Defender EASM – Performing a Successful Proof of Concept (PoC)

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: New blog articles in Microsoft Community Hub.

Welcome to an introduction of the concepts and simple approach required for executing a successful Proof of Concept (PoC) for Microsoft Defender External Attack Surface Management (Defender EASM). This article will serve as a high-level guide to help you execute a simple framework for evaluating Defender EASM, and other items to consider when embarking on the journey to understand the Internet exposed digital assets that comprise your external attack surface, so you can view risks through the same lens as a malicious threat actor.


Planning for the PoC 

To ensure success, the first step is planning. This entails understanding the value of Defender EASM, identifying stakeholders who need to be involved, and scheduling planning sessions to determine use cases & requirements and scope before beginning

For example, one of the core benefits of the Defender EASM solution is that it provides high value visibility to Security and IT (Information Technology) teams that enables them to: 

  • Identify previously unknown assets 
  • Prioritize risk 
  • Eliminate threats 
  • Extends vulnerability and exposure control beyond the firewall 

Next, you should identify all relevant stakeholders, or personas, and schedule in 1-2 short planning sessions to document the tasks and expected outcomes, or requirements. These sessions will establish the definition of success for the PoC.  

Who are the common stakeholders that should participate in the initial planning sessions? The answer to that question will be unique to each organization, but some common personas include the following: 

  • Vulnerability Management Teams 
  • IT personnel responsible for Configuration Management, Patching, Asset Inventory Databases 
  • Governance, Risk, & Compliance (GRC) Teams 
  • (Optional) GRC aligned Legal, Brand Protection, & Privacy Teams 
  • Internal Offensive Penetration Testing and Red Teams 
  • Security Operations Teams 
  • Incident Response Teams 
  • Cyber Threat Intelligence, Hunting, and Research Teams 


Use Cases & Requirements 

Based on the scope, you can begin collaborating with the correct people to establish use cases & requirements to meet the business goals for the PoC. The requirements should clearly define the subcomponents of the overarching business goals within the charter of your External Attack Surface Management Program. Examples of business goals and high-level supporting requirements might include: 

  • Discover Uknown Assets 
  • Find Shadow IT 
  • Discover Abandoned Assets 
  • Resulting from Mergers, Acquistions, or Divestitures 
  • Insufficient Asset Lifecycle Management in Dev/Test/QA Environments  
  • Identification of Vulnerabilities 
  • Lack of Patching or Configuration Management 
  • Assignment of Ownership to Assets 
  • Line of Business or Subsidiary 
  • Based on Geographic Location 
  • On-Prem vs Cloud 
  • Reporting, Automation, and Defender EASM Data Integrations 
  • Use of a reporting or visualization tool, such as PowerBI 
  • Logic Apps to automate management of elements of your attack surface 


Prerequisites to Exit the Planning Phase 

  • Completion of the Planning Phase! 
  • Configure an Azure Active Directory or personal Microsoft account. Login or create an account here. 
  • Set up a Free 30-day Defender EASM Trial 

- Visit the following link for information related to setting up your Defender EASM attack surface today for free. 

  • Deploy & Access the Defender EASM Platform 

- Login to Defender EASM 

- Follow the deployment Quick Start Guide 


Measuring Success?

Determining how success will establish the criteria for a successful or failed PoC. Success and Acceptance Criteria should be established for each requirement identified. Weights may be applied to requirements, but measuring success can be as simple as writing out criteria as below:


Requirement: Custom Reporting

Success Criteria: As a vulnerability manager, I want to view a daily report that shows the assets with CVSSv2 and CVSSv3 scores of 10.

Acceptance Criteria:

  • Data must be exported to Kusto
  • Data must contain assets & CVSS (Common Vulnerability Scoring System) scores
  • Dashboards must be created with PowerBI and accessible to user
  • Dashboard data must be updated daily

Validation: Run a test to validate that acceptance criteria has been met.

Pass / Fail: Pass


Executing the PoC 


Implementation and Technical Validation 

We will now look at five different use cases & requirements, define the success and acceptance criteria for each, and validate that the requirements are met by observing the outcome of each in Defender EASM. 


Use Case 1: Discover Unknown Assets, Finding Shadow IT 


Success Criteria: As a member of the Contoso GRC team, I want to identify Domain assets in our attack surface that have not been registered with the official company email address we use for domain registrations.


Acceptance Criteria: 

  • Defender EASM allows for searches of Domain WHOIS data that returns the “Registrant Email” field in the result set.  


  1. Click the “Inventory” link on the left of the main Defender EASM page. 


Figure: Launch the inventory query screen

  1. Execute a search in Defender EASM that excludes Domains registered with our official company email address of ‘’ and returns all other Domains that have been registered with an email address that contains the email domain ‘’.


Figure: Query for incorrectly registered Domain assets


  1. Click on one of the domains in the result set to view asset details. For example, “” domain.
  2. When the asset details open and confirm that the domain ‘’ is in the upper left corner.
  3. Click on the “Whois” tab.
  4. Note that this Domain asset has been registered with an email address that does not match the corporate standard (i.e., “”) and should be investigated for the existence of Shadow IT.


