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Microsoft Defender for Endpoint OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is the #2 ranked solution in our list of top Anti-Malware Tools. It is most often compared to CrowdStrike Falcon: Microsoft Defender for Endpoint vs CrowdStrike Falcon

What is Microsoft Defender for Endpoint?

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is a complete endpoint security solution that delivers preventative protection, post-breach detection, automated investigation, and response. With Defender for Endpoint, you have: 

Agentless, cloud powered - No additional deployment or infrastructure. No delays or update compatibility issues. Always up to date. 

Unparalleled optics - Built on the industry’s deepest insight into Windows threats and shared signals across devices, identities, and information. 

Automated security - Take your security to a new level by going from alert to remediation in minutes—at scale. 

To learn more about our solution, ask questions, and share feedback, join our Microsoft Security and Compliance Community.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is also known as Microsoft Defender ATP, Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection, MS Defender for Endpoint, Microsoft Defender Antivirus.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Buyer's Guide

Download the Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: October 2021

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Customers

Petrofrac, Metro CSG, Christus Health

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Microsoft Defender for Endpoint pricing:
  • "Most people don't realize M365/E5 licenses are an amazing deal. They think "Oh, it's expensive," and I'll ask, "Compared to what?" If you don't have it you will have to buy licenses for multiple products to fill the same security space that you would have gotten with the Microsoft product. Go figure out how much it costs you per product, per user, and then come back and tell me how things add up financially."
  • "Licenses depend upon what you are looking for and what kind of security do you want to implement. There are costs in addition to the standard licensing fees. When we used to buy Symantec, we used to spend on 100 licenses. We used to spend approximately $2,700 for those many licenses, and they came in packs. To add one more license, I had to buy a pack with a minimum of 10 licenses. I had to spend on nine extra licenses because I can't get a single license, whereas when we go for Microsoft, we can get as many licenses as we want. If I have 100 users today, and tomorrow, I have 90 users, I can release my 10 licenses next month. With any other software vendor, you buy licenses for one year, and you have to stick with that. If today you have 100 licenses, and tomorrow, you have 50, you have already paid for one year's license. You can't go back and tell them that I don't require these 50 licenses because I have lost my 50 users, but with Microsoft Defender, licensing is on a monthly basis. It gives you both options. You can go yearly and save on it, or you can go monthly. You will, again, save on it. It is very fair everywhere."
  • "It is built into Windows 10. If our clients are using Microsoft Defender, the cost goes away for them."

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Reviews

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GH
Principal Consultant at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Enables ingestion of events directly into your SIEM/SOAR, but requires integration with all Defender products to work optimally

Pros and Cons

  • "The best feature is the fact that for certain mobiles you can control your corporate profiles versus your personal profiles. That is amazingly important. Apple just supported the separation of corporate and personal profiles, whereas Android has been doing that for quite some time... Because Android supports that, if an Android phone is lost or stolen, I can wipe out all the corporate-related information from that phone and not touch the personal side. I can separate the apps and I can separate the ability to cut and paste between apps."
  • "It's not easy to create special allowances for certain groups of users. It can be a little heavy-handed in some areas where Microsoft has decided to lock a feature out, meaning they make it hard to make an exception... One company we work with needed to use about 20 different thumb drives for about 20 users. To make that exception for them was very difficult. In fact, you can't really make an exception. But what you can do is allow them to use it and, while it will still alert, you can actually suppress those alerts."

What is our primary use case?

Our use cases, and the way we deploy it, depend on the different situations we encounter.

There may be a company that is already using the Endpoint Protection solution and we have to do a migration.

Another scenario is that a company may be migrating away from another endpoint threat protection solution.

And there are some companies that are already using SCCM, and we may have to go through one of two scenarios. One is to co-manage with what they call Microsoft Endpoint Manager and Configuration Manager. If they are already using SCCM, and only SCCM, we will typically have to go through a process where we integrate SCCM into Endpoint Manager and then they'll usually bring some endpoints into Intune and they'll do a PLC. They have to Azure AD-join or register a device into that so it can be managed through Intune. They may even co-manage it for a while until they fully onboard into Intune only. A lot of people are looking to get away from co-management and managing through Endpoint Manager. But there are some prerequisites to accomplish that.

The endgame for most companies is they want to manage things from Intune only. There are different paths to get there, depending on what they already have in place.

How has it helped my organization?

Overall, Defender for Endpoint has created a better security posture, particularly in these COVID times where no one is on-premises anymore and they're working remotely.

