2.3.8.1 Ensure 'Microsoft network client: Digitally sign communications (always)' is set to 'Enabled'

Information

This policy setting determines whether packet signing is required by the SMB client component.

Note: When Windows Vista-based computers have this policy setting enabled and they connect to file or print shares on remote servers, it is important that the setting is synchronized with its companion setting, Microsoft network server: Digitally sign communications (always), on those servers. For more information about these settings, see the 'Microsoft network client and server: Digitally sign communications (four related settings)' section in Chapter 5 of the Threats and Countermeasures guide.

The recommended state for this setting is: Enabled.

Rationale:

Session hijacking uses tools that allow attackers who have access to the same network as the client or server to interrupt, end, or steal a session in progress. Attackers can potentially intercept and modify unsigned SMB packets and then modify the traffic and forward it so that the server might perform undesirable actions. Alternatively, the attacker could pose as the server or client after legitimate authentication and gain unauthorized access to data.

SMB is the resource sharing protocol that is supported by many Windows operating systems. It is the basis of NetBIOS and many other protocols. SMB signatures authenticate both users and the servers that host the data. If either side fails the authentication process, data transmission will not take place.

Impact:

The Microsoft network client will not communicate with a Microsoft network server unless that server agrees to perform SMB packet signing.

The Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP Professional and Windows Vista implementations of the SMB file and print sharing protocol support mutual authentication, which prevents session hijacking attacks and supports message authentication to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks. SMB signing provides this authentication by placing a digital signature into each SMB, which is then verified by both the client and the server.

Implementation of SMB signing may negatively affect performance, because each packet needs to be signed and verified. If these settings are enabled on a server that is performing multiple roles, such as a small business server that is serving as a Domain Controller, file server, print server, and application server performance may be substantially slowed. Additionally, if you configure computers to ignore all unsigned SMB communications, older applications and operating systems will not be able to connect. However, if you completely disable all SMB signing, computers will be vulnerable to session hijacking attacks.

When SMB signing policies are enabled on Domain Controllers running Windows Server 2003 and member computers running Windows Vista SP1 or Windows Server 2008 group policy processing will fail. A hotfix is available from Microsoft that resolves this issue; see Microsoft Knowledge Base article 950876 for more details: Group Policy settings are not applied on member computers that are running Windows Server 2008 or Windows Vista SP1 when certain SMB signing policies are enabled.

Solution

To establish the recommended configuration, set the following Device Configuration Policy to Enabled

To access the Device Configuration Policy from the Intune Home page:

Click Devices

Click Configuration profiles

Click Create profile

Select the platform (Windows 10 and later)

Select the profile (Endpoint protection)

Click Create

Enter a Name

Click Next

Configure the following Setting

Path: Endpoint protection/Local device security options/Microsoft Network Client
Setting Name: Digitally sign communications (always)
Configuration: Enable

Select OK

Continue through the Wizard to complete the creation of the profile (profile assignments, applicability etc.)

Note: More than one configuration setting from each of the Configuration profiles (ex: Administrative Templates, Custom etc.) can be added to each Device Configuration Policy.

Note #2: This setting can also be created via a Custom Configuration Profile using the following OMA-URI:

Name: <Enter name>
Description: <Enter Description>
OMA-URI: ./Device/Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/LocalPoliciesSecurityOptions/MicrosoftNetworkClient_DigitallySignCommunicationsAlways
Data type: Integer
Value: 1

Default Value:

Disabled. (SMB packet signing is negotiated between the client and server.)

See Also

https://workbench.cisecurity.org/files/4291

Item Details

Category: ACCESS CONTROL, IDENTIFICATION AND AUTHENTICATION, SYSTEM AND COMMUNICATIONS PROTECTION

References: 800-53|AC-17(2), 800-53|IA-5, 800-53|IA-5(1), 800-53|SC-8, 800-53|SC-8(1)

Plugin: Windows

Control ID: ac09fe7da804255d81049fa954715b4952a25384298e021a9bbd32f181bd1218