MBAM

Backing up Recovery Keys to MBAM and AD During OSD

Scenario

As we prepared for our Windows 10 roll out, we had MBAM all setup and ready to go when a wise man suggested we backup the keys to AD too.  I was a little perplexed: In my mind this is redundant since that’s what MBAM is supposed to do.  Can’t we just trust MBAM to do its thing?  But then the same wise man dropped a statement that I totally agreed with:

“I don’t want to be the one to have to explain to our CIO that we have no way of unlocking some VIP’s machine.”

Neither did I.

Here’s a high level overview of how we setup MBAM during OSD.
It’s not the best way and it’s not the only way.  It’s just a way.

Prerequisites:

  1. Export your BitLocker registry settings from a properly configured machine
  2. Edit the export, set the ‘ClientWakeupFrequency‘ to something low like 5 minutes
  3. Edit the export, set the ‘StatusReportingFrequency‘ to something low like 10 minutes
  4. Package up the .REG file as part of your MBAM client installation
    • This could either be a true Package, but I would recommend an Application that runs a wrapper to import the registry configuration; or create an MST; or add it to the original MSI.

Task Sequence Setup

  1. Wait until the machine is in real Windows, not WinPE
  2. Install the MBAM client (obviously!)
  3. Reboot
  4. Stop the MBAM service – We need to do this so that the settings we make below take effect
  5. Set the MBAM service to start automatically without delay – Want to make sure it fires as soon as possible.
  6. Import your BitLocker registry settings you exported & edited
    • This is the real meat: Since GPO’s are not applied during OSD, your GPO policies won’t reach the machine during the imaging process.  This will ensure your policies are in play as soon as possible.
    • Most places don’t set the  ‘ClientWakeupFrequency‘ and/or ‘StatusReportingFrequency‘ values to something insanely low via GPO which is why we manually edited the .REG file.  If you left them at the default values, the keys wouldn’t get escrowed for a few hours due to the way the MBAM client works.
  7. Optional but Recommended: Switch to AES-XTS-256 by setting ‘EncryptionMethodWithXtsOs‘ in ‘HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\FVE‘ to ‘7
  8. Start the MBAM service
  9. Enable BitLocker using the MBAM Deployment Scripts
  10. Reboot the machine
  11. Continue with your normal imaging process

The Good

  • We’ve not run into machines with improper configurations.
  • Every machine is encrypted using
    • full disk encryption versus used space
    • leverages AES-XTS-256
  • Keys are quickly escrowed to both AD and MBAM.
  • It just works: Deployed with 1511, we’re moving to 1607 and IT is testing 1703.

The Bad

  • I couldn’t figure out how to perform full disk AES-XTS-256 encryption in WinPE so this has to happen when we’re in a real OS.
    • I tried setting the keys via the registry but didn’t bother editing WSF files or trying to reverse engineer what goes on in that step to see if I could make it work.
  • Encryption does NOT begin until after someone logs on.
  • Encryption takes a while (but not too long) on SSDs.

In Closing

I would really like to hear from others on this one.  Because it was – and has been working for a over a year now – we really couldn’t justify dedicating bandwidth to exploring this further.  So we left it as-is.  My brain would like to see it work ‘properly’ one day, but that’ll have to wait.

Good Providence to you!

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