What is most valuable?

More than anything, what I find most valuable is the holistic integration with all Defender products and MCAS. You can not deploy this in a vacuum. It's like most Microsoft technology. If you want to do a Zero Trust model and framework, you have to deploy things in a holistic solution.

Among the new features I like is that you can ingest your Defender events directly into your SIEM/SOAR product, particularly Azure Sentinel, although not a lot of people are using that and you don't have to be using it. You can ingest them into any SIEM/SOAR product directly.

There are features that have helped improve a company's security posture, now that remote work has come into play. Microsoft had to come up with a solution because identity is the new security plan. The largest attack surface is going to be your endpoints, so you have to be able to control your endpoints. There is malware that can collect IDs and it doesn't have to be from privileged accounts, it could be from any account. Once they get in, then they can start looking around to see if there are any security holes, move laterally, and get a hold of a privileged account. And if they get a hold of a privileged then they can just turn off all your security controls and get to your data and you've got a ransomware attack. With Defender for Endpoint, it's the combination. Every one of the features in it is equally important, but the most important thing is integrating it with the other Defender products, to create a holistic solution.

The best feature is the fact that for certain mobiles you can control your corporate profiles versus your personal profiles. That is amazingly important. Apple just supported the separation of corporate and personal profiles, whereas Android has been doing that for quite some time. You are better off as an organization, when it comes to BYOD—because Apple just now started supporting separation of corporate and personal profiles—to start with the version that supports that feature. If you go below that level, you don't get that feature, and it makes it very difficult to separate corporate and personal profiles. Because Android supports that, if an Android phone is lost or stolen, I can wipe out all the corporate-related information from that phone and not touch the personal side. I can separate the apps and I can separate the ability to cut and paste between apps. I can cut the ability from sharing files between apps between the personal and corporate profiles. From a data loss prevention standpoint, I can completely segment corporate apps and data from personal apps and data.

Another feature is that it is now supported across multiple platforms, where it was regulated at one time for just Microsoft-supported operating systems. That development is very important.

What needs improvement?

There are a few caveats, things we have run into. It's not easy to create special allowances for certain groups of users. It can be a little heavy-handed in some areas where Microsoft has decided to lock a feature out, meaning they make it hard to make an exception. I'll give you two examples. One company we work with needed to use about 20 different thumb drives for about 20 users. To make that exception for them was very difficult. In fact, you can't really make an exception. But what you can do is allow them to use it and, while it will still alert, you can actually suppress those alerts. Another example was where a group needed to be able to go in and manipulate their PC ERP settings. To make an exception for them was also a difficult process. A lot of people have suggested that Microsoft should not, by default, make it so difficult by locking your ability to make exceptions.

Another issue is that when you implement this it is not a single solution in and of itself. You have to implement what are called security baselines for each platform. But Microsoft does not have security baselines, other than for its own products. That means that when you want to do a security baseline for say, iOS or Android, you have to depend on other security organization's recommendations and set the security controls to create those security baselines for other platforms. You would typically use CIS. But when it comes to iOS, it's a real pain. iOS requires you to create a security baseline for every version of iOS. Android does not.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Microsoft Defender for Endpoint since it first came out. They bundled it into M365 licenses, particularly E5 licenses or the equivalent, around 2019.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Like every other security product out there, the stability of Defender for Endpoint is a work in progress. The solution is trying to address a tough problem and anybody will tell you that cyber security is not a fair fight. It's just incredibly hard to defend against the bad actors. Everybody is scurrying right now to come up with different ways to stop the problem and it's just not there yet.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of scalability, we have run into organizations that are very large and that have said it doesn't scale well. I'm part of MISA, the Microsoft Intelligence Security Association, and we did a review of all their products and they all had scaling problems, including SIEM/SOAR, MCAS, Endpoint Manager, et cetera.

There are two "fronts" for anybody who is using a SIEM/SOAR: one is how fast they can ingest, and the other one is how fast they can make decisions. You want to do this in real-time, or near real-time.

The ingestion problem is that you're ingesting a bunch of stuff from everywhere: from the network, from identity, from all your services, and your apps. It's a crazy amount of data. Some organizations are doing on the order of 5 billion events daily. How do you ingest all that in a timely manner and correlate it? You have to do it in a distributed way. There will be a top-level SIEM/SOAR and several underneath it that are collecting data for a particular location or a set of users. You trim that down and eventually ingest stuff to the top so that you can see things from the holistic viewpoint. Or you decentralize it, where office A and all its users have their own, and office B has its own, and you don't necessarily roll it up into a single, corporate-wide solution.

