Microsoft Defender for Identity – Azure ATP Deployment and Troubleshooting

Hi IT Pros,

Recently, I searched the internet and could not find the document for Microsoft Defender for Identity (Azure ) Setup and Troubleshooting. So, I prepared this document for our convenient reference and deployment in the future.

Please check it out and give your feedback.

If you need to trace all kinds of Identity attacks using the MD for Identity tool, please view this blog article, “Microsoft Defender for Identity Daily Operation”.

Microsoft Defender for Identity is a cloud-based security solution that leverages your on-premises Active Directory signals to identify, detect, and investigate advanced threats, compromised identities, and malicious insider actions directed at your organization.

Microsoft Defender for Identity includes the following features:

  • Monitor users, entity behavior, and activities with learning-based analytics
  • Protect user identities and credentials stored in Active Directory
  • Identify and investigate suspicious user activities and advanced attacks throughout the kill chain
  • Provide clear incident information on a simple timeline for fast triage

The setup procedure for Microsoft Defender for Identity,  includes the following steps:

  1. Prepare On-prem Domain for Microsoft Defender for Identity operation.
  2. Install Sensors for Domain Controllers
  3. Configure Microsoft Defender for Identity
  4. Troubleshoot and Test.

A.   Prepare On-prem Domain for Microsoft Defender for Identity

  1. Creating the group Managed Service Accounts (gMSA) for Microsoft Defender for Identity.

In Windows Server 2012 and later Domain, services or service administrators do not need to manage password synchronization between service instances when using group Managed Service Accounts (gMSA).

You provision the gMSA in AD and then configure the service which supports Managed Service Accounts.

You can provision a gMSA using the *-ADServiceAccount cmdlets which are part of the Active Directory module. Service identity configuration on the host is supported by:

  • Same APIs as sMSA, so products which support sMSA will support gMSA
  • Services which use Service Control Manager to configure logon identity
  • Services which use the IIS manager for application pools to configure identity
  • Tasks using Task Scheduler.

gMSA Prerequisite:

  • gMSA required KDS Root Key. It is used by the KDS service on DCs (along with other information) to generate passwords. It is required only once per forest.
a)      To Create KDS Root key:

Add-KdsRootKey -EffectiveImmediately


Will need time for the key to be propagated to all other DCs,

b)     To create a gMSA using the New-ADServiceAccount cmdlet

On the Windows Server 2012 domain controller or later, Run AD Powershell:

  • New-ADServiceAccount ITFarm1 -DNSHostName -PrincipalsAllowedToRetrieveManagedPassword DC01$ -KerberosEncryptionType RC4, AES128, AES256 -ServicePrincipalNames http/, http/, http/ITFarm1/, http/ITFarm1/donlearning
KerberosEncryptionTypeNone, RC4, AES128, AES256
ManagedPasswordIntervalInDaysPassword change interval in days (default is 30 days if not provided)
PrincipalsAllowedToRetrieveManagedPasswordThe computer accounts of the member hosts or the security group that the member hosts are a member of
SamAccountNameNetBIOS name for the service if not same as Name
ServicePrincipalNamesService Principal Names (SPNs) for the service http/, http/, http/ITFarm1/, http/ITFarm1/donlearning, MSSQLSvc/, MSSQLSvc/

Note: The password change interval can only be set during creation and cannot change later.

To create a gMSA for outbound authentication only using the New-ADServiceAccount cmdlet
  • New-ADServiceAccount ITFarm1 -RestrictToOutboundAuthenticationOnly – PrincipalsAllowedToRetrieveManagedPassword DC01$
c)      Add member hosts to gMSA
  • Get-ADServiceAccount [-Identity] ITFarm1 -Properties PrincipalsAllowedToRetrieveManagedPassword
  • Set-ADServiceAccount [-Identity] ITFarm1 -PrincipalsAllowedToRetrieveManagedPassword DC01$,DC02$,DC03$

Or a better option:

You could create AD Security Group “SensorDCs” whose members are Sensor DCs and set AD service account to allow retrieving password:

