Device Guard management with Configuration Manager

Applies to: System Center Configuration Manager (Current Branch)

Introduction

Device Guard is a group of Windows 10 features that are designed to protect PCs against malware and other untrusted software. It prevents malicious code from running by ensuring that only approved code, that you know, can be run.

Device Guard encompasses both software and hardware-based security functionality. Windows Defender Application Control is a software-based security layer that enforces an explicit list of software that is allowed to run on a PC. On its own, Application Control does not have any hardware or firmware prerequisites. Application Control policies deployed with Configuration Manager enable a policy on PCs in targeted collections that meet the minimum Windows version and SKU requirements outlined in this article. Optionally, hypervisor-based protection of Application Control policies deployed through Configuration Manager can be enabled through Group Policy on capable hardware.

To learn more about Device Guard, read the Device Guard deployment guide.

Note

Beginning with Windows 10, version 1709, configurable code integrity policies are known as Windows Defender Application Control.

Using Device Guard with Configuration Manager

You can use Configuration Manager to deploy a Windows Defender Application Control policy. This policy lets you configure the mode in which Device Guard runs on PCs in a collection.

You can configure one of the following modes:

  1. Enforcement enabled - Only trusted executables are allowed to run.
  2. Audit only - Allow all executables to run, but log untrusted executables that run in the local client event log.

Tip

In this version of Configuration Manager, Device Guard is a pre-release feature. To enable it, see Pre-release features in System Center Configuration Manager.

What can run when you deploy a Windows Defender Application Control policy?

Windows Device Guard lets you strongly control what can run on PCs you manage. This feature can be useful for PCs in high-security departments, where it's vital that unwanted software cannot run.

When you deploy a policy, typically, the following executables can run:

  • Windows operating system components
  • Hardware Dev Center drivers (that have Windows Hardware Quality Labs signatures)
  • Windows Store apps
  • The Configuration Manager client
  • All software deployed through Configuration Manager that PCs install after the Windows Defender Application Control policy is processed.
  • Updates to windows components from:
    • Windows Update
    • Windows Update for Business
    • Windows Server Update Services
    • Configuration Manager
    • Optionally, software with a good reputation as determined by the Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph (ISG). The ISG includes Windows Defender SmartScreen and other Microsoft services. The device must be running Windows Defender SmartScreen and Windows 10 version 1709 or later for this software to be trusted.

Important

These items do not include any software that is not built-into Windows that automatically updates from the internet or third-party software updates whether they are installed via any of the update mechanisms mentioned previously, or from the internet. Only software changes that are deployed though the Configuration Manager client can run.

Before you start

Before you configure or deploy Windows Defender Application Control policies, read the following information:

  • Device Guard management is a pre-release feature for Configuration Manager, and is subject to change.
  • To use Device Guard with Configuration Manager, PCs you manage must be running the Windows 10 Enterprise version 1703, or later.
  • Once a policy is successfully processed on a client PC, Configuration Manager is configured as a Managed Installer on that client. Software deployed through it, after the policy processes, is automatically trusted. Software installed by Configuration Manager before the Windows Defender Application Control policy processes is not automatically trusted.
  • Client PCs must have connectivity to their Domain Controller in order for a Windows Defender Application Control policy to be processed successfully.
  • The default compliance evaluation schedule for Application Control policies, configurable during deployment, is every one day. If issues in policy processing are observed, it may be beneficial to configure the compliance evaluation schedule to be shorter, for example every hour. This schedule dictates how often clients reattempt to process a Windows Defender Application Control policy if a failure occurs.
  • Regardless of the enforcement mode you select, when you deploy a Windows Defender Application Control policy, client PCs cannot run HTML applications with the extension .hta.

