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Isolating Windows Store Apps on Your Network

Published: March 8, 2012

Updated: August 23, 2012

Applies To: Windows Server 2012



When you add new computers and devices that are running Windows 8 to your network, you may want to customize your Windows Firewall configuration to isolate the network access of the new Windows Store apps that run on them. Developers who build Windows Store apps can declare certain app capabilities that enable different classes of network access. A developer can decide what kind of network access the app requires and configure this capability for the app. When the app is installed on a computer running Windows 8, appropriate firewall rules are automatically created to enable access. Administrators can then customize the firewall configuration to further fine-tune this access if they desire more control over the network access for the app.

For example, a developer can decide that their app should only connect to trusted local networks (such as at home or work), and not to the Internet. In this way, developers can define the scope of network access for their app. This network isolation prevents an app from accessing a network and a connection type (inbound or outbound) if the connection has not been configured for the app. Then the network administrator can customize the firewall to further restrict the resources that the app can access.

The ability to set and enforce these network boundaries ensures that apps that get compromised can only access networks where they have been explicitly granted access. This significantly reduces the scope of their impact on other apps, the computer, and the network. In addition, apps can be isolated and protected from malicious access from the network.

When creating new Windows Store apps, a developer can define the following network capabilities for their app:

  • Home\Work Networking

    Provides inbound and outbound access to intranet networks that the user has designated as a home or a work network, or if the network has an authenticated domain controller.

  • Internet (Client)

    Provides outbound access to the Internet and untrusted networks, such as airports and coffee shops (for example, intranet networks where the user has designated the network as Public). Most apps that require Internet access should use this capability.

  • Internet (Client and Server)

    Provides inbound and outbound access to the Internet and untrusted networks, such as airports and coffee shops. This capability is a superset of the Internet (Client) capability, and Internet (Client) does not need to be enabled if this capability is enabled.

  • Proximity

    Provides near-field communication (NFC) with devices that are in close proximity to the computer. Proximity may be used to send files or connect with an application on a proximate device.

In this document

To isolate Windows Store apps on your network, you need to use Group Policy to define your network isolation settings and create custom Windows Store app firewall rules.

  • A domain controller is installed on your network, and your computers are joined to the Windows domain.

  • Your Windows Store app is installed on your client computer.

  • The Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) are installed on your client computer. When you perform the following steps from your client computer, you can select your Windows Store app when you create Windows Firewall rules.

    noteNote
    You can install the RSAT on your computer running Windows 8 from the Microsoft Download Center.

The Home\Work Networking capability enables access to intranet resources. Administrators can use Group Policy settings to define the scope of the intranet. This ensures that Windows Store apps can access intranet resources appropriately.

The Windows Store Internet Explorer app that is included with Windows 8 uses the network capabilities to detect which zone it should use. The browser uses the network capabilities to ensure that it operates in the correct security zone.

A network endpoint is considered part of the Home\Work Network if:

  • It is part of the local subnet of a trusted network.

    For example, home users generally flag their network as Trusted. Local computers will be designated as such.

  • A computer is on a network, and it is authenticated to a domain controller.

    • Endpoints within the intranet address space are considered private.

    • Endpoints within the local subnet are considered private.

  • The computer is configured for DirectAccess, and the endpoint is part of the intranet address space.

The intranet address space is composed of configured Active Directory sites and subnets, and it is configured for Windows network isolation specifically by using Group Policy. You can disable the usage of Active Directory sites and subnets by using Group Policy by declaring that your subnet definitions are authoritative.

Any proxies that you configure or that are automatically configured with proxy autoconfiguration (by using Web Proxy Auto-Discovery (WPAD) protocol) are exempt from the intranet zone. You can add proxy addresses by using Group Policy.

All other endpoints that do not meet the previously stated criteria are considered endpoints on the Internet.

