Plan attack surface reduction rules deployment

Applies to:

Before you test or enable attack surface reduction rules, you should plan your deployment. Careful planning helps you test your attack surface reduction rules deployment and get ahead of any rule exceptions. When planning to test attack surface reduction rules, make sure you start with the right business unit. Start with a small group of people in a specific business unit. You can identify some champions within a particular business unit who can provide feedback to help tune your implementation.

The attack surface reduction rules planning steps.


While you're going through the process of planning, auditing, and enable attack surface reduction rules, it's recommended that you enable the following three standard protection rules. See Attack surface reduction rules by type for important details about the two types of attack surface reduction rules.

You can typically enable the standard protection rules with minimal noticeable impact to the end user. For an easy method to enable the standard protection rules, see: Simplified standard protection option.

Start your ASR rules deployment with the right business unit

How you select the business unit to roll out your attack surface reduction rules deployment depends on factors such as:

  • Size of business unit
  • Availability of attack surface reduction rules champions
  • Distribution and usage of:
    • Software
    • Shared folders
    • Use of scripts
    • Office macros
    • Other entities affected by attack surface reduction rules

Depending on your business needs, you might decide to include multiple business units to get a broad sampling of software, shared folders, scripts, macros, etc. You might decide to limit the scope of your first attack surface reduction rules rollout to a single business unit. Then, repeat the entire attack surface reduction rules rollout process to your other business units, one-at-a-time.

Identify ASR rules champions

Attack surface reduction rules champions are members in your organization who can help with your initial attack surface reduction rules rollout during the preliminary testing and implementation phases. Your champions are typically employees who are more technically adept, and who aren't derailed by intermittent work-flow outages. The champions' involvement continues throughout the broader expansion of attack surface reduction rules deployment to your organization. Your attack surface reduction rules champions are first to experience each level of the attack surface reduction rules rollout.

It's important to provide a feedback and response channel for your attack surface reduction rules champions to alert you to attack surface reduction rules-related work disruptions and receive attack surface reduction rules-rollout related communications.

Get inventory of line-of-business apps and understand the business unit processes

Having a full understanding of the applications and per-business-unit processes that are used across your organization is critical to a successful attack surface reduction rules deployment. Additionally, it's imperative that you understand how those apps are used within the various business units in your organization. To start, you should get an inventory of the apps that are approved for use across the breadth of the organization. You can use tools such as the Microsoft 365 Apps admin center to help inventory software applications. See: Overview of inventory in the Microsoft 365 Apps admin center.

Define reporting and response ASR rules team roles and responsibilities

Clearly articulating roles and responsibilities of persons responsible for monitoring and communicating attack surface reduction rules status and activity is a core activity of attack surface reduction maintenance. Therefore, it's important to determine:

  • The person or team responsible for gathering reports
  • How and with whom reports are shared
  • How escalation is addressed for newly identified threats or unwanted blockages caused by attack surface reduction rules

Typical roles and responsibilities include:

  • IT admins: Implement attack surface reduction rules, manage exclusions. Work with different business units on apps and processes. Assembling and sharing reports to stakeholders
  • Certified security operations center (CSOC) analyst: Responsible for investigating high-priority, blocked processes, to determine whether the threat is valid or not
  • Chief information security officer (CISO): Responsible for the overall security posture and health of the organization

ASR rules ring deployment

For large enterprises, Microsoft recommends deploying attack surface reduction rules in "rings." Rings are groups of devices that are visually represented as concentric circles that radiate outward like nonoverlapping tree rings. When the innermost ring is successfully deployed, you can transition to the next ring into the testing phase. Thorough assessment of your business units, attack surface reduction rules champions, apps, and processes is imperative to defining your rings. In most cases, your organization has deployment rings for phased rollouts of Windows updates. You can use your existing ring design to implement attack surface reduction rules. See: Create a deployment plan for Windows

Attack surface reduction rules deployment overview

Test attack surface reduction rules

Enable attack surface reduction rules

Operationalize attack surface reduction rules

Attack surface reduction rules reference


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