How do you get smarter in MDM & Group Policy?

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How do you get smarter in MDM & Group Policy?

Mar 2024

Block Browser Extensions with Group Policy and Intune

The web browser today has literally become the default app in this era of the cloud and spurred the growth of browser extensions. Browser extensions provide a convenient way to customize and enhance a user’s web browsing experience with added functionalities and features directly within the browser. However, just as you don’t want users utilizing certain applications on corporate devices, you might want to restrict certain browser extensions for reasons of security, compliancy, content control, productivity, and performance. For instance, you may not want users installing a VPN extension to get around your web filtering. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to achieve this.

Create a Browser Extension Blocklist with Intune

If you use Intune to manage your Windows 10 and Windows 11 laptops, you can create a configuration profile that will specify which extensions a user cannot install. Extensions already installed prior to the deployment of blocklist will be disabled without a way for the user to enable them. Should the blocklist be removed at some point, the extension will automatically become enabled once again.

Using the Microsoft Intune Admin Center go to Devices > Configuration and create a new profile. Choose Windows 10 and later as the platform and Administrative Templates as the Profile type. Assign a name to the profile and then navigate to User Configuration > Microsoft Edge > Extensions and then enable “Control which extensions cannot be installed” and input the extension names you want to filter out. You can look up extension names on the Internet. An example is shown below.

Then assign the profile to the designated groups and complete the wizard. You can also apply Edge browser extension restriction on the Computer side. In the example below, I have configured a block list for the Chrome browser.

Create a Browser Extension Blocklist with Group Policy

You can do the same with Group Policy. Because we are using Administrative Templates, the setting navigation is basically identical. Create a GPO and use the Group Policy Management Editor to navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Microsoft Edge > Extensions and enable “Control which extensions cannot be installed” as shown below. Once again, you will need to input the names of the browser extensions.

Feb 2024

How to Block Access to Windows Copilot with Group Policy and Intune

Windows Copilot is a feature designed to enhance user productivity and support through AI-powered assistance directly within the Windows operating system. It offers real-time suggestions, automates tasks, and provides contextual help based on user actions and behaviors. By integrating deeply with Windows, Copilot simplifies navigation, streamlines workflows, and helps users efficiently manage their tasks, making technology more accessible and intuitive for everyone.

Think of Copilot as a specialized variant of ChatGPT, seamlessly integrated into the Windows operating system to provide real-time assistance, task automation, and contextual support directly from the desktop environment. Despite its clear advantages, there are potential concerns that an organization might have:

  • Copilot’s ability to analyze user data and behaviors might raise privacy concerns.
  • The use of AI tools may conflict with some security compliances concerning the handling of data.
  • Copilot may not be suitable for some roles that require precise communication.
  • While it promises to boost productivity, reliance on Copilot could diminish users' problem-solving abilities.
  • The introduction of Copilot may lead to new errors that can potentially disrupt workflows
  • In scenarios such as public kiosks, the functionality of Copilot may be unnecessary or even inappropriate.

Block with Group Policy

To restrict user access to Windows Copilot, create a GPO using Group Policy Management and then navigate to Computer > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows CoPilot and enabe “Turn off Windows Copilot” as shown in the screenshot below.

Block with Intune

While Intune currently lacks a direct menu option for configuring Windows Copilot, but it can be administered through OMA-URI settings. The essential settings required are as follows:

OMA-URI Path: ./User/Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/WindowsAI/TurnOffWindowsCopilot

Data type: Integer

Value: 1

Complete the profile by adding any desired scope tags and assign the profile to your designated groups and finish the wizard.

Feb 2024

Lock Down the Windows Settings App with Intune

In the past, group policy administrators focused on limiting standard users' access to various sections of the Windows Control Panel. Today, while controlling access to the Control Panel remains important, it's equally crucial to restrict access to the Windows Settings app. This approach is driven by several key objectives:

  • Prevent unauthorized modifications that could undermine system security.
  • Ensure compliance of regulatory standards
  • Enhance the reliability of client devices and systems to reduce ticket volume.
  • Safeguard against both accidental and deliberate data loss scenarios.
  • Ensure computers are optimized for business-critical functions.
  • Facilitate device management and troubleshooting by maintaining consistent settings across the organization.

One way to approach this is rather than creating an Intune policy that restricts access to specific ms-settings, you use an allow list approach that only allows access to a specific list of settings. To do so using the Microsoft Intune Admin Center go to Devices > Configuration and click “Create” to make a new profile. Choose Windows 10 and later as the Platform and Custom Templates as the Profile type.

Using custom templates, assign the profile a name and apply the following OMA-URI settings:

OMA-URI: `./Device/Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/Settings/PageVisibilityList`

Data type: String

For the String value, type showonly: and list each msi-setting you want immediately after the colon. Separate each msi-setting with a semicolon like this:


The screenshot below shows the process using Intune:

Complete the profile by adding any desired scope tags and assign the profile to your designated groups and finish the wizard.

You can find a complete list of ms-settings names on the Microsoft website

Jan 2024

Be Careful When Applying Intune Conditional Access Policies

Conditional Access policies in Microsoft Intune are designed to enhance security by ensuring that only authorized users under specific conditions can access your organization's applications and services. These policies are a critical component of a zero-trust security model, which assumes breach and verifies each request as though it originates from an uncontrolled network. Conditional Access Policies are a potent security mechanism, yet they require careful management to avoid inadvertently locking out individual users including yourself, or even the entire organization.

Let’s say you have all your users and computers contained within Azure Active Directory and you want to create a conditional access policy that restricts access to the Azure AD portal for only Azure administrators or other privileged users that require access to perform their job duties. To create a conditional access policy using the Microsoft Intune Admin Center you navigate to Devices > Conditional Access and create a new policy.

The default action of this policy will be to block access by default to the Azure AD portal. Thus, under “Include” I have selected All users. Note the warning directly underneath this selection that cautions me about locking myself out as the policy will apply to all users, even the person creating the policy and all high privilege administrators.

Thus, it is imperative that I assign groups that will be excluded from the default action. As shown in the screenshot below, I have selected an assembly of users and groups to exclude.

The next step is to select a Target Resource. The target resource refers to the applications, services, or data that the policy will protect. These resources are what the policy conditions apply to, determining how and when users can access them based on specific criteria such as user identity, device compliance, location, and risk level. Target resources can include cloud applications, which in this case is Windows Azure Service Management as shown below.

For this policy, I will not set any conditions, such as location or device platform, because I intend to block access irrespective of these factors. The final step is to specify what action will be granted to the Azure portal. Here I am going to block access for all users except for those specifically excluded from this policy. Since I have yet to exclude my own account or any group that includes my account, Intune is providing a final warning, cautioning that the policy I'm about to implement will prevent me from accessing the Azure portal.

Conditional Access policies are a powerful tool to enforce least privilege access to your critical resources. However, caution is necessary, as a single unintended click could lead to adverse outcomes.