How to create a Windows Defender Application Control policy

  1. In the Configuration Manager console, click Assets and Compliance.
  2. In the Assets and Compliance workspace, expand Endpoint Protection, and then click Windows Defender Application Control.
  3. On the Home tab, in the Create group, click Create Application Control policy.
  4. On the General page of the Create Application Control policy Wizard, specify the following settings:
    • Name - Enter a unique name for this Windows Defender Application Control policy.
    • Description - Optionally, enter a description for the policy that helps you identify it in the Configuration Manager console.
    • Enforce a restart of devices so that this policy can be enforced for all processes - After the policy is processed on a client PC, a restart is scheduled on the client according to the Client Settings for Computer Restart.
      • Devices running Windows 10 version 1703 or earlier will always be automatically restarted.
      • Starting with Windows 10 version 1709, applications currently running on the device will not have the new Application Control policy applied to them until after a restart. However, applications launched after the policy applies will honor the new Application Control policy.
    • Enforcement Mode - Choose one of the following enforcement methods for Device Guard on the client PC.
      • Enforcement Enabled - Only allow trusted executables are allowed to run.
      • Audit Only - Allow all executables to run, but log untrusted executables that run in the local client event log.
  5. On the Inclusions tab of the Create Application Control policy Wizard, chose if you want to Authorize software that is trusted by the Intelligent Security Graph.
  6. Click Add if you want to add trust for specific files or folders on PCs. In the Add Trusted File or Folder dialog box, you can specify a local file or a folder path to trust. You can also specify a file or folder path on a remote device on which you have permission to connect. When you add trust for specific files or folders in a Windows Defender Application Control policy, you can:
    • Overcome issues with managed installer behaviors
    • Trust line-of-business apps that cannot be deployed with Configuration Manager
    • Trust apps that are included in an operating system deployment image.
  7. Click Next, to complete the wizard.

Important

The inclusion of trusted files or folders is only supported on client PCs running version 1706 or later of the Configuration Manager client. If any inclusion rules are included in a Windows Defender Application Control policy and the policy is then deployed to a client PC running an earlier version on the Configuration Manager client, the policy will fail to be applied. Upgrading these older clients will resolve this issue. Policies that do not include any inclusion rules may still be applied on older versions of the Configuration Manager client.

How to deploy a Windows Defender Application Control policy

  1. In the Configuration Manager console, click Assets and Compliance.
  2. In the Assets and Compliance workspace, expand Endpoint Protection, and then click Windows Defender Application Control.
  3. From the list of policies, select the one you want to deploy, and then, on the Home tab, in the Deployment group, click Deploy Application Control Policy.
  4. In the Deploy Application Control policy dialog box, select the collection to which you want to deploy the policy. Then, configure a schedule for when clients evaluate the policy. Finally, select whether the client can evaluate the policy outside of any configured maintenance windows.
  5. When you are finished, click OK to deploy the policy.

How to monitor a Windows Defender Application Control policy

Use the information in the Monitor compliance settings article to help you monitor that the deployed policy has been applied to all PCs correctly.

To monitor the processing of a Windows Defender Application Control policy, use the following log file on client PCs:

%WINDIR%\CCM\Logs\DeviceGuardHandler.log

To verify the specific software being blocked or audited, see the following local client event logs:

  1. For blocking and auditing of executable files, use Applications and Services Logs > Microsoft > Windows > Code Integrity > Operational.
  2. For blocking and auditing of Windows Installer and script files, use Applications and Services Logs > Microsoft > Windows > AppLocker > MSI and Script.

Security and privacy information for Device Guard

  • In this pre-release version, do not deploy Windows Defender Application Control policies with the enforcement mode Audit Only in a production environment. This mode is intended to help you test the capability in a lab setting only.
  • Devices that have a policy deployed to them in Audit Only or Enforcement Enabled mode that have not been restarted to enforce the policy, are vulnerable to untrusted software being installed. In this situation, the software might continue to be allowed to run even if the device restarts, or receives a policy in Enforcement Enabled mode.
  • To ensure that the Windows Defender Application Control policy is effective, prepare the device in a lab environment. Then, deploy the Enforcement Enabled policy, and finally, restart the device before you give the device to an end user.
  • Do not deploy a policy with Enforcement Enabled, and then later deploy a policy with Audit Only to the same device. This configuration might result in untrusted software being allowed to run.
  • When you use Configuration Manager to enable Windows Defender Application Control on client PCs, the policy does not prevent users with local administrator rights from circumventing the Application Control policies or otherwise executing untrusted software.
  • The only way to prevent users with local administrator rights from disabling Application Control is to deploy a signed binary policy. This deployment is possible through Group Policy but not currently supported in Configuration Manager.
  • Setting up Configuration Manager as a Managed Installer on client PCs uses AppLocker policy. AppLocker is only used to identify Managed Installers and all enforcement happens with Application.