Manage Microsoft Defender for Endpoint on devices with Microsoft Endpoint Manager

With Microsoft Defender for Endpoint (MDE), you can now deploy security configurations from Microsoft Endpoint Manager directly to your onboarded devices without requiring a full Microsoft Endpoint Manager device enrollment. This capability is known as Security Management for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. With this capability, devices that aren’t managed by a Microsoft Endpoint Manager service can receive security configurations for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint directly from Endpoint Manager.

When devices are managed through this capability:

  • You use the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center to configure endpoint security policies for MDE and assign those policies to Azure AD groups
  • Devices get the policies based on their Azure Active Directory device object. A device that isn’t already present in Azure Active Directory is joined as part of this solution
  • When a device receives a policy, the Defender for Endpoint components on the device enforce the policy and report on the devices status. The device's status is available in the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center

This scenario extends the Microsoft Endpoint Manager Endpoint Security surface to devices that aren't capable of enrolling in Endpoint Manager. When a device is managed by Endpoint Manager (enrolled to Intune) the device won't process policies for Security Management for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. Instead, use Intune to deploy policy for Defender for Endpoint to your devices.

Conceptual diagram of the MDE-Attach solution.

Prerequisites

Review the following sections for requirements for the Security Management for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Scenario.

Environment

When a device onboards to Microsoft Defender for Endpoint:

  • The device is surveyed for an existing Endpoint Manager presence, which is a mobile device management (MDM) enrollment to Intune
  • Devices without an Endpoint Manager presence enable the Security Management feature
  • A trust is created with Azure Active Directory if one doesn't already exist
  • Azure Active Directory trust is used to communicate with Endpoint Manager (Intune) and retrieve policies
  • Policy retrieve from Endpoint Manager is enforced on the device by Microsoft Defender for Endpoint

Active Directory requirements

When a device that is domain joined creates a trust with Azure Active Directory, this scenario is referred to as a Hybrid Azure Active Directory Join scenario. The Security Management for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint fully supports this scenario with the following requirements:

  • Azure Active Directory Connect (AAD Connect) must be synchronized to the tenant that is used from Microsoft Defender for Endpoint
  • Hybrid Azure Active Directory Join must be configured in your environment (either through Federation or AAD Connect Sync)
  • AAD Connect Sync must include the device objects in scope for synchronization with Azure Active Directory (when needed for join)
  • AAD Connect rules for sync must be modified for Server 2012 R2 (when support for Server 2012 R2 is needed)
  • All devices must register in the Azure Active Directory of the tenant that hosts Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. Cross-tenant scenarios are not supported.

Connectivity requirements

Devices must have access to the following endpoints:

  • enterpriseregistration.windows.net - For Azure AD registration.
  • login.microsoftonline.com - For Azure AD registration.
  • *.dm.microsoft.com - The use of a wildcard supports the cloud-service endpoints that are used for enrollment, check-in, and reporting, and which can change as the service scales.

Note

If your organization users Secure Socket Layer (SSL) inspection, the endpoints should be excluded from inspection.

Supported platforms

Policies for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint security management are supported for the following device platforms:

Security management for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint will not work on non-persistent desktops, like Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) clients or Windows Virtual Desktops (WVD).

Licensing and subscriptions

To use security management for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, you need:

  • A subscription that grants licenses for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, like Microsoft 365, or a standalone license for only Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. A subscription that grants Microsoft Defender for Endpoint licenses also grants your tenant access to the Endpoint security node of the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center.

    Note

    Exception: If you have access to Microsoft Defender for Endpoint only through Microsoft Defender for servers (part of Microsoft Defender for Cloud, formerly Azure Security Center), the Security Management for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint functionality is not available. You will need to have at least one Microsoft Defender for Endpoint (user) subscription license active.

    The Endpoint security node is where you'll configure and deploy policies to manage Microsoft Defender for Endpoint for your devices and monitor device status.

    For current information about options, see Minimum requirements for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint.

Architecture

The following diagram is a conceptual representation of the Microsoft Defender for Endpoint security configuration management solution.

