Office 365 Trial

For anyone wanting to test Office 365 and associated technologies, you can easily spin up a free trial, without a credit card for evaluating and seeing what 365 has to offer.

To get started, head over to and create a free account. In this example, i’m using the address

After you have your account, browse to the following link which is the standing offer for a 30 day free trial of Office 365 E3 that includes 25 licenses.

Go through the wizard and fill in your details. You’ll need a legitimate phone number to verify you are a person and not a bot. You’ll create your business identity and proceed to create an admin login.

As you can see, my trial has been created and a confirmation email sent to my test email address.

Now, you can jump over to and login with your trial admin account. From here, jump into licenses and you’ll see your 30 days of Office 365 E3, which includes fully routable mail to your <domain> address.

From time to time, Microsoft offer other trials that you can add to your existing subscription. For example, at the moment, you can add PowerBI Premium or Defender for Office 365 trials. From the admin portal, browse to Billing –> Purchase Services –> Search –> ‘Trial’ and see what is available.

Now that you have your trial, you can test Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Yammer, Teams and OneDrive – not to mention Azure AD and all the identity features that come along with it.

Good luck with your 365 trial!

Thanks for reading -Jesse

TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384 Cipher with Server 2012 R2

I was recently working on an issue where a monitoring system that runs on top of Server 2012 R2 was not able to establish a TLS handshake with web servers to check their availability. After some investigation and a ticket with Microsoft, it was determined that SCHANNEL on Server 2012 R2 does not support modern ciphers (a few posts on Stack Overflow confirms the same thing).

I find it crazy that Microsoft don’t support modern ciphers on server operating systems that are still in support (albeit extended support in this case). Surely as web servers start to upgrade their cipher suites, this is going to break stuff and everyone will be forced to upgrade to newer Server OS’s whether they are ready to or not.

The troubleshooting process with Microsoft involved the following steps:

Make sure that the TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384 cipher exists in the following registry locations:


As well as this, the Microsoft support engineer advised to enable strong crypto in dot net framework by configuring the following key:


Lastly, to make sure that a TLS 1.2 connection was established, the following registry keys needed to be set to enforce TLS 1.2 and disable older SSL and TLS protocols.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\Multi-Protocol Unified Hello]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\Multi-Protocol Unified Hello\Client]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\Multi-Protocol Unified Hello\Server]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\PCT 1.0]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\PCT 1.0\Client]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\PCT 1.0\Server]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\SSL 2.0]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\SSL 2.0\Client]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\SSL 2.0\Server]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\SSL 3.0]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\SSL 3.0\Client]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\SSL 3.0\Server]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.0]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.0\Client]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.0\Server]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.1]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.1\Client]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.1\Server]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.2]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.2\Client]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.2\Server]

Once these registry keys were set and after a reboot, we could do some testing. The quickest way to determine what was happening was to run a packet capture and use Internet Explorer to browse to the site that was attempting to handshake using the TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384 cipher. Internet Explorer uses SCHANNEL for establishing TLS connections, so this is an easier test than mucking about with your app that also uses SCHANNEL. For the capture, I wrote a quick PowerShell script to use the built in netsh tool to capture packets and convert them to .pcapng for easy analysis using Wireshark.

# NetworkCapture.ps1

function startCapture {
    param ()
netsh trace start capture=yes report=disabled

function stopCapture {
    param ()
netsh trace stop

function convertCapture {
    param ()
# Setup function variables
$ETLToolZipPath = "$env:USERPROFILE\Downloads\"
$CapturePath = "$env:LOCALAPPDATA\Temp\NetTraces\NetTrace.etl"
$PCAPNGPath = "$env:LOCALAPPDATA\Temp\NetTraces\$(Get-Date -Format dd-MM-yyy-hhmm)_NetTrace.pcapng"
$ETLToolPath = "$env:USERPROFILE\Downloads\etl2pcapng\x64\"    

if ($ETLToolPath) {
    Write-Host "Tool already exists, skipping..."
else {
# Get Windows ETL to PCAPNG tool
Invoke-WebRequest -Uri -OutFile $ETLToolZipPath -UseBasicParsing 

# Unzip the archive
Expand-Archive -Path $ETLToolZipPath -DestinationPath $env:USERPROFILE\Downloads\ -Force

# Run conversion
Set-Location -Path $ETLToolPath
.\etl2pcapng.exe $CapturePath $PCAPNGPath

Write-Output -InputObject "Capture has been converted and can be found here: $PCAPNGPath"

Here is the result from running the three functions listed in the above script. In between the startCapture and stopCapture functions, using Internet Explorer, I browsed to the site using the TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384 cipher.

