Defender for Endpoint device execution restrictions

This is a video run through of the recent articles I wrote:

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint device isolation

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint restrict app execution

This video will show you how to both isolate a device and restrict app execution on a device. Both of these are great ways to respond to a suspected device security threat and limit security breeches while still allowing remote troubleshooting.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Restrict app execution

In a recent blog I looked at how Microsoft Defender for Endpoint can allow an administrator to restrict a device from communicating with everything except the Defender for Endpoint admin console. You’ll find that post here:

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint device isolation

Isolating a device is a pretty drastic measure, however Defender for Endpoint does have another device restriction option that is probably less intrusive known as Restrict app execution.

What Restrict app execution does is that it present applications that are not signed by Microsoft from running.


To Restrict app execution on a device firstly navigate to:

and select the Device inventory from the options on the left. This will display a list of all the devices that Defender for Endpoint knows about. Select the device you wish to isolate from the list. In the top right hand side should appear an option Restrict app execution as shown above.


Once you select this option you’ll need to provide a reason for this restriction and press the Confirm button. This action will be logged in the admin console for later reference.


You will see the action item display as shown above. You can also cancel if required here.

On the device, in a matter of moments, a message will now appear:

Screenshot 2022-07-12 141355

and if a non Microsoft application is run you’ll see:




Brave browser

This process is using Windows Defender Application Control (WDAC) that I have spoken about before:

Windows Defender Application Control (WDAC) basics

which you can apply yourself via a policy, but in this case, it is being applied on the fly, which is impressive!

To remove this device restriction, all you need to do is select


the Remove app restriction which can be again found in the top right of the device page.


You’ll again be prompted to enter a reason for removing the restriction and then you’ll need to select the Confirm button.


The Action center confirmation will then appear as shown above and in a very short period of time the restriction will be removed from the device.


These confirmation can be found in the Action center option on the left hand side menu under the Actions & submissions item as shown above.

This is handy option in Defender for Endpoint for isolating a possible security issue on a device while minimising the impact to the user. Of course, smart attackers will use Microsoft tools located on the device, such as PowerShell to compromise machines to avoid this restriction. However, typically, they will also need to run a non-Microsoft application somewhere along the line which this technique will block.

For more information about Microsoft Defender Restrict app execution see the Microsoft documentation here:

Take response on a device

and remember that Restrict app execution is another feature that can be used with Defender for Endpoint when responding to security threats on devices.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint device isolation

Let’s say that you have device that you believe has a security threat serious enough that it should be ‘unplugged’ from the network. Doing so physically makes it hard to troubleshoot any incident unless you are in front of that machine. However, Defender for Endpoint allows you to isolate the machine from the network while still remaining connected to the Defender for Endpoint console.


To initiate the device isolation navigate to:

and select the Device inventory option from the menu on the left hand side. That should show you a list of all devices that Defender for Endpoint knows about. Select the device you wish to isolate from the list that appears.

In the top right side of the device page you will find the option to Isolate a device. If you can’t see that option check the ellipse (three dots). Select the ellipse to display the menu shown above. In that menu should be an option Isolate device, which you should select.


You’ll now see a dialog appear as shown above asking you to confirm that you wish to isolate the selected device. You also have the option here to allow Outlook, Teams and Skype for Business while device is isolated if desired. You’ll also need to enter a reason for isolating the device. When all that is done, select the Confirm button.


You should now see the action confirmed in the security console as shown above. You also have the ability to cancel this if needed here.


Almost immediately, the device being isolated will warn the current use that isolation is taking place and the network is disabled as shown above. At that point the user will no longer be able to navigate beyond their current machine (i.e. no browsing Internet or local LAN, no printing and no emails). More importantly, any other covert sessions will also be blocked preventing a security threat from spreading.


As an administrator you will however be able to launch a Live response session in the Defender console, as shown above, to triage the device and run PowerShell scripts if needed.


If you now look in the menu in the top right of this device when you have completed your work, you will see an option Release from isolation as shown above, for that device.


You will once again need to provide a reason why this device is being released from insolation and then select the Confirm button to complete the process.


The Action center will appear again as the isolation is removed. You again, have the option to cancel this if you wish.


The history of the actions taken to isolate and release the device can be found in the Action center menu option under the Actions & submissions heading on the left in the Microsoft Security center.

Defender for Endpoint allow you to quickly and easily isolate a suspected device from all network connections but allow it to remain connected to the Defender console for remote troubleshooting. If you want to read more about this process then consult the Microsoft documentation here:

Isolate devices from the network

MVP 2022-23


I am once again happy to report that I have been renewed as an MVP for 2022-23. This is now my 11th year as an MVP and I am honoured to have been recognised.

Many people are not aware that the MVP award is annual. It isn’t something you ‘apply’ for, it is given is recognition of the work you do from the community around a Microsoft product or service in the previous year. For me, that is Microsoft 365. Thus, to continue to be recognised as an MVP you need to make relevant community contributions annually.

As always, I take this opportunity to thank Microsoft for this award. I have made so many great contacts there that help me every day in all sorts of ways. I am truly grateful for their assistance. Of course I also thank other members of the MVP community who also help me everyday by providing information that I simply couldn’t find elsewhere. Their real world application and implementation of Microsoft technologies is amazing! Finally, there is community of people using and implementing Microsoft cloud technologies that continue to provide real world questions that challenge me to assist and find solutions for. For all these people I also say thanks because this is where the rubber hits the road.