There are products out there that are addressing this by not storing the events directly onto disk, but into flash drives, so they're super-fast. They never put it on a disk and save it. You can have the option of saving it to disk for long-term retention. But the immediate ingestion of events is happening through flash drives. It sits in fast memory, never gets written to disks, and that's how they're speeding things up. And there are AI/ML engines pulling that stuff in and they can act much faster.

In addition, some AI/ML engines are more mature than others. There is a lot of work being done on that front. When it comes to Endpoint Manager there are a bunch of events coming from a ton of endpoints. It's no different than ingesting events from a thousand database servers. Or they could be from your whole application reference architectures, and your data analytics reference architectures. Everybody sees the problem coming, the problem of big data. That's what we are really talking about. There is a whole lot of stuff coming in and we have to make sense of it, figure out what's relevant, have a scoring system and prioritization system to make decisions fast. For example, the bad guys are able to get into your systems and, within 20 minutes, they've already done an assessment. Usually, if you're lucky, you can respond to that in 30 minutes. And if you're a huge enterprise, you may not even be able to respond that fast.

That's the reason everybody says it's not a fair fight. We don't have the tools right now to react fast enough.

As for how extensively it's being used by our clients, anyone who is going to use it plans to use it as a one-stop solution. They won't be using multiple solutions and they will roll it out to every endpoint. It makes perfect sense to do so because you don't want to have multiple products and require your staff to have knowledge of multiple products.

For big corporations, it takes a little while to get there. It's something that has been evolving for 30 years now. Organizations want to settle on a standard desktop and want to be able to do configuration control that allows them to control the apps and the usability from a security standpoint. It used to be, "Let's make it easily usable." But now the industry is flipping that over to, "It has to be secure." The vendors have finally come to the point where the balance between usability and security is leveling out.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I've used multiple solutions in the past. We switched based on our customers' requests. Some do it for solution architecture reasons and some of them do it for enterprise.

The enterprise customers say, "Oh, we know we need Endpoint Manager, but we need to align a solution with our business requirements first. Before you even select a solution we are going to look at our business requirements, then do a bake-off possibly, and then select a solution." Or they'll just look at industry ratings of the solutions and say, "Oh, this is the best one," not knowing that those ratings don't necessarily look at every new solution out there. There are so many. We are a VAR and we resell hundreds of security and regulatory compliance products. Usually, unless they bring us in at the early stages of the process, our clients have already picked a solution.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is very complex. To me, it's one of the more complex solutions because it touches so much. I have to know every platform and every platform version, when I create security baselines. As I mentioned, certain versions of iOS don't support the separation of corporate and personal profiles, and then you run into the scenario where they're already using some other endpoint protection and they want to migrate it to Microsoft Defender for Endpoint.

Or there is the scenario where they are using SCCM and to then use Microsoft Defender for Endpoint you should really require Endpoint Manager, meaning that you have to transition to that. And as I noted, making exceptions is hard. 

And when you integrate it across all the Defender products, and are managing a project like that, you have to get to a point where they're ready to be integrated, which is an issue of timing. So it's one of the more complicated things to roll out, compared to Defender for Identity. Defender for Office 365 is pretty large too, but Endpoint is the hardest of the three.

It even touches identity, because there are Azure Active Directory conditional access policies, and those are connected with Endpoint Manager. You've literally got to look at what policies and what setup within Endpoint Manager can apply to different versions of iOS. You have to dissect so that if you're going to do BYOD, for example, and allow a version of iOS from some early version and up, you have to understand that there may be some options that you can use with one version that you can't with others. It's much easier to do with Android than it is with iOS.

When you start heading down that path, it's a maturation process. You have to roll things out in phases. It's a very complicated product. Like with SIEM/SOAR products, when you start getting events, you could be flooded with them. You have to learn to tune it, so that you can differentiate the trees from the forest. You have to correlate things and automate your responses. That type of tuning process is a long process one to get the clutter out.

A product like Sentinel is pretty cool because it has predetermined workbooks, and predetermined manual and automated responses. It has playlists. They are making it very much easier to trim that clutter and to get to the nitty-gritty, and they have done so with Defender for Endpoint.