  1. Open the Group Policy Management snap-in (gpmc.msc) and edit the Default Domain Policy.

  2. From the Group Policy Management Editor, expand Computer Configuration, expand Policies, expand Administrative Templates, expand Network, and click Network Isolation.

  3. In the right pane, double-click Private network ranges for apps.

  4. In the Private network ranges for apps dialog box, click Enabled. In the Private subnets text box, type the private subnets for your intranet, separated by commas if necessary.

    For example, if the Contoso intranet is defined as 10.0.0.0 with a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0, you would type 10.0.0.0/24 in the Private subnets text box.

  5. Double-click Subnet definitions are authoritative.

    If you want the subnet definitions that you previously created to be the single source for your subnet definition, click Enabled. Otherwise, leave the Not Configured default so that you can add additional subnets by using local settings or network isolation heuristics.

  1. Double-click Internet proxy servers for apps. Click Enabled, and then in the Domain Proxies text box, type the IP addresses of your Internet proxy servers, separated by semicolons.

  2. Double-click Intranet proxy servers for apps. Click Enabled, and then in the IP address text box, type the IP addresses of your intranet proxy servers, separated by semicolons.

  3. Double-click Proxy definitions are authoritative.

    If you want the proxy definitions that you previously created to be the single source for your proxy definition, click Enabled. Otherwise, leave the Not Configured default so that you can add additional proxies by using local settings or network isolation heuristics.

Windows Store apps can declare many capabilities in addition to the network capabilities discussed previously. For example, apps can declare capabilities to access user identity, the local file system, and certain hardware devices.

The following table provides a complete list of the possible app capabilities.

 

Capability Name Description

Internet (Client)

internetClient

Your outgoing Internet connection.

Internet (Client & Server)

internetClientServer

Your Internet connection, including incoming unsolicited connections from the Internet The app can send information to or from your computer through a firewall. You do not need to declare internetClient if this capability is declared.

Home\Work Networking

privateNetworkClientServer

A home or work network. The app can send information to or from your computer and other computers on the same network.

Document Library Access

documentsLibrary

Your Documents library, including the capability to add, change, or delete files. The package can only access file types that are declared in the manifest. The app cannot access document libraries on HomeGroup computers.

Picture Library Access

picturesLibrary

Your Pictures library, including the capability to add, change, or delete files. This capability also includes Picture libraries on HomeGroup computers and picture file types on locally connected media servers.

Video Library Access

videosLibrary

Your Videos library, including the capability to add, change, or delete files. This capability also includes Video libraries on HomeGroup computers and video file types on locally connected media servers.

Music Library Access

musicLibrary

Your Music library, including the capability to add, change, or delete files. This capability also includes Music libraries on HomeGroup computers and music file types on locally connected media servers.

Default Windows Credentials

defaultWindowsCredentials

Your Windows credentials for access to a corporate intranet. This application can impersonate you on the network.

Removable Storage

removableStorage

A removable storage device, such as an external hard disk, USB flash drive, or MTP portable device, including the capability to add, change, or delete specific files. This package can only access file types that are declared in the manifest.

Shared User Certificates

sharedUserCertificates

Software and hardware certificates or a smart card, which the app uses to identify you. This capability can be used by an employer, a bank, or government services to identify you.

Location

location

Provides access to the user's current location.

Microphone

microphone

Provides access to the microphone's audio feed.

Near-field Proximity

proximity

Required for near-field communication (NFC) between devices in close proximity. NFC can be used to send files or connect with an app on a proximate device.

Text Messaging

sms

Provides access to computer text messaging functionality.

Webcam

webcam

Provides access to the webcam's video feed.

Other devices (represented by GUIDs)

<GUID>

Includes specialized devices and Windows Portable Devices.

In Windows Server 2012, it is possible to create a Windows Firewall policy that is scoped to a set of apps that use a specified capability or scoped to a specific Windows Store app.

For example, you could create a Windows Firewall policy to block Internet access for any apps on your network that have the Documents Library capability.

