Security baseline (DRAFT) for Windows 10 v1809 and Windows Server 2019

Microsoft is pleased to announce the draft release of the security configuration baseline settings for Windows 10 version 1809 (a.k.a., “Redstone 5” or “RS5”), and for Windows Server 2019. Please evaluate these proposed baselines and send us your feedback via blog comments below.

(Note: the final version of this baseline was published here.)

The downloadable attachment to this blog post includes importable GPOs, a PowerShell script for applying the GPOs to local policy, custom ADMX files for Group Policy settings, documentation in spreadsheet form and as a Policy Analyzer file (MSFT-Win10-v1809-RS5-WS2019-DRAFT.PolicyRules). In this release, we have changed the documentation layout in a few ways:

  • MS Security Baseline Windows 10 v1809 and Server 2019.xlsx – multi-tabbed workbook listing all Group Policy settings that ship in-box with Windows 10 v1809 or Windows Server 2019. Columns for “Windows 10 v1809,” “WS2019 Member Server,” and “WS2019 DC” show the recommended settings for those three scenarios. A small number of cells are color-coded to indicate that the settings should not be applied to systems that are not joined to an Active Directory domain. Cells in the “WS2019 DC” columns are also highlighted when they differ from the corresponding cells in the “WS2019 Member Server” column. Another change from past spreadsheets is that we have combined tabs that used to be separate. Specifically, we are no longer breaking out Internet Explorer and Windows Defender AV settings into separate tabs, nor the settings for LAPS, MS Security Guide, and MSS (Legacy). All these settings are now in the Computer and User tabs.
  • BaselineDiffs-to-v1809-RS5-DRAFT.xlsx – This Policy Analyzer-generated workbook lists the differences in Microsoft security configuration baselines between the new baselines and the corresponding previous baselines. The Windows 10 v1809 settings are compared against those for Windows 10 v1803, and the Windows Server 2019 baselines are compared against those for Windows Server 2016.
  • Windows 10 1803 to 1809 New Settings.xlsx – Lists all the settings that are available in Windows 10 v1809 that were added since Windows 10 v1803. (We used to highlight these settings in the big all-settings spreadsheets.)
  • Server 2016 to 2019 New Settings.xlsx – Lists all the settings that are available in Windows Server 2019 that were added since Windows Server 2016. (We used to highlight these settings in the big all-settings spreadsheets.)

Highlights of the differences from past baselines, which are listed in BaselineDiffs-to-v1809-RS5-DRAFT.xlsx:

  • The MS Security Guide custom setting protecting against potentially unwanted applications (PUA) has been deprecated, and is now implemented with a new setting under Computer Configuration\...\Windows Defender Antivirus.
  • We have enabled the “Encryption Oracle Remediation” setting we had considered for v1803. At the time we were concerned that enabling the newly-introduced setting would break too many not-yet-patched systems. We assume that systems have since been brought up to date. (You can read information about the setting hereand here.)
  • Changes to Virtualization-Based Security settings (used by Credential Guard and Code Integrity):
    • “Platform Security Level” changed from “Secure Boot and DMA Protection” to “Secure Boot.” If system hardware doesn’t support DMA protection, selecting “Secure Boot and DMA Protection” prevents Credential Guard from operating. If you can affirm that your systems support the DMA protection feature, choose the stronger option. We have opted for “Secure Boot” (only) in the baseline to reduce the likelihood that Credential Guard fails to run.
    • Enabled the new System Guard Secure Launch setting which will enable Secure Launch on new capable hardware. Secure Launch changes the way windows boots to use Intel Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) and Runtime BIOS Resilience features to prevent firmware exploits from being able to impact the security of the Windows Virtualization Based Security environment.
    • Enabled the “Require UEFI Memory Attributes Table” option.
  • Enabled the new Kernel DMA Protection feature described here. The “External device enumeration” policy controls whether to enumerate external devices that are not compatible with DMA-remapping. Devices that are compatible with DMA-remapping are always enumerated.
  • Removed the BitLocker setting, “Allow Secure Boot for integrity validation,” as it merely enforced a default that was unlikely to be modified even by a misguided administrator.
  • Removed the BitLocker setting, “Configure minimum PIN length for startup,” as new hardware features reduce the need for a startup PIN, and the setting increased Windows’ minimum by only one character.
  • Enabled the new Microsoft Edge setting to prevent users from bypassing certificate error messages, bringing Edge in line with a similar setting for Internet Explorer.
  • Removed the block against handling PKU2U authentication requests, as the feature is increasingly necessary.
  • Removed the configuration of the “Create symbolic links” user rights assignment, as it merely enforced a default, was unlikely to be modified by a misguided administrator or for malicious purposes, and needs to be changed to a different value when Hyper-V is enabled.
  • Removed the deny-logon restrictions against the Guests group as unnecessary: by default, the Guest account is the only member of the Guests group, and the Guest account is disabled. Only an administrator can enable the Guest account or add members to the Guests group.
  • Removed the disabling of the xbgm (“Xbox Game Monitoring”) service, as it is not present in Windows 10 v1809. (By the way, consumer services such as the Xbox services have been removed from Windows Server 2019 with Desktop Experience!)
  • Removed Credential Guard from the Domain Controller baseline. (Credential Guard is not useful on domain controllers and is not supported there.)
  • Created and enabled a new custom MS Security Guide setting for the domain controller baseline, “Extended Protection for LDAP Authentication (Domain Controllers only),” which configures the LdapEnforceChannelBinding registry value described here.
  • The Server 2019 baselines pick up all the changes accumulated in the four Windows 10 releases since Windows Server 2016.