Figure: WHOIS asset details



Use Case 2: Abandoned Assets, Acquisitions


Success Criteria: As a member of the Contoso Vulnerability Management team, who just acquired Woodgrove Bank, I want to ensure acquired web sites using the domain “” are redirected to web sites using the domain “”.  I need to obtain results of web sites that are not redirecting as expected, as those may be abandoned web sites.


Acceptance Criteria:

  • Defender EASM allows for search of specific initial and final HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) response codes for Page assets
  • Defender EASM allows for search of initial and final Uniform Resource Locator (URL) for Page assets


  1. Run a search in Defender EASM that looks for Page assets that have:
    1. Initial response codes that cause HTTP redirects (i.e., “301”, “302”)
    2. Initial URLs that contain “”
    3. Final HTTP response codes of “200”
    4. Final URL, post HTTP redirect, that do not contain “”


Figure: Query for incorrect page redirection


  1. Click one of the Page assets in the result set to see the asset details.


Figure: Page asset overview

  1. Validate:
    1.  Initial URL contains “”
    2. Initial response code is either “301” or “301”
    3. Final URL does not contain “”
    4. Final response code is “200”




Use Case 3: Identification of Vulnerabilities, Lack of Patching or Configuration Management


Success Criteria: As a member of the Contoso Vulnerability Management team, I need the ability to retrieve a list of assets with high priority vulnerabilities and remediation guidance in my attack surface.


Acceptance Criteria:

  • Defender EASM provides a dashboard of prioritized risks in my external attack surface
  • Defender EASM provides remediation guidance for each prioritized vulnerability
  • Defender EASM provides an exportable list of assets impacted by vulnerability



  1. From the main Defender EASM page, click “Attack Surface Summary” to view the “Attack Surface Summary” dashboard
  2. Click the link that indicates the number of assets impacted by a specific vulnerability to view a list of impacted assets



Figure: Attack Surface Insights Dashboard


  1. Validate that Defender EASM provides additional information about vulnerabilities and remediation guidance.
  2. Click the link in the upper right corner titled “Download CSV report” and validate the contents within



Figure: Vulnerability remediation details




Use Case 4: Assignment of Ownership to Assets, Line of Business or Subsidiary


Success Criteria: As a member of the Contoso GRC team, I need the ability to assign ownership of assets to specific business units through, along with a mechanism to quickly visualize this relationship.


Acceptance Criteria:

  • Defender EASM provides an approach to assigning ownership via labels
  • Defender EASM allows users to apply labels to assets that meet specific indicators that indicate affiliation with a specific business unit
  • Defender EASM provides the ability to apply labels in bulk



  1. Click the “Inventory” link on the left of the main Defender EASM page to launch the search screen
  2. Run a search that returns all Page assets that are on the IP Block “”. The Page assets on this network all belong to the Financial Services line of business, so it is the only indicator of ownership needed in this example.



Figure: Query to determine Page asset ownership by IP Block


  1. Select all assets in the result set by clicking the arrow to the right of the checkbox as shown in the following image and choose the option for all assets.


Figure: Selecting assets for bulk modification


  1. Click the link to modify assets, followed by the link to “Create a new label” on the blade that appears.
  2. A new screen will appear that allows the creation of a label. Enter a descriptive “Label name”, an optional “Display name”, select a desired color, and click “Add” to finish creating a label.


Figure: Link to modify assets and create a label



Figure: Create label detail


  1. After creating the label, you will be directed back to the screen to modify assets. Validate that the label was created successfully.
  2. Click into the label text box to see a list of labels available to choose from and select the one that was just created.
  3. Click “Update”


Figure: Label selected assets


  1. Click the bell icon to view task notifications to validate the status of labels update.


Figure: View status of label update task


  1. When the task is complete, run the search again to validate that labels have been applied to the assets owned by the Financial Services organization.


Figure: Query to validate labels have been applied to assets




Finishing the PoC


Summarize Your Findings

Identify how the Defender EASM solution has provided increased visibility to your organization’s attack surface in the PoC.

  1. Have you discovered unknown assets related to Shadow IT?
  2. Were you able to find potentially abandoned assets related to an acquisition?
  3. Has your organization been able to better prioritize vulnerabilities to focus on the most severe risks?
  4. Do you know have a better view of asset ownership in your organization?



We would love to hear any ideas you may have to improve our Defender EASM platform or where and how you might use Defender EASM data elsewhere in the Microsoft Security ecosystem or other security 3rd party applications. Please contact us via email at to share any feedback you have regarding Defender EASM.


Interested in Learning About New Defender EASM Features?

 Please join our Microsoft Security Connection Program if you are not a member and follow our Private & Public Preview events. You will not have access to this exclusive Teams channel until you complete the steps to become a Microsoft Security Connection Program member. Users that would like to influence the direction/strategy of our security products are encouraged to participate in our Private Preview events. Members who participate in these events will earn credit for respective Microsoft product badges delivered by Credly.



You now understand how to execute a simple Defender EASM PoC, to include deploying your first Defender EASM resource, identifying common personas, how to set requirements, and measure success. Do not forget! - you can enjoy a free 30-day trial by clicking on the link below.

You can discover your attack surface discovery journey today for free.

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