PS C:\> startCapture
Trace configuration:
Status:             Running
Trace File:         C:\Users\lab\AppData\Local\Temp\NetTraces\NetTrace.etl
Append:             Off
Circular:           On
Max Size:           250 MB
Report:             Disabled

PS C:\> stopCapture
Merging traces ... done
File location = C:\Users\lab\AppData\Local\Temp\NetTraces\NetTrace.etl
Tracing session was successfully stopped.

PS C:\> convertCapture
Tool already exists, skipping...
IF: medium=eth  ID=0    IfIndex=11
IF: medium=eth  ID=1    IfIndex=14
Converted 208 frames
Capture has been converted and can be found here: C:\Users\lab\AppData\Local\Temp\NetTraces\01-02-2021-0856_NetTrace.pcapng

The results of the trace confirmed that the TLS 1.2 hello was not successfully negotiated:

From here we see the client reaches out with the TLSv1.2 hello, but further down the server returns with “Handshake Failure”.

In the Windows system event log, we also see the following SCHANNEL error:

At this point I did some additional testing using newer operating systems. I already knew that the sites in question worked using Windows 10 but I wanted to confirm with Server 2016 and Sever 2019. As expected, SCHANNEL supports the TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384 cipher in newer versions of Windows and Internet Explorer is able to connect. The odd thing with Internet Explorer is that it throws the following error on Server 2012 R2, which is a bit misleading as RC4 is not in use or enabled:

This page can’t be displayed

Turn on TLS 1.0, TLS 1.1, and TLS 1.2 in Advanced settings and try connecting to again. If this error persists, it is possible that this site uses an unsupported protocol or cipher suite such as RC4 (link for the details), which is not considered secure. Please contact your site administrator.

Another thing that proves the issue is with SCHANNEL is that Chromium on Server 2012 R2 works and you can access TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384 negotiated sites fine. This is because Chromium does not use SCHANNEL for establishing TLS.

Ultimately, after collecting some more logs and a bit of back and forward on email, Microsoft came back stating that TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384 is not supported on Windows Server 2012 R2 and that newer ciphers can be considered a windows ‘feature’ that has been introduced on newer operating systems only. They also provided this article as a reference.

If you come across this issue and your app uses SCHANNEL to establish TLS connections, you may be in for an OS upgrade.

Thanks for reading. -Jesse

WordPress personal plan

I’ve been mucking around with WordPress for a couple weeks now and I’m happy with it as a blogging platform so I decided to pay the $5 bucks a month and register a domain. Now the horrible WordPress banner is gone and I feel like I can advertise the blog a bit more. Thanks for reading -Jesse

Linux bash bang

I was going to write a blog about this, then I came across a Red Hat blog that has all this laid out nice. No point re-inventing the wheel. A while back, I was on the phone with a vendor at work, and the admin controlling the system I was facilitating access to typed !105 and I was like… OK, what just happened, then I realised that '!' has all sorts of cool functionality in regards to bash history. When you review your bash history by typing 'history' , you will notice each entry in your command history has a line number. To repeat a command from your history, you just type !<line #> and the command is repeated. I now use this all the time, especially for complex commands that take some work to get perfect, just bang# it and you’re good. Somehow it’s quite satisfying. Check out the other cool things you can do with ! in man history or by checking out the Red Hat blog above.

-Jesse banner

OK – so obviously I have the banner on my blog since it’s a free plan and I’m not paying for the service (yet). I thought I’d try out blogging before I commit to the (very reasonable) $5 bucks a month… If you’re reading this then I guess you’re annoyed like I am – anyway, maybe I’ll pay at some point. 🙂

First post

First post, so it’s not IT related. Short and sweet. Started a blog really so that I can document all the random stuff that I come across at work, as well as maybe feed something back to the community that I get so much from. Hope you enjoy reading! – Jesse