Conceptual representation of the Microsoft Defender for Endpoint security configuration management solution

  1. Devices onboard to Microsoft Defender for Endpoint.
  2. A trust is established between each device and Azure AD. When a device has an existing trust, that is used. When devices haven't registered, a new trust is created.
  3. Devices use their Azure AD Identity to communicate with Endpoint Manager. This identity enables Microsoft Endpoint Manager to distribute policies that are targeted to the devices when they check in.
  4. Defender for Endpoint reports the status of the policy back to Endpoint Manager.

Which solution should I use?

Microsoft Endpoint Manager includes several methods and policy types to manage the configuration of Defender for Endpoint on devices.

When your device protection needs extend beyond managing Defender for Endpoint, see Device protection overview to learn about additional capabilities provided by Microsoft Endpoint Manager to help protect devices, including device compliance, managed apps, app protection policies, and integration with third-party compliance and mobile threat defense partners.

The following table can help you understand which policies that can configure MDE settings are supported by devices that are managed by the different scenarios. When you deploy a policy that’s supported for both MDE security configuration and Microsoft Endpoint Manager, a single instance of that policy can be processed by devices that run MDE only and devices that are managed by either Intune or Configuration Manager.

Microsoft Endpoint Manager Workload Policy MDE Security configuration Microsoft Endpoint Manager
Endpoint security Antivirus Antivirus Supported Supported
Antivirus Antivirus Exclusions Supported Supported
Antivirus Windows Security Experience Supported
Disk Encryption All Supported
Firewall Firewall Supported Supported
Firewall Firewall Rules Supported Supported
Endpoint detection and response Endpoint detection and response Supported Supported
Attack surface reduction All Supported
Account Protection All Supported
Device Compliance All Supported
Conditional Access All Supported
Security baselines All Supported

Endpoint security policies are discrete groups of settings intended for use by security admins who focus on protecting devices in your organization.

  • Antivirus policies manage the security configurations found in Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. See antivirus policy for endpoint security.
  • Attack surface reduction policies focus on minimizing the places where your organization is vulnerable to cyberthreats and attacks. For more information, see Overview of attack surface reduction in the Windows Threat protection documentation, and attack surface reduction policy for endpoint security.
  • Endpoint detection and response (EDR) policies manage the Defender for Endpoint capabilities that provide advanced attack detections that are near real-time and actionable. Based on EDR configurations, security analysts can prioritize alerts effectively, gain visibility into the full scope of a breach, and take response actions to remediate threats. See endpoint detection and response policy for endpoint security.
  • Firewall policies focus on the Defender firewall on your devices. See firewall policy for endpoint security.
  • Firewall Rules configure granular rules for Firewalls, including specific ports, protocols, applications, and networks. See firewall policy for endpoint security.
  • Security baselines include preconfigured security settings that define the Microsoft recommended security posture for different products like Defender for Endpoint, Edge, or Windows. The default recommendations are from the relevant product teams and enable you to quickly deploy that recommended secure configuration to devices. While settings are preconfigured in each baseline, you can create customized instances of them to establish your organization’s security expectations. See security baselines for Intune.

Configure your tenant to support Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Security Configuration Management

To support Microsoft Defender for Endpoint security configuration management through the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center, you must enable communication between them from within each console.

  1. Sign in to Microsoft 365 Defender portal and go to Settings > Endpoints > Configuration Management > Enforcement Scope and enable the platforms for security settings management: Enable Microsoft Defender for Endpoint settings management in the Microsoft 365 Defender portal.

  2. Configure Pilot Mode and Configuration Manager authority settings to fit your organization's needs.

  3. Uncheck both Windows Client devices and Windows Server devices to be able to use Pilot Mode using tagging:
    Configure Pilot mode for Endpoint settings management in the Microsoft 365 Defender portal.

    Tip

    Use pilot mode and the proper device tags to test and validate your rollout on a small number of devices. Without using pilot mode, any device that falls into the scope configured will automatically be enrolled.

  4. Make sure the relevant users have permissions to manage endpoint security settings in Microsoft Endpoint Manager. If not already provided, request for your IT administrator to grant applicable users the Microsoft Endpoint Manager’s Endpoint Security Manager built-in RBAC role.

