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My workplace uses an electronic calendar system tied to Microsoft Exchange. I have an Android phone and until now have been using an app called DigiCal to manage my calendar events, which was linked to a personal calendar account originally set up via Google. Now I need to switch to having my work appointments hosted on the Microsoft Exchange calendar so that my free/busy information is visible to colleagues.

I could add the Exchange account to my phone, but in doing so, Microsoft Exchange requires permission to remotely wipe my phone at any time, without warning, plus a whole load of other very questionable permissions that I'm not willing to sign up to.

I've had no trouble adding the Exchange account to my Mac, and (so far as I know), the same permissions weren't necessary as were required on my phone. I think that these security permissions are in place mostly around concerns with email, which I have no intention of using my phone for. All I want on the phone is the calendar.

I can share my calendar from Microsoft Exchange using an ICS link, but this would only give me read-only access on my phone. I'd like write access to the calendar from my phone as well.

One solution I can think of is to set up a second calendar, perhaps hosted on the Mac, which is an always-synchronised copy of the Microsoft Exchange calendar. That way, I could share the Mac copy with my phone, and make edits from there, and this would, in turn, auto-update my Microsoft Exchange calendar via the synchronised link on my Mac. However, I don't know how I could achieve this synchronisation..?

Any other suggestions are welcome, with the following constraints:

  1. I need read/write access on my phone
  2. I'm not willing to accept the huge list of permissions that actually connecting to the Exchange server on my phone would require
  3. The only info I actually need to share with my colleagues is busy/free information, so if there's some other workaround that gets this info into my Exchange calendar, I'd be happy with that and could continue to use my personal calendar for everything.

Update: Given the lack of any other suggestions, it looks as though the most likely solution to this problem will be to create a synchronised version of my Microsoft Exchange calendar that I can access from my phone. So, I'd have read-write access to an exact copy of my calendar, and this synchronised calendar - hosted somewhere online - would poll and update the Microsoft Exchange calendar. This way, there would be no need to directly link my phone to my Exchange account. However, I don't know how to go about setting up such a synchronised calendar, so I'm offering the bounty on this question for a solution that will presumably be based on this method (although I remain open to other solutions, of course).

  • Can you be specific about the permissions that you're being asked to grant? – Twisty Impersonator Feb 4 '18 at 16:36
  • @TwistyImpersonator, the permissions are: (1) Erase all data (2) Set password rules (3) Monitor screen-unlock attempts (4) Lock the screen (5) Set screen lock password expiry (6) Set storage encryption (7) Disable cameras (8) Disable some screen lock features. Basically, far more than seems necessary for access to a calendar. A hacker would potentially be able to erase all data on my phone with no notice. – CaptainProg Feb 4 '18 at 19:06
  • Thank you for the list. The only ones who can exercise these permissions are you and your Exchange Server administrator. In light of the fact you'll have company data on your device, the purpose for these permissions is to 1) Enforce security policy that makes unauthorized access to your phone difficult, and 2) Permit you (or the admin) to erase your phone in the event you lose it. I'm not saying you should grant the permissions, but you can make a better decision if you understand their purpose. If you have an Android phone, Google already has these permissions by default. – Twisty Impersonator Feb 4 '18 at 21:16
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You could use the Outlook app for Android - this way the permissions required are a little less daunting!

It will still require some, such as making sure your device is protected with a PIN and that device storage encryption is switched on, but rather than the entire phone being wiped in the event your administrator decides to press that button, only the Outlook app data will be wiped.

After evaluating the capabilities available in iOS and Android, Microsoft believes a device-level PIN delivers the best experience for customers, in terms of both convenience and security. An app-level PIN means users have to enter two different PINs in order to access email, which may not be desirable. Further, a device- level PIN means we can take advantage of features like native device encryption, TouchID on iOS, and Smart Lock on Android. Remote wipe is still implemented at the app level, which means users' personal applications and data will not be affected when Outlook is wiped.

Source

  • I can second this! I had to do the same thing for my school email account in college and was much happier with only giving them permission to wipe the exchange data. – Allen Howard Feb 19 '18 at 20:42
  • Thanks for this. I agree that this is much better than the original situation, so if no one is able to offer a solution that actually allows me to clone my Exchange calendar, then I will accept this answer. However, I would prefer not to have to use a PIN if at all possible. – CaptainProg Feb 20 '18 at 10:31
  • The other issue with this solution is it means that I cannot put my calendar events in a central widget on the home screen. Outlook only offers an 'agenda' view, which is far inferior to DigiCal's widget (plus, I now have to have separate pages to view my work and personal calendars). – CaptainProg Feb 20 '18 at 10:37
  • I have solved the issue regarding not being able to add my Google calendar to Outlook - this is a bug in the current Outlook app, that stops people who don't have a Gmail account associated with the account from using Outlook. However, I was able to create a Gmail account, link into Outlook, and then delete the Gmail service from my Google account - the 2-way link to Outlook persisted even after deleting my email account. – CaptainProg Mar 8 '18 at 9:30

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