Updating your Mobile Devices against Meltdown and Spectre with Intune

Nicolas PilonEMS, IntuneLeave a Comment


Everyone has heard of Meltdown, and Spectre vulnerabilities in modern computers leak passwords and sensitive data. In case you don’t, the most important thing to remember is to update all devices that mainly have an Intel processor, including mobile devices. If you are using Microsoft Intune to manage mobile devices in your organization, you can configure compliant rules to force the users to update their operating system version.

For those who want to keep their old OS version, will lose their access to Office 365 at one point. It’s essential that employees know the importance of updating their devices more often, without being enforced. On the other hand, updating OS means some types of the device won’t be supported anymore. In case your company accepts BYOD, some users will require purchasing a new mobile device. In the end, securing your endpoints is more important.

In this post, we will use the Meltdown and Specter vulnerabilities with iOS platform. The iOS version that resolves Meltdown and Specter vulnerabilities are 11.2.5, to further protect against Spectre exploits. Take note that this guide can be useful for future breach, other supported platforms, and the new versions as well.

Intune App Protection (Warning)

There are two ways to enforce a minimum iOS version, the first is enabling a warning message on each connectivity to an app, and giving the users a grace period to update their devices or, the second, quite simply blocking access to Office 365 right away.

Using Intune App Protection allows IT to send a warning message to the devices and keeping access to company data. This popup will appear each time the users will connect to a company app, like Outlook. This technique slightly eases productivity and don’t affect user experience. At this stage, it’s not mandatory to be enrolled in Intune.

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

  • Click on Add a policy and enter the name of the policy iOS Minimum Version 11.2.5
  • iOS
  • Select Apps blade and select all applications from the list
  • Once you finish, click on Select

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

  • Click on Settings blade and scroll down in the right section till you see Require minimum iOS operating system (Warning Only)
  • Select Yes and enter the version you want to enforce. In our example, is 11.2.5
  • Click on Ok and select Pin to Dashboard if you want to see the statistics of this policy in your Azure Dashboard.

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

The policy is completed, it’s now the time to deploy the policy to an AAD group.

  • Select the policy you just created.

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

  • In the Assignments node, you include the group of people you want to target
  • Make sure you are on the Include tab and select groups to include
[su_note note_color=”#eec7bc” radius=”8″]Tips: Test your policy with colleagues before deploying at large.[/su_note]

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

  • Find the AAD group you want to target and click Select

Under those circumstances, expect the users to get this kind of warning message if they are not compliant. It won’t affect access, and the user can continue working by clicking Ok.

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

The good thing about sending a message to user’s device is they are not losing productivity and can manage to upgrade their devices during off-hours with personal wifi. The sad thing is the breach still there. What you can do is giving few days (3-7) grace period, and once it’s over, kill the switch.

Intune App Protection (Block)

In order to block access to mainly Office 365 app, you can still use Intune App Protection. At this stage, it’s not mandatory to be enrolled in Intune.

  • Return to Policy Settings blade of your policy and disable the warning message
  • Enable Require minimum iOS operating system and enter 11.2.5

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

Now, if the user still has not updated their mobile device, their access will be blocked and this message will be displayed.

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

There are only 2 options, Remove Account or Go Back.

Compliance Policy State with Conditional Access (Block)

Unfortunately, the next step is to protect access to your company’s data by using Conditional Access. Business data is precious nowadays, and breaches are expensive for businesses. That’s the reason why it’s essential to make sure your mobile devices comply with security policies.

With Microsoft Intune, you can configure a device compliance policy that enforces a required minimum operating system version. Assign that policy to users by using AAD groups. Overall, using conditional access is more efficient than only Intune App Protection.

  • To configure a compliance policy, navigate to https://portal.azure.com then click on Intune blade and Device Compliance

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

  • Click on Policies and Create Policy

Intune enforce iOS version

  • You will arrive at the Create Policy properties, enter a policy name like iOS Minimum Operating System Version
  • You can add a description of your policy, it’s not a mandatory field
  • Choose the Platform, in our case, is iOS
  • Click on Settings – Device Properties and in the Minimum OS version field, enter the version you want to enforce 11.2.5
  • Select Ok, OK and Create

Intune enforce iOS version

  • Once the policy is created, click Assignments blade to deploy the policy to users.

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

  • The Assignment properties, click on Select groups to include, select your specific group and click Select to confirm
  • You can also select the option All Users by clicking on Selected Groups

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

  • In conclusion, you click Save when you’ve finished with the assignment
[su_note note_color=”#eec7bc” radius=”8″]Tips: Test your policy with colleagues before deploying at large.[/su_note]

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

The configuration of the device compliance policy is completed and assigned to users. We are now ready to configure the conditional access to make sure all users that will try to access company data from not compliant devices, will be blocked.

  • Click on the Conditional Access in Microsoft Intune blade or from Azure Active Directory blade, select Policies, and New Policy to create a new conditional access policy

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

  • The first thing you need to do is giving a name to your policy
  • From the Assignments section, click on Users and groups and select your specific groups or All users
  • Once it’s completed, click on Select and Done

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

  • In the Assignments section, click on Cloud Apps and select All cloud apps or a specific app
  • Click Done

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

  • Still, in the Assignments section, click on Conditions blade and Device Platforms
  • Enable the settings by clicking on Yes just beside Configure
  • In the Include tab, select iOS
  • Click Done and Done

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

  • In the Access Controls section, click on Grant blade
  • Select Grant access option and click checkbox Require device to be marked as compliant
  • Click Select

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

  • Enable the policy and click on Create

Now that the conditional access rule and device compliance is configured, once the users start to authenticate to some applications from their mobile devices, they will start to receive this kind of message.

Not Enrolled in Intune

If your mobile device is not enrolled in Intune, you will get this message.

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

Click on Enroll and follow the step to enroll the device in Intune.

Not Compliant

If your mobile device is enrolled in Intune but not compliant, you will get this message.

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

A good way to see why your device is not compliant is to open the Company Portal app and do a compliance check.

Intune iOS Meltdown Spectre

At this point, the only option you have is updating your operating system before thinking of connecting to the company apps.

If you want to monitor Spectre and Meltdown vulnerability on workstations using SCCM, you can take a look at this post.

Good luck!

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