What is Windows MDM Policy: A Closer Look

    Policies form the core of everything any organization does. There are policies pertaining to almost every aspect of a business, from people to operations. Mobile device management (MDM) is no different, and for businesses relying on Windows, a Windows MDM policy is integral to IT teams and employees (or end-users). 

    Windows MDM Policy
    Windows MDM Policy for Businesses

    While a device management policy may not get the limelight like its HR or finance counterparts, it is as important as any organizational policy. With the domination of Windows devices across workplaces, an MDM policy is foundational to effective Windows device management.

    This blog brings forward a closer look at what a Windows MDM policy is and its components in the context of securing enterprise mobility.

    Windows MDM Policy: Definition & Purpose

    A Windows MDM policy is a set of rules or plan of action which governs how Windows devices are used, managed, and secured within an organization. These policies are applied to devices (at device or group level) once they are enrolled in an MDM solution and differ from organization to organization and even user to user. Through MDM policies, administrators can configure settings, enforce security measures, and manage applications on devices remotely, ensuring both efficiency and protection. 

    Windows 10 and 11 offer built-in support for MDM policies, allowing seamless integration with various MDM solutions. For on-premise Active Directory (AD) domains, Windows Group Policy is a good option. However, for modern, dispersed workplaces with a large Windows device fleet, a cloud-based MDM solution is the best bet, and that’s what Windows MDM policy is all about. In essence, it defines how specific MDM features will be leveraged on Windows.

    Time for a closer look into Windows MDM policy through its components.

    Major Components of Windows MDM Policy

    Here are some of the basic and essential components of a Windows MDM policy, which may have slight variations depending on the MDM solution provider. It’s important to keep in mind that all these are applicable after a device is enrolled using the available Windows enrollment options

    Security Policies

    BitLocker Encryption: Utilizing BitLocker for full disk encryption is an elemental security measure. It ensures data stored on the device is inaccessible to unauthorized users, especially if a device is lost or stolen. Administrators can enforce BitLocker policies, including encryption methods and strength, to protect sensitive information. Moreover, for Entra ID joined devices, admins can enforce and automate BitLocker encryption. 

    Windows Hello for Business: MDM solutions empower IT admins to leverage the full potential of Windows Hello for Business. With an MDM solution that supports Entra ID (formerly Azure AD) joined devices, which are the foundation for Windows Hello for Business, you can easily configure and enforce these enhanced security settings across an entire Windows 10 & 11 device fleet. 

    Windows Defender: IT teams gain the upper hand in securing their Windows environment using an MDM solution. It empowers you to configure and deploy a comprehensive range of Microsoft Defender Antivirus policies on your managed devices, including automated scans, real-time monitoring, exclusions, signature updates, folder access, etc. 

    Data Loss Prevention (DLP): Implementing DLP policies helps identify, monitor, and protect sensitive data across devices. This includes restrictions on file sharing, copying, and access rights, ensuring data does not leave the corporate environment without proper authorization.

    Conditional Access Policies: Conditional access policies provide granular control over device access to corporate resources based on conditions such as device compliance, location, or risk level. It ensures that only trusted devices under specific conditions can access sensitive data.

    Peripheral Control: Peripheral control policies determine how peripheral access and removable media function on managed Windows devices. These policies cover allowing or blocking (or read-only) access to USB ports, managing desktop notifications, and addressing related exemptions.

    Network Policies

    Automated Wi-Fi Settings: Network policies allow for the automatic configuration of Wi-Fi settings on enrolled devices, including SSID, security protocols, and passwords. This ensures devices connect only to authorized networks, reducing the risk of connecting to potentially insecure public Wi-Fi networks.

    Wi-Fi Profile Distribution: Administrators can distribute Wi-Fi profiles to manage which networks devices can connect to, ensuring that devices use secure and approved connections for accessing corporate resources.

