Need to Know podcast–Episode 266

Jeff Alexander from Microsoft joins me to catch up and talk about the ‘new normal’, securing remote environments, update management, migrations and more. Jeff also shares some handy information about the Microsoft Fasttrack service and why everyone should take advantage of it. I also bring you up to date with what’s happens in the Microsoft Cloud at the top of the show, so lean back, listen in and enjoy.

This episode was recorded using Microsoft Teams and produced with Camtasia 2020.

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Take a listen and let us know what you think –

You can listen directly to this episode at:

Subscribe via iTunes at:

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show


Jeff Alexander – @jeffa36, About Me, Linkedin

Benefits of Fasttrack

Cloud Management Gateway

Microsoft Secure Score

Azure AD Conditional Access

Microsoft Zero Trust

Windows 10 Cloud Configuration

Overview of Windows Autopilot

Microsoft adoption

Step-by-step threat protection in Microsoft Defender for Office 365

Announcing the iOS/iPadOS Security Configuration Framework

OneDrive sync 64-bit for Windows now in public preview

Block BCC Messages to Distribution Groups in Exchange Online

Install Viva Connections today

Get started with trials for Microsoft Viva Topics

New Security Signals study shows firmware attacks on the rise; here’s how Microsoft is working to help eliminate this entire class of threats

SharePoint: 20 years young

New threat and vulnerability management experiences in Microsoft 365 security

Email filtering reports

Launching threat analytics for Microsoft 365 Defender

Best practices for migrating to SharePoint and OneDrive

Need to Know podcast–Episode 255

FAQ podcasts are shorter and more focused on a particular topic. In this episode I speak about some automation options that are available in the Microsoft Cloud.

This episode was recorded using Microsoft Teams and produced with Camtasia 2020

Take a listen and let us know what you think –

You can listen directly to this episode at:

Subscribe via iTunes at:

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.


FAQ 17

Modern Device Management – Part 1

CIAOPS Patron Community


Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium–Part 7

Office 365 Mobile MDM – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium–Part 1

Intune MDM – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium – Part 2

Intune MAM – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business premium – Part 3

Endpoint Manager – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium – Part 4

Baselines – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium – Part 5

Deployment – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium – Part 6

So far the discussions in this series has focused largely around security and configuration. However, modern device management also brings with it a new way to deploy devices and applications. It provides the ability to do this in a completely hands off approach. That means, that it is now possible to purchase the device, deploy the device, manage and maintain the devices and retire that device without every having to physically touch the device.

A great example of this is Windows Autopilot. This is a services, surfaced through the Endpoint Manager console, that allows you to set deployment policies for device initial set up, automatically from the cloud. The end user is largely shielded from the initial Windows OEM on boarding experience and are typically only required to provide their credentials to configure the device.

Initially, Windows Autopilot was designed as a service largely available with the purchase of a new device. However, importantly, it is now something that can be, and should be, applied to all Windows 10 devices in your environment going forward.

The first requirement to take advantage of Windows Autopilot is that the user requires a license that supports it. The good news is that Microsoft 365 Business Premium includes a license for Windows Autopilot.

Next, unique information about the devices needs to be obtained and uploaded into the Endpoint Manager console. If the devices is a new purchase, this will be available from the distributor. However, if the device already exists then it will need to be ‘harvested’ using a simply PowerShell script. You can read more about this here:

Adding devices to Windows Autopilot

The script that you use is here:


and the commands are:

Install-Script -Name Get-WindowsAutoPilotInfo
Get-WindowsAutoPilotInfo.ps1 -OutputFile AutoPilotHWID.csv

just make sure you run PowerShell as an administrator so the Autopilot module can be installed.

When you run this script it will create a CSV output file that looks like:


Basically the file contains the device serial number, Windows product id and a hardware hash. In essence, file allows that machine to be uniquely identified.


The next step in the process is to upload the machine CSV file into the Endpoint Manager console. To do this, navigate to Devices, then Enroll devices as shown above.


You’ll then need to select Windows enrollment  and Devices as shown above.


