By Sergiu Gatlan and Azure Security News
The new Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) Web Content Filtering feature will be provided for free to all enterprise customers without the need for an additional partner license.
Web Content Filtering is part of Microsoft Defender ATP’s Web protection capabilities and it allows security admins to design and deploy custom web usage policies across their entire organizations, making it simple to track and control access to websites based on their content category.
The feature is available on all major web browsers, with blocks performed by Network Protection (on Chrome and Firefox) and SmartScreen (on Edge).
Following feedback from customers during the public preview announced in late January, Microsoft has decided to offer web content filtering “as part of Microsoft Defender ATP without any additional partner licensing.”
“Now you get the benefits of web content filtering without the need for additional agents, hardware, and costs,” Microsoft today announced in a blog post.
Among the benefits of the new web content filtering capability, Microsoft says that:
- Users are prevented from accessing websites in blocked categories, whether they are browsing on-premises or away
- You can conveniently deploy varied policies to various sets of users using the device groups defined in the Microsoft Defender ATP role-based access control settings
- You can access web reports in the same central location, with visibility over actual blocks and web usage
“For instance, you could set a policy to block ‘adult content sites’ across all of your machine groups, and create a separate policy to block ‘high bandwidth sites’ on just a few machine groups,” Microsoft explained in the initial announcement.
“Any category that is not being blocked will still have access information collected from them that you can view in the reports.”
Web content filtering will remain in public preview for the time being, with customers who have preview features enabled immediately having access to the feature in Microsoft Defender ATP today.
Web content filtering policies will be re-activated and will continue to work for customers who have already joined in on the public preview since the January announcement (with expired 60-day trials or active 60-day trials).
If you just decided to give it a try, to turn on web content filtering you have to open the Microsoft Defender Security Center portal, got to Settings > General > Advanced Features on the left-hand navigation menu, scroll down to the Web content filtering entry, toggle it on, and hit the Save button.
Then, you have to go to Reports > Web reports and then click “Connect to partner” on the lower card to start a public preview trial.
Starting July 2, Microsoft Defender ATP also provides the ability to assess the collective security configuration state of devices on an enterprise network using another new feature dubbed Microsoft Secure Score for Devices.
Microsoft Defender ATP has also expanded to non-Windows platforms, now being generally available for enterprise users with Linux devices and in public preview for customers using Android devices.