The deployment time, with fine-tuning, depends on the size of the organization. If it's a small or medium business, it could take three months to deploy and tune, and it could take longer; up to six months. It depends on many factors that I've mentioned, such as if they're migrating, or if they have an integration between SCCM and Intune. It also depends on the expertise level of the organization, its maturation level, and skill sets. All of that comes into play.

It also depends on their starting point in terms of some of the prerequisite services. You don't generally roll out Defender for Endpoint until you've got identity governance and protection. That's the first thing you do because everything is dependent upon that. After that, the prerequisite is rolling out Endpoint Manager, and then Defender for Endpoint. If it's a hybrid situation, you may roll out Defender for Identity so you can cover your Active Directory controllers and provide threat protection for them, although you can do all the "Defenders" in parallel; you just have to time them correctly so that when you integrate them together they're ready to go.

For large organizations, it could take a year or two. For example, if there are half a million endpoint devices—and that's possible if you have an organization with 200,000 employees and contractors, and each has a laptop and a mobile—it can take some time.

In terms of an implementation strategy, I have developed work-breakdown structures for just about every Azure service and almost every Azure M365 service. They look at working with them holistically, but they are broken down into each individual service and mention the other services within the work-breakdown schedule, and how you integrate them. The first thing I do is a current-state assessment and that gives me an indication of the readiness for deployment. The next steps are plan, design, deploy, manage, secure. There are strict sets of security controls and I have to gather every single one of those per platform. It's quite a long process. It follows the saying, "If you fail to plan you plan to fail."

As for staff required to maintain Defender for Endpoint, once you get it set up and tuned it's not too bad. It depends on the size of the organization again. If a business has 100 people, one person can do it easily. If there are a few thousand people, you may need two or three people. It often depends on your getting all the features rolled out. In IT it often happens that we roll stuff out and we always intend to get to that other piece but we just never get the time to do it. Many organizations are going to a lean staff and bringing in consultants to help roll things out. For us, as a contractor, it's great. Our business is booming.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Most organizations that we have come to want to replace their current endpoint protection solution for Defender. A reason many of them do that is that they aren't pleased with whatever they have. They may not know what features are relevant and just don't know how to roll them out. They realize, "Oh, I bought M365/E5 licenses, and Defender comes with them already. Why not use it?" 

Most people don't realize M365/E5 licenses are an amazing deal. They think "Oh, it's expensive," and I'll ask, "Compared to what?" If you don't have it you will have to buy licenses for multiple products to fill the same security space that you would have gotten with the Microsoft product. Go figure out how much it costs you per product, per user, and then come back and tell me how things add up financially.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

If our client brings us into the process at the right time, we evaluate products for them, since we're evaluating products constantly. That's part of what we do. We have to know, through a deep-dive, the pros and cons of each. We are constantly being updated by our vendors about how they're addressing a particular security area.

Is Defender for Endpoint the best product out there? No, it's not. I can think of several others that are pretty amazing. It's still a product that's evolving, but it does a really good job for the most part. It does the best job when it is integrated with the whole Microsoft holistic solution. If you look at Microsoft's site, you will see what capabilities Microsoft has. They will show you how these products integrate and work together to give you a holistic solution to develop a Zero Trust model framework.

And while it's not the best solution overall, some of the pieces are. There are several areas where Microsoft is good or better than most, and then there are some weaknesses when you do Zero Trust. They don't have a secure web gateway product. Their MCAS or CASB product leaves a little bit to be desired. There are other solutions, in those two components of a Zero Trust model, that do a much better job. Zscaler probably has the bulk of the business but I'm a big fan of Netskope. There is Crowdstrike, and Forcepoint may be making some inroads because they just developed a new anti-malware technology. But none of them are going to be perfect because malware is a hard problem to solve.

There is also a new product I just reviewed for M365 Security that is pretty amazing on paper. Although I haven't actually kicked the tires on it yet, it looks really good and it's from one of the fastest-growing companies out there.

Think of it like this: If you don't buy E5 licenses or the equivalent with M365, you don't get Defender for Office 365. People don't realize that product is a kind of a split product. It's a multi-function product. It has some DLP pieces that work with MIP and it has some pieces that work with the Office 365 outlying suite. It's a little bit of a funky product.

But one of the things it has is a part of your Exchange Online protection. Without it, you don't get the features like anti-spam, anti-virus, safe links, and safe attachments. That combination addresses what is called a combined attack. You get an attachment and the attachment may have a link in it, or you get an email that has a link in it. They all look legitimate. If someone clicks on it, it takes them to a malware site, and bam! You just downloaded it into your computer and now endpoint protection comes into play.