  5. Sign in to the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center.

  6. Select Endpoint security > Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, and set Allow Microsoft Defender for Endpoint to enforce Endpoint Security Configurations to On.

    Enable Microsoft Defender for Endpoint settings management in the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center.

    When you set this option to On, all devices in the platform scope in Microsoft Defender for Endpoint that aren't managed by Microsoft Endpoint Manager will qualify to onboard to Microsoft Defender for Endpoint.

Tip

Users that are delegated the ability to manage endpoint security settings may not have the ability to implement tenant-wide configurations in Endpoint Manager. Check with your Endpoint Manager administrator for more information on roles and permissions in your organization.

Onboard devices to Microsoft Defender for Endpoint

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint supports several options to onboard devices. For current guidance, see Onboarding tools and methods for Windows devices in the Defender for Endpoint documentation.

Co-existence with Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager

In some environments it might be desired to use Security Management for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint with Configuration Manager tenant attach. If you use both, you’ll need to control policy through a single channel, as using more than one channel creates the opportunity for conflicts and undesired results.

To support this, configure the Manage Security settings using Configuration Manager toggle to Off. Sign in to the Microsoft 365 Defender portal and go to Settings > Endpoints > Configuration Management > Enforcement Scope:

Screen shot of the Defender portal showing the Manage Security settings using Configuration Manager toggle set to Off.

Create Azure AD Groups

After devices onboard to Defender for Endpoint, you'll need to create device groups to support deployment of policy for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. To identify devices that have enrolled with Microsoft Defender for Endpoint but aren't managed by Intune or Configuration Manager:

  1. Sign in to Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center.
  2. Go to Devices > All devices, and then select the column Managed by to sort the view of devices. Devices that onboard to Microsoft Defender for Endpoint and have registered but aren't managed by Intune display Microsoft Defender for Endpoint in the Managed by column. These are the devices that can receive policy for security management for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. You'll also find two labels for devices that are using security management for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint:
    • MDEJoined - Added to devices that are joined to the directory as part of this scenario.
    • MDEManaged - Added to devices that are actively using the security management scenario. This tag is removed from the device if Defender for Endpoint stops managing the security configuration.

You can create groups for these devices in Azure AD or from within the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center.

Deploy policy

After creating one or more Azure AD groups that contain devices managed by Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, you can create and deploy the following policies for Security Management for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint to those groups:

  • Antivirus
  • Firewall
  • Firewall Rules
  • Endpoint Detection and Response

Tip

Avoid deploying multiple policies that manage the same setting to a device.

Microsoft Endpoint Manager supports deploying multiple instances of each endpoint security policy type to the same device, with each policy instance being received by the device separately. Therefore, a device might receive separate configurations for the same setting from different policies, which results in a conflict. Some settings (like Antivirus Exclusions) will merge on the client and apply successfully.

  1. Sign in to the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center.

  2. Go to Endpoint security and then select the type of policy you want to configure, either Antivirus or Firewall, and then select Create Policy.

  3. Enter the following properties or the policy type you selected:

    • For Antivirus policy, select:
      • Platform: Windows 10, Windows 11, and Windows Server
      • Profile: Microsoft Defender Antivirus
    • For Firewall policy, select:
      • Platform: Windows 10, Windows 11, and Windows Server
      • Profile: Microsoft Defender Firewall
    • For Firewall Rules policy, select:
      • Platform: Windows 10, Windows 11, and Windows Server
      • Profile: Microsoft Defender Firewall Rules
    • For Endpoint Detection and Response policy, select:
      • Platform: Windows 10, Windows 11, and Windows Server
      • Profile: Endpoint detection and response

    Note

    These profiles apply to both devices communicating through Mobile Device Management (MDM) with Microsoft Intune as well as devices that are communicating using the Microsoft Defender for Endpoint client.

    Ensure you review your targeting and groups as necessary.