You’ll then need to select the Import button from the menu at the top. You’ll then see a dialog for where you can upload the machine CSV file as shown above.

When you upload the file will be checked for integrity.


You will the result as shown above. You can also have multiple devices in this CSV file and that number will also be reflected here.

When ready, select the Import button.


The import process will take a few minutes per device to digest but after that you should see the machine you imported as shown above.

What will also happen now is that Endpoint Manager will look for a match between the devices you imported and any machine that may already be enrolled in the environment. This is why it is important to all any existing Windows 10 machine here, even if they didn’t have Autopilot applied to them initially.


You’ll also note that you can assign a user to the device, as shown above. Doing so will mean that upon completing Autopilot it will be ready for that user, without the need for them having to log in during the Autopilot process. This allows device enrolment WITHOUT the need for a user on the device!


Now that Endpoint Manager can recognise the devices as they boot up, the next step is to set the process through which these devices will run during that initial boot phase. This is set via Deployment Policies as shown above, in the Windows Autopilot Deployment Program area of Enroll devices in Endpoint Manager..


Here, select the option to Create profile, as shown above


Give the new policy a name and generally set the Convert all targeted devices to Autopilot as Yes.


The next stage is where you set the the Out Of the Box Experience (OOBE) for the user. For example, you can hide the Microsoft Software License Terms, Privacy settings, etc. Generally here, you want to minimise what the user is presented with as the machine boots.


You then assign the policy as you would any other in Endpoint Manager and complete  the process.

The policy should now be displayed in the list of deployment profiles. You can edit the existing profile or create new ones if you wish.


Now that Endpoint Manager can identify devices as they boot and apply a deployment profile to them as well, you can target these devices for an Autopilot Reset as shown above.

To do this, simply navigate to the device in Endpoint Manager, select the ellipse (three dots) in the top right, and from the menu that appears select Autopilot reset.


The device will receive a warning as shown above, indicating the process will start in 45 minutes. If however, the machine is rebooted prior to this, the Autopilot process will commence.

When the Autopilot process does commence, the device will re-initialise Windows to being ‘Out Of the Box’. If a user has been assigned to that device, it will used to join to Azure AD and enrol in Endpoint manager automatically, without user interaction. When complete, the device will be ready for the user to access the new clean environment.

In summary then, Windows Autopilot is part of Endpoint Manager and allows you to provide an ‘Out Of the Box Experience’ (OOBE) for users and automatically enrol the device in your environment. You can do this with new devices shipped to the user directly from a distributor and you can also incorporate any existing Windows 10 device in your environment by harvesting the unique device information and then uploading that into the Endpoint Manager console.

Once a machine appears under Autopilot in the Endpoint Manager console, it means you can fully manage and redeploy that device if you need to, without ever having to touch that machine. That is what modern device management is all about!

Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium – Part 8

Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium–Part 6

Previous parts in this series are:

Office 365 Mobile MDM – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium–Part 1

Intune MDM – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium – Part 2

Intune MAM – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business premium – Part 3

Endpoint Manager – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium – Part 4

Baselines – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium – Part 5

All the articles so far have focused on the technical implementation of device management, however these are all effectively subservient to real need of allowing users to get their work done. Security that gets in the way of what people need to do will simply result in them bypassing it and opting for solutions that are less secure and less controllable, aka shadow IT. Thus, when implementing successful device management, you keep in mind the end game here which is, allowing users to get done what they need to, securely.

Deploying all the options that are available with device management is daunting given the sheer number of settings, across multiple operating systems via multiple services like Intune and Endpoint security. Thus, even before you start implementation you should ensure that you have a good documentation regime in place to keep track of what you implement and what changes you make over times. There are going to be circumstances when you need to track down a specific setting in a specific policy and having good documentation is going to save you boatloads of time. It is also going to save you going round and round in circles making changes that have unexpected consequences. Thus,

Rule number 1 = maintain good documentation

With a plethora of policies and settings to configure having a define naming convention is going to make troubleshooting far easier. I have seen all sorts of policy names that bear no relevancy to the actual settings it implements. Remember, you can end up with multiple policies for multiple device operating systems, for multiple audiences across multiple services. Using something like MAM iOS Sales team or MDM Windows Executives or ES Antivirus Field Staff is going to allow people to quickly understand what these policies are for, where they come from and who they apply to. Good naming conventions are defined prior to implementation and applied consistently (which is why they are called conventions after all!). So,

Rule number 2 = define a naming convention upfront and apply it consistently

All users are not created the same. Thus, you’ll need to consider dividing up your policies into deployment rings, much like what Microsoft does with Windows I suggest. You’ll probably need a test or canary ring, and early adopters ring and an everyone else ring.

