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Best way to check for GPO compliance? Having trouble with SCCM.

What is the best way to check computers on the network for compliance against Group Policies?

I have tried exporting Backups of our GPOs and converting them to .cab in Microsoft Security Compliance Manager, but that only converts to 2007 and I'm on SCCM 2012, so I'm not sure if it's 100% accurate there. Secondly, there's always some kind of issue, like it not knowing how to translate some configuration items' queries and determine if systems are compliant.

Is there a better way? I'm new to this area. Is it all commercial software solutions to "get things done" in this area? Or is there a simple free approach I'm overlooking?

There is interest in comparing USGCB baselines as well, and I can only work with their GPO backups and convert with Microsoft Security Compliance Manager, which like my own GPO backups, leads to strange issues.
I'm assuming the USGCB SCAP is a better file to use for baseline scanning?
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btanExec ConsultantCommented:
The typical means is for SCM export the DCM and import into the SCCM for the checks. You can also export settings to Excel (.xlsm), create a GPO backup folder, or export to a SCAP (Security Content Automation Protocol) or a SCM file (both .cab files). http://www.windowsecurity.com/articles-tutorials/misc_network_security/Security-Compliance-Microsoft-SCM.html

the cab should be compatible, and you can check these steps for the checks

As for the SCCM compliance check use case, you can catch below. You likely need to drill into the compliance rules specific, or run script in specific and have its corresponding remediation task to resolve non compliance...
e.g. s/w  version check - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/scom_2012_upgrade_process__lessons_learned_during_my_upgrade_process/archive/2012/09/21/compliance-settings-sccm-2012.aspx
e.g. port open check -
e.g. disable s/w auto update

Useful materials:
Video: Importing GPOs into Security Compliance Manager (SCM)
Video: SCM 2.5 Creating GPOs from Baselines
Video: Importing Custom Settings Into Group Policy Production using Security Compliance Manager (SCM)

Other means are also stated in NIST http://www.nist.org/news.php?extend.204 (most of it is on SCAP tool), but I suggest checking out the below which commonly used besides the SCCM/SCM
CIS benchmark tookit - http://benchmarks.cisecurity.org/downloads/audit-tools/
CIS and Nexpose - https://community.rapid7.com/docs/DOC-2061
Nessus Tenable - https://discussions.nessus.org/thread/3931, http://www.tenable.com/solutions/configuration-auditing
garryshapeAuthor Commented:
Well fascinating stuff, a lot to go through. I do appreciate it and will check it out.

I ran into one issue today, where Compliance Manager, appended the word "Equals" to the beginning of the Interactive Logon message for security group policy, and it also omitted a comma from one of the sentences in the paragraph of text.
This kind of stuff is very strange to me and I find myself having to in every single "export" and "import" to clean up the programs' mess. If not it comes back as compliant. Which leads me to believe, how do I know what's "compliant" is indeed compliant?
The criteria/expressions/values get whacky sometimes and I find that troubling.
btanExec ConsultantCommented:
compliant to SCCM (or any tool) is just the equating of value setting based on registry setting etc or simply want to report based on severity level (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb632716.aspx) - The compliance state is wrt evaluated configuration baseline. It is as it is at that point of check. Trust but verify hence not rely just on tool or one tool, there must be SOP to ensure it stands as claimed. Sometimes, other also do script query to have another check e.g. http://t3chn1ck.wordpress.com/2010/01/11/fix-sccm-client-scan-state/

Pls do not treat it as vulnerability scanning or penetration testing as they drill further to check for verifying and validation of other more (non Windows) services required and needed in business context, and evaluate unnecessary configuration that exposed the Enterprise.
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