Eighty percent of malware is still spread via email today. That's how they attack you. They're trying to penetrate your apps and they're even trying to penetrate your M365 online apps. This product works inline and they've already proven that, even with Defender for Office 365, there are still malicious messages getting through. The bad actors figure out how. They actually buy the product and figure out where its weaknesses are and they attack it. Because it's such a popular product it's the one they're going to target. It has the biggest attack surface. They've been attacking the weaknesses of M365, particularly the Exchange Online protection and all the weaknesses in Defender for Office 365. They've just been clobbering it. We're having a lot of people say to us, "Do a security assessment on our M365". All I can tell them is that it's not their problem as much as it's the product's problem right now.

Microsoft is trying to address things as fast as it can, but it's going to take months to get there. But here is another product you can add on that can help you fill those flaws. What this other company has done is that they've said, "We'll fix those flaws for you and we'll make it an easy process to do so." Usually, the circumstances in which you need an email security gateway is when you don't have an E5 license. But now they're even attacking that. And when that happens you have to change the MX record. With this new product that I've read about, you don't have to do that. It just supplements the weakness of M365, not only in Exchange Online protection but throughout all the other apps, like Sharepoint, Teams, and OneDrive. That's pretty impressive. And it works with all those products easily, without change in administration or training. It installs in minutes. I was floored when I saw that.

What other advice do I have?

The organizations I have worked with that are using Microsoft Defender for Endpoint are mostly small- and medium-sized businesses. Our larger customers are generally not using it.

There was a service built within our organization, a service that is very much hooked in with CrowdStrike. If you've ever seen the CrowdStrike products, you'll understand why. They are pretty impressive products. They do some things that help them see malicious activity in near real-time. Can they react to it in near real-time? No. But like everybody, they are trying to find a way to be able to react faster. They just bought a company called Humio, which is a SIEM/SOAR product I referred to earlier that does not store events directly to disk, so it can act on things much faster.

Used alone, I would rate Defender for Endpoint a seven out of 10. When integrated with other Microsoft products, I would give it an eight. It really depends on other pieces of the solution for Zero trust to work properly. It won't work well if you deploy it by itself. If you're going to use Defender for Endpoint, you should also use Defender for Identity, Defender for Office 365, and the full gamut, including MCAS and MIP, and then you will need your SIEM/SOAR. It's a long journey. And you had better have done your identity very well. If you haven't, it won't really matter what you throw in place, once they breach your identity plane. That's the most important one. I can put every possible safeguard in place, but if someone gets the keys to the kingdom, I might as well just turn them off.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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BS
Systems Manager at SAI Systems
Real User
Reduces admin overhead and allows us to define and roll out policies from a central console

Pros and Cons

  • "The best part is that it is built into Windows, whether it is a server base or a desktop base, which gives more control over the operating system. Because Defender, the operating system, and the Office solution are by Microsoft, everything is working like hand-in-glove. Its administrative overhead is less because a desktop user has already got some experience of how to handle a Microsoft Defender notification or administer it."
  • "Its user interface (UI) can be improved. Currently, in the console, you have to dig down for certain things. They've got many different layers to get to things instead of having it all on the surface. You have to go three folds lower to get to specific functionality or click a particular option. It would be good if we can manage the console through menus and instead of three clicks, we can do things in one click. They need to change the UI and work on it in terms of a better user experience."

What is our primary use case?

It comes inbuilt with Windows Server and Windows 10, so we are using its latest version. It is deployed centrally on all the platforms, whether it is a virtual environment, a BYOD device, or an office device. It is deployed everywhere. 

All of our users are on Office 365. By default, every user is getting Office 365, and we are also incorporating this into data leak prevention. We have also enabled Azure Active Directory, so policies are deployed directly from our active directory. 

How has it helped my organization?

It has reduced admin overhead. Because it comes inbuilt with Windows, we don't have to deal with the complication of using a third-party solution. We stopped using Symantec Antivirus three years ago. Previously, we had to find a person who knew how to manage Symantec Antivirus. Now, we don't have that overhead. It is also less taxing on the admins because they don't need to license an extra software every year and then deploy and manage those licenses. Everything is seamlessly managed from a central application.