  • Set-ADServiceAccount ITFarm1 -PrincipalsAllowedToRetrieveManagedPassword SensorDCs

B.     Installing Sensor for All Domain Controllers

           Prerequisites for Domain Controllers:
  • Make sure Microsoft .Net Framework 4.7 or later is installed on the machine. If Microsoft .Net Framework 4.7 or later isn't installed, the Azure sensor setup package installs it, which may require a reboot of the server.
  • Quick check if the Domain Controllers have enough CPU and Memory for Sensor to collect traffic packets and analyze them. The following CPU and Random Access Memory (RAM) capacity refers to the sensor's own consumption, not the domain controller capacity.
Packets per secondCPU (cores)*Memory** (GB)

* This includes physical cores, not hyper-threaded cores.
** Random-access memory (RAM)

a.     Create Microsoft Defender for Identity Instance

Sign in to with the Azure Account used as Microsoft Defender for Identity (AATP) administrator

A new AATP Instance will be created:


Your Azure instance is automatically named with the initial domain name and created in the data center located closest to your .


Click ConfigurationManage role groups, and use the Azure AD Admin Center link to manage your role groups.

b.    Connect AATP Instance to AD Forest

The first time you open the Azure ATP portal, the following screen appears:

c.     Download and Install the Sensor to DC

Download and copy the Access key. The access key is required for the Azure ATP sensor to connect to your Azure ATP instance (one-time-password for sensor deployment).


Under Configure the sensor, enter the installation path and the access key that you copied from the previous step, based on your environment:


Azure ATP sensor service and Azure ATP sensor updater service are now available in Windows Services as shown:


To finish, reboot the DC Sensor Server.

If the domain controller is the first deployed sensor, you will need to wait at least 15 minutes to allow the database backend to finish initial deployment of the necessary microservices.

If you experience any error during installation process, please refer to the Troubleshooting section (section IV)

d.    To check if Sensor is working correctly:

   Sign in to and check if sensor is working:


Installing Microsoft Defender for Identity AATP Sensor on Core Server:

  • Support for Windows 2016, 2019 Server Core (nano editions are not supported)
  • “Azure ATP sensor Setup.exe” /quiet NetFrameworkCommandLineArguments=”/q” AccessKey=”
  • Or by Powershell: ./”Azure ATP sensor Setup.exe” /quiet NetFrameworkCommandLineArguments=”/q” AccessKey=”
  • To Update Sensor: “Azure ATP sensor Setup.exe” [/quiet] [/Help] [NetFrameworkCommandLineArguments=”/q”]

C. Configure Microsoft Defender for Identity-AATP

    a. To Configure detection Exclusions and Honeytoken

Honeytoken accounts, which are used as traps for malicious actors – any associated with these honeytoken accounts (normally dormant), triggers an alert.

Honeytokens can exist in many forms, from a dead, fake account to a database entry that would only be selected by malicious queries, making the concept ideally suited to ensuring data integrity. A particular example of a honeytoken is a fake email address used to track if a mailing list has been stolen.

  1. From the Azure ATP portal, click on the settings icon.
  2. Under Detection, click Entity tags.
  3. Under Honeytoken accounts, enter the Honeytoken account name and click the + sign. The Honeytoken accounts field is searchable and automatically displays entities in your . Click Save.
  1. Add Sensitive Accounts:

Sensitive Accounts: Enter the account you want to monitor lateral movement, modification change, high privilege accounts.

Sensitive groups:  Enter the account you want to monitor lateral movement, modification change, high privilege administrative group.

  1. Click Exclusions. Enter a user account or IP address to be excluded from the detection, for each type of threat.
  2. Click the plus sign. The Add entity (user or computer) field is searchable and will autofill with entities in your . For more information, see Excluding entities from detections and the security alert guide.
  1. Click Save.
b. To receive notifications to a specific email address:
  1. In the Azure ATP portal, select the “settings” icon
  2. Click Notifications.
  3. Under Mail notifications, specify which notifications should be sent via email – they can be sent for new alerts (suspicious activities) and new health issues.
  4. Click Save.
c. Configure the Collection of Audit Events in GPO

Azure Advanced Threat Protection (Azure ATP) detection relies on specific Windows Event log entries to enhance some detections and provide additional information on who performed specific actions such as NTLM logons, security group modifications and others.