The canary ring is basically test devices and users to determine the effects of applying policies. This will give you early warning as to what impact settings actually have in your environment. This will be 1 – 2% of your population.

The early adopters ring is targeted at those users who like to be first and are prepared to ride out and bumps along the way by providing constructive feedback on the impacts of settings to them. This will probably be 10 – 15% of your population. Users in this ring should ‘opt in’ and understand the ramifications of getting things that may still be testing.

You may need to have multiple rings for different locations, devices or audiences. This is again where good documentation and naming conventions are critical. It is therefore recommended that:

Rule 3 = apply policies and updates to policies in rings to the environment

Not everything goes to plan. Sometimes setting and policy changes can have unexpected consequences on devices. Sometimes, these unexpected changes can prevent you from doing something you need to do. As with setting up conditional access, don’t lock yourself out:

Rule 4 = ensure you have an admin user that is not subject to any policy in case of emergency

Device management is typically never a world of all green check marks (and rainbows and unicorns). It is typically a world with setting conflicts, non compliance and strange impacts. Bulk policy implementations and/or changes are a recipe for never ending frustration. Start small and grow. Don’t turn everything on to the max out of the box. My advice is to start with one baseline at a time and get that all green, then move to individual Endpoint security policies and get that all green, then compliance and get that all green and so on. Thus,

Rule 5 = grow into your settings and policies

Some other recommendations for those that are actually tasked with deploying device management:

A. Have at least one physical test device for each operating systems. That means having a test iOS, Android and Windows 10 device at your disposal. It is easy enough to pick up a cheap or second hand device you can use. Nothing beats seeing exactly what happens on a physical device when policies are applied. It will also allow you to better understand the process of wiping and re-purposing devices.

B. Use a demo tenant first time out. Don’t learn this stuff on your customer’s dime. Don’t learn on your own production tenant. Sign up for a free demo Microsoft 365 demo tenant at and do your learning there. There is nothing worse than test policies and configurations continuing to show up in production environments.

C. Fully implement device management in your own production tenant. Don’t forget that if you look after other customers, YOU are also a target of the bad actors. Your environment is an Aladdin’s cave full of passwords, logins and confidential information for many others. In short you hold the crown jewels for many businesses. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. Over prepare. Over secure your environment. Doing so will also help you more fully appreciate the impact that device and security settings will have on your customers and deployments as well as keeping their treasures secure.

D. Configuration is never complete. New devices, enhanced baselines, new policy options will all emerge over time. Security is a journey, not a destination as they say. You will need to monitor, review and adjust what you have implemented over time. You will need to evaluate what works, what doesn’t and what additional security you can apply to the environment. It will never be a ‘set and forget’ situation. Security is a service not a product.

E. Leverage the power of automation. Baselines are a great starting point and reduce much of the need for individual settings. However, technologies like PowerShell and the Microsoft Graph give you the ability to automate much. An example of this that I have detailed is here:

Automating the deployment of an Attack Surface Reduction policy across multiple tenants

The great things about these device management services from Microsoft is that they are consistent for everyone that has them. Thus, the same script will work across every customer that has those services. With so many settings available to you in device manage these days, it makes sense to invest your time in become more ‘code centric’ (DevOps anyone?) and adding those skills to your quiver.

In summary then, successful device deployment is all about people. It should be focused on delivering secure productivity without mindless obstruction, which being carried out in a systematic and consistent manner. You can have all the greatest deployment tools at your beckoned call, but if they are implemented incorrectly, the end result is far worse for end users and administrators than it would have been without device management. So, don’t make the mistake of seeing device management as a purely technical challenge, It ain’t!

Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium – Part 7

Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium–Part 5

Previous parts in this series are:

Office 365 Mobile MDM – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium–Part 1

Intune MDM – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium – Part 2

Intune MAM – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business premium – Part 3

Endpoint Manager – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium – Part 4

One of the biggest challenges with the availability of all these policies via Intune MDM and MAM as well as Endpoint security is getting to a ‘best practices’ state.


One of the benefits that Endpoint security provides is the ability to implement Security baselines as shown above. There is a baseline for Windows 10 security, Microsoft Defender ATP and Microsoft Edge already. Microsoft recently announced that an Office baseline will soon be available.


The idea is that Microsoft will publish a ‘best practices’ baseline, as shown above for Edge, and that you can create a policy or ‘profile’ as it is called here, from this to use across your environment just like any other policy we have already spoken about.


The idea is that, rather than you having to work out and apply a range of best practice settings across all the individual policies, you can simply implement these baseline policies from Microsoft as a starting point.

Another benefit is, as updated baselines are released by Microsoft, you can simply update any existing ‘profile’ you have created with these baselines to incorporate these updated settings.


When you look at the settings available in these baselines, as shown above for Edge, you’ll notice that they basically contain many of the same settings available to you in individual Endpoint security policies. Thus, setting once via a baseline ‘profile’ is a much faster method of implement these settings. Otherwise, you’d probably have to create multiple individual policies to achieve the same level of protection.

You can, of course, adjust any baseline ‘profile’ that you create and when a new baseline is available it can be applied to existing ‘profile’ you have created while maintaining any custom settings you have made in that ‘profile’. You can also create a range of different ‘profiles’ from baselines and target them to different audiences in your environment just as you can with other individual policies from Intune MDM, MAM and Endpoint security.

If you already have individual Endpoint security and Intune policies deployed you will need to be careful if you then start to deploy baseline policies. If there are differences in the settings between the baseline policies and those configured in Intune MDM, MAM and Endpoint security you’ll end up with a conflict. Thus, you will either need to make sure that the settings are identical between all the policies that you use or stop using some of the conflicting policies. Generally, I would suggest that just using the baseline policy for the setting is a best practice approach.

Why do I believe this? If you look at the volume of policy settings that can be made across all options like Intune MDM, MAM and Endpoint security, it makes more sense to me to start with what Microsoft believes is best practice first and adjust from there. Doing so is going to:

1. Reduce the amount of individual settings in individual policies that you need to make.

2. Reduce setting conflicts across all your policies.

3. Allow you to more easily to update to new best practices when they become available.

With this in mind and looking back across what we have talked about so far with MDM and MAM, Intune and Endpoint security, I would suggest this as a new best practice approach to configuring device security is, in order:

1. Implement all Microsoft baseline security policies.

2. Make any required customisations to the deployed baseline ‘profiles’ in your environment.

3. Implement individual Endpoint security policies for additional settings not covered by the baselines.

4. Implement MDM compliance policies for additional settings not covered by baselines or individual Endpoint security policies.

5. Implement MDM configuration policies for additional settings not covered by baselines, individual Endpoint security and MDM compliance policies.

6. Implement MAM application protection polices for additional settings not covered by baselines, individual Endpoint security, MDM compliance and MDM configuration policies.

7. Implement MAM configuration policies for additional settings not covered by baselines, individual Endpoint security, MDM compliance, MDM configuration policies and MAM application protection policies.

in short, start with baselines, then implement individual Endpoint security policies, then Intune MDM policies, then Intune MAM policies.

At this stage, no single policy is going to provide all the protection required. Thus, you need to use a mix of policies across baseline, Endpoint security and Intune to suit your needs. However, in the long run, I see baselines and Endpoint security policies as being the future and suggest you start there rather than the traditional approach that was to start with Intune. If you already have Intune in place, for example, then you’ll need to think about migrating to baselines and Endpoint security policies as I am currently doing. It will be frustrating at times tracking down the duplicates at times, but I suggest doing so will position you better for future improvements in the device management space.