  4. Select Create.

  5. On the Basics page, enter a name and description for the profile, then choose Next.

  6. On the Configuration settings page, select the settings you want to manage with this profile. To learn more about a setting, expand its information dialog and select the Learn more link to view the CSP information for the setting in the on-line documentation.

    When your done configuring settings, select Next.

  7. On the Assignments page, select the Azure AD groups that will receive this profile. For more information on assigning profiles, see Assign user and device profiles.

    Select Next to continue.

    Tip

    • Assignment filters are not supported for devices leveraging the Security Management for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint feature.
    • Only Device Objects are applicable for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint management. Targeting users is not supported.
    • Policies configured will apply to both Microsoft Intune and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint clients
  8. Complete the policy creation process and then on the Review + create page, select Create. The new profile is displayed in the list when you select the policy type for the profile you created.

  9. Wait for the policy to be assigned and view a success indication that policy was applied.

  10. You can validate that settings have applied locally on the client by using the Get-MpPreference command utility.

Monitor status

Status and reports for policies that target devices in this channel are available from the policy node under Endpoint security in the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center.

Drill in to the policy type and then select the policy to view its status. The following policy types support MDE security configuration:

  • Antivirus > Microsoft Defender Antivirus
  • Firewall > Microsoft Defender Firewall or Microsoft Defender Firewall Rules
  • Endpoint detection and response > Endpoint detection and response

When you select a policy, you'll see information about the device check-in status, and can select:

  • View report - View a list of devices that received the policy. You can select a device to drill in and see its per-setting status. You can then select a setting to view more information about it, including other policies that manage that same setting, which could be a source of conflict.

  • Per setting status - View the settings that are managed by the policy, and a count of success, errors, or conflicts for each setting.

Frequently asked questions and considerations

Device check-in frequency

Devices managed by this capability check in with Microsoft Endpoint Manager every 90 minutes to update policy.

Devices protected by Tamper Protection

If a device has Tamper Protection turned on, it will not be possible to edit its settings without turning Tamper Protection off. When editing settings for a device with Tamper Protection turned on, Microsoft Endpoint Manager presents a Failed setting status with an error code of -2147024891.

Assignment Filters and Security Management for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint

Assignment filters aren't supported for devices communicating through the Microsoft Defender for Endpoint channel. While assignment filters can be added to a policy that could be targeted at these devices, the device will ignore assignment filters. For assignment filter support, the device must be enrolled in to Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

Deleting and removing devices

Devices that are using this flow will be unable to be deleted from the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center. The enrollment state is driven from Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, and deleting them from the admin center would only cause them to be removed temporarily. If devices need to be removed from management, they should be removed from the scope of Configuration Management in the Security Center. Once removed, that change will be propagated across services.

Unable to enable the Security Management for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint workload in Endpoint Security

Most initial provisioning flows are typically completed by an Administrator of both services (such as a Global Administrator). There are some scenarios where Role-based Administration is used to customize the permissions of administrators. Today, individuals who are delegated the Endpoint Security Manager role might not have the necessary permissions to enable this feature.

Active Directory joined devices

Devices that are joined to Active Directory will use their existing infrastructure to complete the Hybrid Azure Active Directory join process. While the Defender for Endpoint component will start this process, the join action uses your Federation provider or Azure Active Directory Connect (Azure AD Connect) to complete the join. Review Plan your hybrid Azure Active Directory join implementation to learn more about configuring your environment.

To troubleshoot Azure Active Directory onboarding issues, see Troubleshoot Security Configuration Management Azure Active Directory onboarding issues.

Unsupported security settings

The following security settings are pending deprecation. The Security Management for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint flow doesn't support these settings:

  • Expedite telemetry reporting frequency (under Endpoint Detection and Response)
  • AllowIntrusionPreventionSystem (under Antivirus)

Managing security configurations on domain controllers

Currently, devices are not supported to complete a Hybrid Join to Azure Active Directory. Since an Azure Active Directory trust is required, domain controllers aren't currently supported. We're looking at ways to add this support.

Server Core installation

Due to the platform limitations of Server core installations, these are not supported by Security Management for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint.

Next steps

Monitor Defender for Endpoint