Exchange Server password expiry handling on iPad/iOS 5

31 12 2011

Overnight, the password for my Exchange account expired, as would be expected in line with my security policy.

Unfortunately, it would appear there is a bug in iOS 5’s handling of this situation. My iPad (running iOS 5.0.1) had many, many “incorrect password” prompts when I picked it up to use it this morning. There were so many that I was about to concede that the iPad as unusable until I found a computer to change my password on, as the password was yet to be set to a new value.

I would usually change my password directly from the iPad, by logging in to OWA, where I have enabled the ability to change a password when it has expired.

After some time of pressing “Cancel”, I was finally relinquished from the grasp of this prompt and was able to proceed to use the iPad normally.

It would appear to me that the number of prompts would be equal to either the number of Fetch attempts since the password expired and/or the number of occasions the iPad has tried to open a session for push delivery from the server. Of course, the iPad would have failed on every occasion, and it would appear it is being extremely verbose by displaying each and every failure.

Either way, the code should detect an incorrect password and show the “Incorrect Password” pop-up once only, as was the behaviour I experienced on iOS 4. If I choose to dismiss that message, I should not be repeatedly prompted with the same alert. As a tech savvy user, I repeatedly hit “Cancel”, but many of the users I deals with on a daily basis would try this a couple of times and then assume their iPad was unusable and not continue for fear of “breaking” something.

It seems I am not the first to come across this issue, but I will add my voice to those who hope this issue is resolved in a future iOS release.

For Exchange and AD admins, be aware this issue could potentially lead to lockout situations, dependent on your security policies.