MDE Linux Management from the Security Portal

Tue Nov 21, 23 | MDE | Security
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Recently the MDE Attach capability was updated to include managing the MDE service on Linux, and MacOS, to provide a similar experience for configuring and managing the MDE service on these non-windows platforms. There are several questions that this new capability raises which I will attempt to address in this post.

Local File vs. Portal - What Wins?

If a Linux device has a local configuration file, mdatp_management.json, and is targeted by an MDE policy from the portal, then the portal’s policy will be applied over the local management file.

How is the policy applied/pushed to the device?

On a Linux device in the /etc/opt/microsoft/mdatp/managed folder, the same location where the local configuration file was placed, a new mdeattach_managed.json will be created with the settings from the security portal. Based on comparing the two files they appear to use the same json format.

Can I layer policies?

No. If the machine is MDE managed it will NOT respect the local security policy file.

No policy targeting the device, but my local policy being ignored?

While writting this I found that once a device becomes MDE Attached it will communicate with the defender service and generate the mdeattach_managed.json file in the managed folder, this includes even if no policy is targeting the device. Since no policy is applied then the content of the file will only be {}, and as mentioned above once the mdeattach_managed.json file is present this will be the devices configuration. Because the policy file is essentially empty MDE will revert back to the default policy file /etc/opt/microsoft/mdatp/wdavcfg.