  1. Open the Group Policy Management snap-in (gpmc.msc).

  2. In the left pane, right-click your domain name and click Create a GPO in this domain, and link it here.

  3. Type a name for the GPO in the Name text box, and then click OK.

  4. Right-click the new GPO, and then click Edit.

  5. In the Group Policy Management Editor, expand Computer Configuration, expand Policies, expand Windows Settings, expand Security Settings, expand Windows Firewall with Advanced Security, and click Windows Firewall with Advanced Security – LDAP://…

  6. Right-click Outbound Rules, and then click New Rule.

  7. Click Custom, and then click Next.

  8. Click Next on the Program page, the Protocols and Ports page, and the Scope page.

  9. On the Action page, ensure that Block the Connection is selected, and then click Next.

  10. On the Profile page, click Next.

  11. On the Name page, type a name for your rule, and then click Finish.

  12. In the right pane, right-click your new rule and click Properties.

  13. Click the Local Principals tab, select the Only allow connections from these users check box, and then click Add.

  14. Click Application Package Properties, and then click OK.

  15. In the Choose Capabilities dialog box, click APPLICATION PACKAGE AUTHORITY\Your documents library, and then click OK.

  16. Click the Scope tab under Remote IP addresses, and then click Add.

  17. Click Predefined set of computers, select Internet, and click OK.

    This scopes the rule to block traffic to Internet computers.

  18. Click the Programs and Services tab, and in the Application Packages area, click Settings.

  19. Click Apply to application packages only, and then click OK.

    ImportantImportant
    You must do this to ensure that the rule applies only to Windows Store apps and not to other applications and programs. Non-Windows Store applications and programs declare all capabilities by default, and this rule would apply to them if you do not configure it this way.

  20. Click OK to close the Properties dialog box.

  21. Close the Group Policy Management Editor.

  22. In the Group Policy Management snap-in, ensure that your new GPO is selected, and in the right pane under Security Filtering, select Authenticated Users. Click Remove, and then click OK.

  23. Under Security Filtering, click Add.

  24. Type domain computers in the text box, and then click OK.

  25. Close the Group Policy Management snap-in.

Use the following procedure if you want to block intranet access for a specific media sharing app on your network.

  1. Open the Group Policy Management snap-in (gpmc.msc).

  2. In the left pane, right-click your domain name, and then click Create a GPO in this domain, and link it here.

  3. Type a name for your GPO in the Name text box, and then click OK.

  4. Right-click your new GPO, and then click Edit.

  5. From the Group Policy Management Editor, expand Computer Configuration, expand Policies, expand Windows Settings, expand Security Settings, expand Windows Firewall with Advanced Security, and then click Windows Firewall with Advanced Security – LDAP://

  6. Right-click Outbound Rules, and then click New Rule.

  7. Click Custom, and then click Next.

  8. Click Next on the Program page, the Protocols and Ports page, and the Scope page.

  9. On the Action page, ensure Block the Connection is selected, and then click Next.

  10. On the Profile page, click Next.

  11. On the Name page, type a name for your rule, and then click Finish.

  12. In the right pane, right-click your new rule, and then click Properties.

  13. Click the Local Principals tab, select the Only allow connections from these users check box, and then click Add.

  14. Click Application Package Properties, and then click OK.

  15. In the Choose Capabilities dialog box, click APPLICATION PACKAGE AUTHORITY\A home or work network, and then click OK.

  16. Click the Programs and Services tab under Application Packages, and then click Settings.

  17. Click Apply to this application package, select the app in the text box, and then click OK.

  18. Click OK to close the Properties dialog box.

  19. Close the Group Policy Management Editor.

  20. In Group Policy Management, ensure that your new GPO is selected, and in the right pane under Security Filtering, select Authenticated Users, click Remove, and then click OK.

  21. Under Security Filtering, click Add.

  22. Type domain computers in the text box and click OK.

  23. Close Group Policy Management.

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