We have replaced the collection of .cmd batch files for applying the baselines to local policy with a single PowerShell script that takes one of these five command-line switches to indicate which baseline you want to apply:

.\BaselineLocalInstall.ps1 -Win10DomainJoined      - for Windows 10 v1809, domain-joined
.\BaselineLocalInstall.ps1 -Win10NonDomainJoined   - for Windows 10 v1809, non-domain-joined
.\BaselineLocalInstall.ps1 -WS2019Member           - for Windows Server 2019, domain-joined
.\BaselineLocalInstall.ps1 -WS2019NonDomainJoined  - for Windows Server 2019, non-domain-joined
.\BaselineLocalInstall.ps1 -WS2019DomainController - for Windows Server 2019, domain controller

A couple of important notes about using the BaselineLocalInstall.ps1 script:

  • PowerShell execution policy must be configured to allow script execution. You can configure this with a command line such as the following:
    Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned
  • LGPO.exe must be in the Tools subdirectory or somewhere in the Path. LGPO.exe is part of the Security Compliance Toolkit and can be downloaded from this URL:

Windows 10 v1809 has greatly expanded its manageability using Mobile Device Management (MDM). The Intune team is preparing documentation about the Microsoft Windows MDM security baseline and how to use Intune to implement the baseline, and will publish it very soon. We will post information to this blog when that happens.

Comments (4)
  1. RAJU2529 says:

    I love this article , it gives more details and good explanation .
    Thanks for the author for giving information with details .
    please release “dmaguard.admx” and “dmaguard.adml” in coming weeks , i am using currently windows 10 1803 entreprise , but i could not able to find above files to modify group policy editor ,

    [Aaron Margosis] The Administrative Templates package usually ships within a few weeks after release. In the meantime, you can install Win10 v1809 and copy out the windir\PolicyDefinitions directory to another system. For Policy Analyzer, I’ve maintained a directory with subdirectories for each of several product versions, and I can point Policy Analyzer to any of those PolicyDefinition directories to view GPOs through the lens of those versions.
  2. RAJU2529 says:

    Where i can download the all administrative templates for 1809 for english version , please share the link

    [Aaron Margosis] The Administrative Templates package usually ships within a few weeks after release. In the meantime, you can install Win10 v1809 and copy out the windir\PolicyDefinitions directory to another system.
  3. The Steve_N says:

    Hi Aaron,
    Great work from you and the team, as always, to get these draft baselines out in good time with the release. So far I’ve looked at the changes to VBS/Credential Guard;
    Regarding the move to the ‘secure boot only’ platform security level, there is a doc which leads us to believe that DMA protection is enabled with this lower setting but the Microsoft-Windows-DeviceGuard/Operational event log shows DMA protection is disabled when moving to this setting where previously it was enabled. Is the latter how you understand it as you imply in your announcement (If you can affirm that your systems support the DMA protection feature, choose the stronger option.).
    Regarding ‘Removed Credential Guard from the Domain Controller baseline’ aka renaming the ‘Credential Guard’ policy to indicate it’s only for clients and member servers, not having the Credential Guard policy on domain controllers also removes ‘Virtualization Based Protection of Code Integrity’ which is supported. Is the intention to update the ‘Domain Controller Baseline’ policy to enabled the supported settings? Also if the previous Credential Guard policy was used on Domain Controllers the same GPO needs to be used to disable these UEFI locked settings before settings can be migrated to a new policy.

  4. Aaron,
    Are these new baselines *only* for Windows 10 1809 and Server 2019 OR do they supersede previous baseline versions and also apply to Windows 10 1709+ and Server 2012+?

    [Aaron Margosis] We generally don’t have the resources available to revisit and update older baselines. If we were able to and could fully validate the changes, then most if not all of the changes would be backported. There are some cases, though, where they wouldn’t. For example, the mitigations that allowed us to remove the restrictions on IE using downloaded fonts in the Internet zone exist only on Windows 10, so those restrictions need to remain in place for IE on Win7, 8.1, and corresponding Servers.

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content