Our full backup is on OneDrive. We had deployed separate storage area networks to back up important data for off-site users, not on-site users. In the current scenario of work from home, users need to establish a VPN connection to run our backup system. When they are at home, we cannot back up their systems if they don't have good connectivity. We also can't tax their broadband connections. Incorporating OneDrive as a backup solution with Windows Defender and Windows 10 has helped us immensely. We were not prepared for having people working from home because we always worked from the office, and 100% office attendance was required, but due to the pandemic, people moved to their hometowns, and we could no longer manage those systems. It became a headache for us when people used to report that their Windows got corrupted. Because they were working from home and there is a big problem of electricity in India, if electricity is not there, the systems suddenly shut down, and the registry gets corrupted. All these things are difficult to handle when you're at a remote location and you don't have your eyes and hands on that particular location. In such times, Windows Defender became a very big helping hand in managing the recoveries of such systems. The backups managed from OneDrive were very helpful. It has saved hundreds of hours of restoring the system in case something goes wrong. There was an instance where a user opened a spam message, and a ransomware attack was done on that system. Because the backup is managed by OneDrive, within 17 hours, this user's whole laptop was recovered without physically working on that laptop. Because of slow connectivity, it took time, but we were able to recover. This is the best feature of having OneDrive backup on the fly and recovery on the fly. These 17 hours were peanuts as compared to the data that we were able to save. This is the best selling point of having OneDrive as a backup with Windows Defender and Office 365.

What is most valuable?

The best part is that it is built into Windows, whether it is a server base or a desktop base, which gives more control over the operating system. Because Defender, the operating system, and the Office solution are by Microsoft, everything is working like hand-in-glove. Its administrative overhead is less because a desktop user has already got some experience of how to handle a Microsoft Defender notification or administer it. While working on Windows 10, every now and then, users might have seen it popping up, and they know how to do certain things. So, it is not too taxing from an administration point of view where we have to tell users what to do. 

Centralizing policies and rolling everything out is done only from one console. We are able to provide restrictions based on what we want to filter, such as certain apps should not run and certain things should run. Because we are also into website development and code development, sometimes, users need to run certain software or their own build application, which is not possible to specify with an antivirus solution. With Defender, we can centrally deploy a policy where certain parts are excluded, and they can run their code in those particular parts. This is a very nice feature where we don't have to micromanage developers' PCs or exceptions.

Data leak prevention is something that our company requires, and it is incorporated in this solution. Because we are using Microsoft OneDrive, and it is easy to take the backup to OneDrive via Microsoft Defender.

It has helped in improving our security posture.

What needs improvement?

Its user interface (UI) can be improved. Currently, in the console, you have to dig down for certain things. They've got many different layers to get to things instead of having it all on the surface. You have to go three folds lower to get to specific functionality or click a particular option. It would be good if we can manage the console through menus and instead of three clicks, we can do things in one click. They need to change the UI and work on it in terms of a better user experience. For example, user management should be in one menu, license management should be in one menu, and backup management should be in one menu. Currently, if you click on a user, you will get some devices there, and some devices will be on the other menu. Its UI is complicated. In terms of functionality, everything is okay. We don't want anything to be changed in it.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is highly stable. We don't even have to look into it to see if it has stopped working, or whether it is doing its job well or not. We have around 500 devices in our organization, and all devices do the regular login with the logs. It is immensely stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Its scalability is immense. There is no device, user, or policy limit. You install a device, and it is automatically configured because the policy is deployed from the centralized policy server or active directory.

We have around 500 devices in our organization, and all devices are using it. We have all kinds of devices such as laptops, desktops, notebooks, surface devices, etc. We also have in-house virtual servers on the AWS cloud and in-house physical servers. We also recommend enabling it for our client servers, and we configure policies for them.

Every person in our organization is using this solution. We have approximately 380 users. Its users include everyone from a new joiner to our management president. Last year, our strength was 260, and this year we have 380 users. We are growing, and by 2022, we should have more than 600 users. We are growing in a very good manner, and a group target is there. We are definitely going to grow.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have been using Microsoft products since the commencement of Windows 95. We have rarely used their support because they make their products in a way that makes them easy to use. Sometimes, there are flaws and issues, and because we are also a Microsoft Partner, we get support on priority. They take a case at the level where they think it will be resolved, and if someone is not able to resolve it, it automatically gets escalated. 

