15:52
  • @IjazKhan It's acceptable if your organization deems it to be acceptable. If it is required so that the Admins can do their job, then it's fine.
    – schroeder
    Jan 5, 2016 at 16:18

1 Answer 1


I know you can do that in 2003 and prior also. But it will be rather hard to disable that capability, because Administrator is just that..

  1. it has been that way since forever. But not just exchange, postfix does the same thing. Before this, email was in plain text and security came as an after thought.
  2. A conversation usually starts up unencrypted and a key exchange happens of some sort as a result of it, and the server is there to handle just that, store conversations.
  3. Sysadmins usually secure channels to and from server, but not the messages themselves. Why should they? If I can encrypt your messages, I also can decrypt them, and if I secure my server for unauthorized access, encrypting the message store begs for more work when a problem occurs.
  4. On servers, usually encryption is done on the whole medium rather than on a file by file manner because it breaks our tools. Exchange is no different.
  5. It makes for easier compliance with LEO and the VPs of the company when you get canned.
  6. Recovery in the odd case the server goes wack (cough windows updates.. cough) is also easier.
  7. It makes spam filtering work.. and also advertisments.
  8. It makes it possible to monitor mailboxes or assign my account to take over your mail as you when you are gone.

All in all if you want privacy, agree with end points on encryption ( such as gpg ) and encrypt the content before sending it out, because Exchange is an enterprise tool and protecting the user's confidentiality wasn't on their mindset when they built it. You're at the discretion of your sysadmins.

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