You can use the Default Domain Controllers Policy or a dedicated GPO to set the following audit policies:

  • Go to Computer Configuration > Policies > Windows Settings > Security Settings
  • Go to Advanced Audit Policy Configuration
  • Audit Policies.
  • Under Audit Policies, edit each of the following policies
  •  select Configure the following audit events for both Success and Failure events.
Audit policySubcategoryTriggers event IDs
Account LogonAudit Credential Validation4776
Account ManagementAudit Computer Account Management4743
Account ManagementAudit Distribution Group Management4753, 4763
Account ManagementAudit Security Group Management4728, 4729, 4730, 4732, 4733, 4756, 4757, 4758
Account ManagementAudit User Account Management4726
SystemAudit Security System Extension7045
 c. Configure the Collection of Event 8004 NTLM Authentication:
  • Go to Local Policies > Security Options.
  • Under Security Options, configure the specified security policies, as follows:
security: Restrict NTLM: Outgoing NTLM traffic to remote servers Audit all
Network security: Restrict NTLM: Audit NTLM in this domain Enable all
Network security: Restrict NTLM: Audit Incoming NTLM Traffic Enable auditing for all accounts


D. Troubleshoot and Test AATP result

a. To Test AATP

You could simulate the attacks from fake virus script and files at the following link :

View responses from AATP portal at

  • InvestigateActivity logs
    b. Troubleshooting

        AATP logs ‘ locations:

  • Azure ATP Deployment logs

The Azure ATP deployment logs are located in the temp directory for the user who installed the product.  C:UsersAdministratorAppDataLocalTemp (or one directory above %temp%).

  • Azure ATP logs

C:Program FilesAzure Advanced Threat Protection Sensorversion numberLogs.

  • Microsoft.Tri.Sensor.log – This log contains everything that happens in the Azure ATP sensor (including resolution and errors).
  • Microsoft.Tri.Sensor-Errors.log – This log contains just the errors that are caught by the ATP sensor.
  • Microsoft.Tri.Sensor.Updater.log – This log is used for the sensor updater process (automatically updated).
The knowns issue related to AATP setup and Configuration as follow:
  • Sensor Installation error, error ID 1068: 

             Solution: Reboot is needed to start sensor service.

  • Sensor Installation error, “Sensor Failure Communication”

System.Net.Http.HttpRequestException: An error occurred while sending the request. —>

or System.Net.WebException: Unable to connect to the remote server —>

or System.Net.Sockets.SocketException: A connection attempt failed because the connected party did not properly respond after a period of time, or established connection failed because connected host has failed to respond…

Solution: Make sure that communication is not blocked for localhost, on TCP port 444

  • Sensor Installation error on DC with NIC Teaming

NIC Teaming for AATP required Npcap driver with WinPcap mode.


  • Uninstall Sensor,
  • Install the Npcap version 0.9984 installer from
  • using the GUI installer, deselect the loopback support and select WinPcap mode.
  • Reinstall the sensor package.
  • Sensor installation error on DC with Multi Processor Group mode

For Windows Operating systems 2008R2 and 2012, Azure ATP Sensor is not supported in a Multi Processor Group mode.

Suggested possible workarounds:

If hyper threading is on, turn it off. This may reduce the number of logical cores enough to avoid needing to run in Multi Processor Group mode.

If your machine has less than 64 logical cores and is running on a HP host, you may be able to change the NUMA Group Size Optimization BIOS setting from the default of Clustered to Flat.

  • Create AD Service Account with “key does not exist” error

Solution: You will need to create KDS Root key if get error: “Key does not exist”



Azure ATP setup

Server Core setup:

Azure ATP Configuration


Thanks for reading this blog. Our next discussion topic would be the “Microsoft Defender for Identity – AATP Operation” blog article, you could access the article from here

Happy AATP Monitoring!


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This article was originally published by Microsoft's Core Infrastructure and Security Blog. You can find the original article here.