    VPN Configuration: Enforcing VPN usage through MDM policies involves configuring VPN profiles with predefined settings, including server addresses, protocols, authentication methods, and split tunneling policies. This guarantees that remote connections to the corporate network are securely encrypted.

    Conditional VPN Access: Implement VPN policies that trigger based on specific conditions, such as location or network. For example, devices connecting from outside the corporate network can be required to use a VPN, ensuring secure access to internal resources.

    Device Health Validation: Prior to granting access to the network, NAC (network access control) policies can assess the security posture of a device, checking for compliance with security policies, the presence of security software, and the latest security updates.

    Restricted Access for Non-compliant Devices: Devices failing to meet the predefined health criteria can be restricted from accessing the network or limited to a quarantine network until compliance is achieved.

    Internet Content Filtering: Implement policies to control web access, blocking or allowing websites based on categories, URLs, or keywords. This protects users from accessing harmful or inappropriate content and mitigates the risk of malware.

    Safe Browsing Policies: Enforce safe browsing standards by configuring browser settings through MDM, including privacy settings, pop-up blocking, and fraud protection. This ensures a safer browsing experience, reducing exposure to web-based threats.

    Firewall Rules: Define firewall rules to control both inbound and outbound network traffic. This includes specifying allowed or blocked applications, ports, and protocols to safeguard against unauthorized access and network attacks.

    Context-Aware Firewall Policies: Apply dynamic firewall settings based on the device’s current context, such as user identity, device location, or connection security level. This adaptive approach enhances security while maintaining flexibility for the user.

    Patch Management (or Patching) Policies (for OS & Third-party Apps)

    Detection and Download: Automatically detecting when new OS and app updates are available and downloading them in preparation for deployment.

    Installation and Restart Management: Managing the installation of updates and any required restarts. This includes the ability to delay restarts if a device is in use, thereby avoiding unscheduled downtime.

    Critical Updates: Prioritizing the deployment of patches classified as critical for security, ensuring they are applied as soon as possible.

    Selective Patching: In some cases, certain devices or applications may require specific patches to be deferred due to compatibility issues. Selective patching policies enable administrators to exclude these from the general update cycle until issues are resolved.

    Bandwidth Management: Deploying patches, especially to a large number of devices simultaneously, can consume significant network bandwidth. Implementing bandwidth management techniques, such as phased rollouts, can help address this issue.

    User Communication: Keeping users informed about upcoming updates and any required actions on their part is essential for an efficient patching policy. Effective communication helps ensure user cooperation and reduces the risk of disruption.

    Additional Policies

    Apart from the security, network, and patch management, a Windows MDM policy has some additional components. Some of them include:

    Dynamic Device Groups: Windows MDM policy is automatically applied to a device (at group level) once it is added to a specific dynamic device group with the same policy requirements.

    User-based Profile Switch: An element that highlights the user-agnostic nature of Windows, particularly for shared devices, a Windows MDM policy can include user-based profile switching based on some predetermined conditions (like time, location, etc.). 

    Location Tracking: Depending on the end-user or the device use case (for real-time location details), the authorized IT personnel can also include and enforce location tracking policies within a Windows MDM policy. 

    Create, Enforce, and Manage Windows MDM Policy with Scalefusion

    Windows MDM policy represents a comprehensive approach to managing and securing Windows devices within corporate environments. By understanding and implementing its various components, organizations can harness the benefits of enterprise mobility while reducing their attack surface.

    Scalefusion Windows MDM offers seamless Windows device management capabilities with ample scope for creating, enforcing, and managing a robust Windows MDM policy. Get in touch with our experts and schedule a demo to learn more. Start your 14-day free trial today!

    Abhinandan Ghosh
    Abhinandan Ghosh
    Abhinandan is a Senior Content Editor at Scalefusion who is an enthusiast of all things tech and loves culinary and musical expeditions. With more than a decade of experience, he believes in delivering consummate, insightful content to readers.

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