Success with device management is not merely about select the right setting in a policy, it is also about deploying it effectively into your organisation. That’s what I’ll take a look at in the next article.

As something else to consider, I’d suggest you have a read of my article:

The changing security environment with Microsoft 365

In light of the recommendation to apply Microsoft baselines. The questions to think about are – in the future why can’t Microsoft simply apply these baseline policies automatically and use AI to fill the gaps with additional settings? Where does that then leave those who are setting device polices today?

Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium – Part 6

Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium–Part 3

In the previous parts of this series I have covered:

Office 365 Mobile MDM – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium–Part 1

Intune MDM – Modern Device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium – Part 2

The next step in the step in the process of securing and managing devices with Microsoft 365 Business Premium is Mobile Application Management (MAM) which we’ll look at now.

MAM allows the ability to fully manage select applications, typically business applications like Outlook Mobile, Word Mobile, etc on any device. MAM is handy because it doesn’t require device management (MDM). This makes especially handy when users bring their own personal devices and want access to business data like emails but don’t want the organisation having fully control of their device. Thus, MAM is prefect for the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scenario.


We can thus use MAM on any device, independent of whether it is Azure AD joined, registered or stand alone.

The Intune service inside Endpoint Manager is typically what is used for MAM. Application control is once again managed by policies that are pushed down to the individual applications on the device. The first of these policies is known as App Protection policies which is focused on application security.


These policies are located in the Endpoint Manager portal under Apps and then App protection policies as shown above.

You can target policies to different device OS versions and here you typically define ‘targeted apps’ (i.e. corporate apps) as well any apps you want exempted from protection policies. Anything not defined by either of these is considered a non-corporate app. In here you also define corporate data locations, which will typically be Microsoft 365 services like OneDrive, SharePoint, etc but may also include on premises and third party cloud based services (say Salesforce). Now with both corporate apps and corporate data locations defined you can set policies around how data is to be stored and managed. For example, you may want to only allow corporate data to be saved to corporate locations or maybe you only want to store corporate data onto ‘secure’ devices. App protection policies allow these configurations and definitions.

App protection policies also give you the ability to selectively wipe data from corporate managed apps. MDM gives you the ability to wipe the WHOLE device remotely, both corporate and personal apps and data. MAM however, gives you the ability to just wipe the data inside Outlook mobile for example. This is why MAM is generally the best option for BYOD devices where the device owner don’t want the business to have access to anything but corporate data on the device.


You then have Application Configuration policies as shown above which are also part of Intune MAM. These policies target the options you want configured for applications on devices.


This is again controlled by policy which can be targeted at the device OS. The above is taken from the configuration policy for Outlook for iOS and illustrates the level of detail you can go down to when configuring. You can ensure that suitably configured apps are made available to user and devices optionally or as a requirement. There is a lot that can be done here to allow you to deploy and manage applications on mobile devices.


You get to these policies via the Apps option in Endpoint Manager and then App configuration policies as shown above.

Many people ask the question about whether you should or can use MDM and MAM together? The answer is most certainly, Yes. The reason you would choose to do that is to provide extra security and convenience. MDM means for example I can ensure that my device storage is encrypted while MAM will prompt me for a pin number when I actually use a corporate app. That makes my data more secure. Do you need to use both MDM and MAM? It all depends on your security and deployment requirements. If you mainly have BYOD devices that don’t want to be device managed then MAM will be your only option. The main thing is that it provides flexibility when it comes to both security and configuration of your devices. The best strategy is defence in depth. The more layers of protection you have the lower your risk.

Given all the options that have been covered in both MDM and MAM so far, hopefully you can now see the huge amount of options available to you when it comes to managing devices. The tricks is to firstly get the device enrolled, apply MDM and then MAM policies.

Don’t think however this is the end of device options available to you. Oh no, Endpoint Manager has a many additional configuration options you can implement to make your devices EVEN more secure. Stay tuned for that upcoming article.

MOdern device Management with Microsoft 365 Business Premium – Part 4