Hopefully, as we move to a world that is more open, it will be possible to once again travel and catch up with all these marvellous people face to face and strengthen the bonds that we have and share yet more information that I can then provide to my community, again face to face I hope.

Again I say thanks for the recognition and being award as an MVP for another year and I’m ready to continue to share my learnings and knowledge with the community at large.

Bad guys keep winning (Part VI)


I’m super angry about this, so be prepared for a bit of a rant. I’m posting this in the hope that it maybe found by others who maybe concerned about a recent call they received from the “Security Department of VISA and Mastercard” detailing fraud on their banking accounts.

My senior parents received a call from “Neil Spence” from the “Security Department of VISA and Mastercard” claiming there had been some potential fraudulent transactions from eBay and Amazon on an account. The total of these was around $400. He then asked whether they wanted them investigated and stopped. Of course they said “Yes please”. He then said he would transfer them to their bank to speak with someone to take action and block these transactions. During this process he provided a call back number 1800 829 403 (which turns out to be the number for the Australian Government Department of Aged Care Fraud hotline which is nothing to do with VISA. I also called and determined there is no “Neil Spence” their either) and a reference number SIP5010.

Now the ‘helpful’ person at ‘the bank’ they were transferred to, got them to provide all the account details (account number and balances) and made a great show of saying that this isn’t a scam because they were not being asked for the PIN to any accounts. The ‘bank’ said it would investigate.

A few days later the ‘bank’ called back and said they had identified that fraud had indeed taken place but by an employee of the ‘bank’ at the local branch they use. The ‘bank’ then said they wanted the help of my parents by catching the employee in act of conducting this fraud. To do this, my parents needed to go the bank immediately and make a cash withdrawal of just over $8,000 and then wait for more instructions. They were however told not to mention this at the bank branch otherwise it would tip off the investigation and allow the perpetrator to get away scott-free!

At this point it was determined that it was a scam but here’s where it gets interesting for me. Even though I was confident that no money was missing I thought it best to call the bank. That process took me down a rabbit hole of pushing numbers on a phone routing system, entering account details, trying to work out how to enter an alpha numeric password via tones, etc. My parents had no hope negotiating that.

When I did eventually get through, I was on hold for more than 20 minutes with no idea of how much longer I’d be, so I hung up and called the Police on a general number. That too went to hold and again I gave up after 20 or so minutes of no reply and no idea of wait numbers.

Here’s why the scammers win. They target people of an older generation who are less comfortable with the modern method of banking (Internet and phone). They also target them because they tend to not question authority. They then establish trust and get the target to ‘help’ them catch the bad actors, that makes the target feel guilty that they should help catch the alleged perpetrator. All this ends up doing is draining money from their accounts and sending it to the scammers all the while making people like my parents less trusting of their local branch staff, which is exactly the people they should be going to. There is no doubt, these scammers know their game.

At this stage it seems like the initial attempt at obtaining funds has been thwarted but given account details were shared unwittingly, we’ll need to be extra vigilant and potentially cancel all the credit cards which will be a very painful process. Very. So this issue is not over by any means and at the very least my parents will probably continue to receive more called from the ‘bank’ and I expected these to become more hostile when they don’t comply.

What has truly made me angry is just how hard it is for people of my parents generation to get help on these matters. Luckily, I was able to provide an external perspective as well as do some investigation of my own. What would of happened if I wasn’t available to assist? Most likely, the scammers would have continued to fleece my parents for large of money over a few weeks.

No wonder the bad guys (and gals) keep winning if the responses I got from the authorities trying to report this is anything to go by. Where is the protection for our societies most vulnerable? As I have said many, many times cybersecurity is largely an illusion, especially when enacted by big institutions. It seems like it is you against some very clever and motivated scammers and if you are the right target, then you really don’t stand much of a chance. From where I sit, there is lots of talk but the problem is not getting any better. Just look at the news and amounts people are scammed out of regularly. Why is there not better protection? People have a right to not have their hard earned money fleeced from them when they are with a large institution that makes all these noises about being cybersecurity-aware and investing billions in protecting customer. Unless you fit their customer profile seems like you are on your own to me!

A sad state of affairs were we are all reduced to looking after ourselves. But what about those who are unable to do this? Do we just let them get fleeced? As I said, I’m angry that it is victim who pays and hope this information is of value to someone else and prevents them from being fleeced or put through this drama.

CIAOPS Need to Know Microsoft 365 Webinar – July


Join me for the free monthly CIAOPS Need to Know webinar. Along with all the Microsoft Cloud news we’ll be taking a look at how to work with files in Microsoft 365.

Shortly after registering you should receive an automated email from Microsoft Teams confirming your registration, including all the event details as well as a calendar invite.

You can register for the regular monthly webinar here:

July Webinar Registrations

(If you are having issues with the above link copy and paste – – into your browser or scan this QR code)


The details are:

CIAOPS Need to Know Webinar – July 2022
Friday 29th of July 2022
11.00am – 12.00am Sydney Time

All sessions are recorded and posted to the CIAOPS Academy.

The CIAOPS Need to Know Webinars are free to attend but if you want to receive the recording of the session you need to sign up as a CIAOPS patron which you can do here:

or purchase them individually at:

Also feel free at any stage to email me directly via with your webinar topic suggestions.

I’d also appreciate you sharing information about this webinar with anyone you feel may benefit from the session and I look forward to seeing you there.