We mostly use our in-house support. In the past 20 years, we have used their support twice. When I used their support last time around four to five years ago, they were really very helpful. They were good and very professional. I cannot comment on how their support is now with the current pandemic and people not working from the office. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were using Symantec Antivirus three years ago. When we were using Symantec Antivirus, users used to report that certain popups are there, and what should they do with them. They used to ask, "Is my system infected?" They used to panic on seeing those pop-ups. Most of them were unnecessary and would say that they need to have admin access or a particular software is trying to open a port. Because we are into development, it is a requirement of a developer to open certain ports and to make that application listen on certain ports. Such requirements were very difficult to configure in Symantec. It was difficult to make it understand that these ports are going to be used by developers, and they are going to be opened, and it is not a virus activity. Sometimes, the temporary folder of users used to get infected, and it used to give hundreds and hundreds of pop-ups. We didn't know how to close all those pop-ups in one go because they were not in a group. Imagine sitting and closing a hundred pop-ups. We had to click the Close button on each and every pop-up.

With Microsoft Defender, we can control notifications. We can tell which notifications should go to the users and which shouldn't go to the users and should be forwarded to the admin central console. In terms of user experience, users are happier with less annoyance of pop-ups that they used to get with Symantec Antivirus. They do not need to know each and everything that is going at the backend. Only the admins need to know certain things, and they should know them. With Microsoft Defender, users don't even get to know that they have an antivirus solution on their system because they never get any irritating pop-ups or notifications or slowness of the system. We configure everything from the backend, and we are managing their systems from one console, which is the biggest plus point of Microsoft Defender.

How was the initial setup?

Its initial setup is very easy. It took us just a couple of hours to deploy it on remote devices.

Our implementation strategy was to deploy group policies and manage the DLP policies from the central console.

What about the implementation team?

We did our own research, and because it was a lockdown, we had resources on our hands. We asked one of our system admins to look into the options and the policies that we need to deploy and what we need to do. He went over it for a month and trained the rest of the team. Within one and a half months, it was fully operational on each device, and my whole team was trained on it.

The whole job of its deployment was done by one person, and for maintenance, we have got a five-person team because we have 380 users across the clock and across the globe.

What was our ROI?

We have very much seen an ROI.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Licenses depend upon what you are looking for and what kind of security do you want to implement. There are costs in addition to the standard licensing fees.

When we used to buy Symantec, we used to spend on 100 licenses. We used to spend approximately $2,700 for those many licenses, and they came in packs. To add one more license, I had to buy a pack with a minimum of 10 licenses. I had to spend on nine extra licenses because I can't get a single license, whereas when we go for Microsoft, we can get as many licenses as we want.

If I have 100 users today, and tomorrow, I have 90 users, I can release my 10 licenses next month. With any other software vendor, you buy licenses for one year, and you have to stick with that. If today you have 100 licenses, and tomorrow, you have 50, you have already paid for one year's license. You can't go back and tell them that I don't require these 50 licenses because I have lost my 50 users, but with Microsoft Defender, licensing is on a monthly basis. It gives you both options. You can go yearly and save on it, or you can go monthly. You will, again, save on it. It is very fair everywhere.

What other advice do I have?

My advice is, "Try it, and you will love it." If you go for any other product, you will have to manage everything separately, which becomes an overhead. You will have a separate console, separate licensing, and a separate vendor. You will also get a piece of software that is going to have a layer in between the operating system and your applications, whereas Defender incorporates itself onto the layer where the operating system is sitting. So, you don't tax your resources to manage a product that is already incorporated into all systems. Everybody knows how to use Windows and Defender, so the learning curve is also not there. It is very easy, and it offloads a lot of things such as tech requirements, separate licensing requirements, and separate vendor management. 

I am not advising you to go ahead and discard whatever you are using. You should implement it in a test environment and see what your requirements are because the requirements will definitely impact the licensing. If your requirements are met, and then compare the time required to manage Defender versus the current solution that you are using. You should compare how many hours are you putting in managing both solutions with a different skill set. Only after such evaluation, you should deploy it. 

The biggest lesson that I have learned from using this solution is to always keep it simple. Don't complicate.

