This comprehensive article provides an in-depth overview of the recently released preview of Endpoint Privilege Management (EPM) in Microsoft Intune. Authored by a Microsoft expert, the article explores the features, considerations, and potential use cases for implementing EPM. It emphasizes the importance of carefully evaluating the implementation of EPM in its current preview form due to certain limitations and potential risks. The author also highlights the scenarios where EPM can be beneficial, including granting elevated access to IT professionals, managing legacy applications, and enabling ad-hoc application installs. The article concludes by underscoring the advantages of Microsoft’s EPM solution, including its seamless integration with Microsoft Intune and the simplicity of implementation without the need for additional agents.
Introduction: The article dives into the introduction of the preview version of Endpoint Privilege Management (EPM) in Microsoft Intune. As a powerful capability for managing administrative privileges on Windows desktops, EPM provides organizations with the ability to enhance security and governance by restricting end-user privileges. However, due to its preview status, the article stresses the need for careful consideration during the implementation process.
Features and Considerations: The initial implementation of EPM is well-thought-out, featuring the option to require a user to provide a business justification when requesting elevation, along with the ability to monitor elevation requests within Intune. One notable advantage is that EPM leverages built-in client-side components within the operating system, eliminating the need for additional agents.
To ensure the security and controlled elevation of applications, Intune policies for Endpoint Privilege Management offer multiple options for defining elevation rules. These rules include file hash, certificate, path, and file information, similar to AppLocker rules. This enables administrators to ensure that only authorized applications can be elevated, enhancing security and mitigating potential risks.
Despite the benefits of EPM, the article highlights an important consideration during the preview phase. Currently, when an application is elevated to administrator, its child processes also inherit administrator rights. This could inadvertently grant more rights to the target machine than intended. However, Microsoft is actively working to address this issue and ensure that only the specified application is elevated without impacting child processes.
Potential Use Cases: The article explores several scenarios where Endpoint Privilege Management can be particularly beneficial. One scenario is granting administrative access to specific staff members, such as IT professionals or developers, who require elevated privileges to perform their tasks. With EPM, standing administrator access can be removed, and users can be required to provide a business justification for elevation. This approach allows for simpler delegation of administrative powers, where users are restricted to elevating specific applications on approved devices or desktops.
Another use case for EPM is managing legacy applications that require administrative rights to run. Many organizations still rely on poorly written applications that can benefit from automatic elevation without additional modifications. However, caution is advised during the preview phase, as elevation of a legacy application may unintentionally grant unauthorized privileges to other parts of the system. Implementing security controls or endpoint detection and response solutions, such as Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, can help mitigate such risks.
The article also discusses the scenario of ad-hoc application installs, where end-users or support staff are allowed to manually install specific applications. While this approach can be convenient, organizations should carefully evaluate the regulatory and compliance requirements, application types, and associated risks. Reporting on software inventories and actively updating installed software is still recommended to maintain proper control and governance.
Conclusion: In conclusion, the article acknowledges that third-party solutions offering similar capabilities to Endpoint Privilege Management already exist. However, Microsoft’s solution provides certain benefits, such as integrated policy controls within Microsoft Intune and the built-in client-side components in Windows 10 and Windows 11. These advantages simplify the implementation process and enhance overall security. The article emphasizes that implementing a least privilege model, which includes Endpoint Privilege Management, is a crucial step in protecting Windows endpoints. It encourages organizations of all sizes to evaluate EPM and explore its capabilities as part of their security strategy.