Should I be using Windows Defender?
This is a question organizations and admins have been asking a lot recently. And the answer may surprise you. When Microsoft first released Defender as a built-in anti-virus and threat detection platform, it provided fairly good protection for the home user. However, this first release was not quite as robust as some commercial offerings in use by larger corporations.
A few years ago, Microsoft went all in on updating the service and building out its threat detection platform greatly increasing its capabilities of integrating with your O365 and Active Directory (for businesses) environments.
Okay, Should I Be Using Windows Defender On My Home Computer?
Let’s go over the pros and cons of using Defender.
The pros: Windows Defender Antivirus is built into Windows; Defender gets frequent updates, Defender provides real-time protection, and Defender works with the built-in security features of Windows.
But there are still some shortcomings of the platform. In the past, the system was resource intensive, meaning it used a lot of “processing power” to run scans of the computer. When there is a “resource intensive” program running on a computer, it makes everything else run really slow.
Also, when Defender was released, it had high rate of false positives.
However, as with many AV programs, with time and with the assistance of machine learning and other methods, these instances become less and less problematic.
Windows Defender Antivirus protects your Windows device from software threats, such as viruses, malware, and spyware. Microsoft Defender Antivirus give you complete, ongoing protection, built into Windows 10 and Windows 11.
In January and February of 2022, AV-TEST found that Microsoft Defender Antivirus caught 100% of the “widespread and prevalent malware”. AV-TEST also found that Microsoft Defender Antivirus also caught 100% percent of the zero-day attacks during those months. This stellar performance continued in preceding months, putting up perfect protection scores for almost two years. Microsoft Defender Antivirus ranks as high as any third-party antivirus option.
But wait…there’s more!
Different Versions, Different Abilities
There are other versions of Defender, and they are distinguished by two words- Windows and Microsoft. Confused? I’m sure you are.
Windows Defender Antivirus is the consumer antivirus program built into Windows 10/11 computers. While it is good at what it does, viruses have not been used as the main attack vector for many years. So, while it does do a great job at what it is designed for, it isn’t made for businesses.
Microsoft Defender 365 Endpoint is another version that offers enterprise security teams incident response and investigation tools, and lives as an instance in the Azure cloud. The different Defender for Endpoint and Defender for Business are only available with a Microsoft 365 subscription. If your business uses Microsoft tools like Word, Excel, Power Point and Outlook, you are most likely using a 365 subscription.
Can I use Defender for My Business?
Microsoft 365 Endpoint is designed to be managed by an IT department. Microsoft 365 Endpoint competes with other enterprise security software services, it works with many third-party security solutions, making it even more powerful. These third-party security solutions augment the 365 Defender Endpoint and some even tie into your O365 cloud environment by providing even more layers of protection.
What layers? Well, there are things that 365 Defender Endpoint doesn’t natively perform like, MDR (Managed Detection and Response), threat hunting for APT (Advanced Persistent Threats), or catching Ransomware in real time. This is where a 3rd party security solution, that integrates with 365 Defender Endpoint, can help augment your security environment with little to no added overhead
Land of Confusion
Of course, if you are at all familiar with Microsoft software and licensing, it gets a bit more complicated from here.
Microsoft 365 Defender for Endpoint is a very evolved security platform that, you guessed it, comes in different flavors (see below).
Now, Microsoft didn’t want to stop there! They felt that they needed another version, tailored to small and midsized businesses. This version features core capabilities that Microsoft feels helpful for the SMB market.
TechNoir Solutions believes in vetting multiple vendors to help find a solution that works best for your team. We have successfully implemented environments relying on Defender and 3rd party utilities that augment the platform to help increase the efficiency, monitoring, and response to issues that may arise in the changing cyber landscape.
1. (Q) Is Windows Defender a free security solution?
– (A): Yes, Windows Defender is available as a free security solution for Windows users.
2. (Q): Does Windows Defender work on Mac or Linux systems?
– (A): Windows Defender primarily focuses on providing security for Windows devices. However, there are versions available for Mac and Linux systems as well.
3. (Q): Can I use Windows Defender alongside other antivirus software?
– (A): Windows Defender is designed to work seamlessly with Windows and is often recommended as the primary security solution. While it’s possible to use other antivirus software alongside it, it’s generally recommended to avoid running multiple real-time protection software simultaneously to prevent conflicts.
4. (Q): How frequently should I update Windows Defender?
– (A): It is important to keep Windows Defender up to date by allowing regular updates. These updates ensure that the software has the latest security definitions to detect and counter emerging threats effectively.
5. (Q): Can Windows Defender protect against zero-day threats?
– (A): Yes, Windows Defender incorporates heuristic analysis and behavioral monitoring techniques to detect and respond to zero-day threats, which are previously unknown vulnerabilities or exploits. Regular updates are crucial for maximizing its effectiveness against such threats.