I would rate Microsoft Defender Antivirus a nine out of 10. If they can make the UI more systematic, I can give it a 10 out of 10.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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Learn what your peers think about Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: October 2021.
540,884 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Kevin Mabry
CEO at Sentree Systems, Corp.
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Lowers costs for my clients and has the ransomware solution built into it, but there should be more telemetry information and more promotion

Pros and Cons

  • "I like the fact that it has the ransomware solution in there. I'm glad that the ransomware solution is built into it. That's probably the biggest thing that I see in Microsoft Defender."
  • "It is not very scalable from the eyes of an MSP because there is no dashboard that you can use to see all of your devices that have Windows Defender unless you have your own dashboard or an RMM tool to actually look at it. So, you might not get to know that a particular computer of a client is doing something, and it might have got a virus. That person might know that, but unless you set it up to actually send you the information, you won't get to know that. That's one of the things that is hard with Microsoft Defender. It is not made for the MSP world where you have one pane of glass to see all of your clients with Microsoft Defender on it unless your RMM tool already has that built-in and it can see the telemetry from Microsoft Defender."

What is our primary use case?

I offer a Security Operation Center (SOC), which is like a person standing and going through the metal detector at the airport. We're like the staff standing there and watching people and then having them send stuff through the conveyor. It is real-time detection and response.

I don't use Microsoft Defender that much. If I come across a client who doesn't want to spend on a different endpoint solution, I just have them use Microsoft Defender that is built into their devices.

How has it helped my organization?

The ransomware and some of the other features that are built into it give you more telemetry now. From the security side, I don't look at what an endpoint solution does. I look at what it gives me. I need data. I don't want something to just say, "Oh, I stopped it." That's good, but I need to be able to figure out what did it stop. Was it a good thing or a bad thing that it stopped, and what is it doing. I need to be able to break that down and go deeper into that analysis to figure out what is being stopped. Microsoft Defender is doing that now and is giving more telemetry. It doesn't give nearly as much as Bitdefender does, but it is pretty good.

It is built into Windows 10. So, I don't really have to go out and get an extra or a separate endpoint security solution. It stands on its own. I have some clients who are using Microsoft Defender, and it is perfectly fine because my SOC can actually get the telemetry from Microsoft Defender and use that as well. Microsoft Defender does have the telemetry information, and I can get some of that out of it for my SOC. I can use what's built into it to stop and do more of a response layer. I can use Microsoft Defender to stop something right there.

What is most valuable?

I like the fact that it has the ransomware solution in there. I'm glad that the ransomware solution is built into it. That's probably the biggest thing that I see in Microsoft Defender.

It is useful when a client does not want to spend extra on getting a new endpoint solution or does not want to get something else installed on their devices.

What needs improvement?

The biggest thing that I would emphasize to Microsoft is that if they are confident in their solution, they should brag more about it. In other words, they should put more stuff out there to prove that they're just as good as the others. The biggest thing is that people still don't believe in it. When it comes to the IT world, they still don't believe in Microsoft Defender. It has been there for a while, and I know that I used to not trust it because it was free and I didn't know what it was doing and if I could trust it. If you go to comparison sites, you would hardly see it being compared to solutions like Norton, Bitdefender, Webroot, etc. Microsoft can do a better job of promoting it.

They should offer more telemetry or more information coming out of there for Syslog type of scenario so that a SOC could use the data that they have built into it. This would be useful.

It is not very scalable from the eyes of an MSP because there is no dashboard that you can use to see all of your devices that have Windows Defender unless you have your own dashboard or an RMM tool to actually look at it. So, you might not get to know that a particular computer of a client is doing something, and it might have got a virus. That person might know that, but unless you set it up to actually send you the information, you won't get to know that. That's one of the things that is hard with Microsoft Defender. It is not made for the MSP world where you have one pane of glass to see all of your clients with Microsoft Defender on it unless your RMM tool already has that built-in and it can see the telemetry from Microsoft Defender. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it off and on for some time.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Its stability is fine. It is a built-in and legacy solution. It can stand up to any other endpoint security solution. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is not very scalable from the eyes of an MSP. There is no dashboard that you can use to see all of your devices that have Windows Defender unless you have your own dashboard or an RMM tool to actually look at it. Because it doesn't give you one pane of glass to look at everything, you have to have an RMM tool that can actually see the data coming from Microsoft Defender. If you don't have an RMM tool, you would need one, and that would be an extra cost.

I don't really use an RMM tool. We have a SOC, and I don't really deal with individual computers themselves. In the past, I have used RMM tools, and some of them do well with looking at Microsoft Defender, but my SOC has a really good dashboard that I can use to see what's going on with Microsoft Defender. I can actually control stuff on Microsoft Defender from my SOC.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not used their support for Microsoft Defender. Generally, their support is fine. They've definitely improved and gotten better.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I don't use Microsoft Defender that much. It is built into Windows 10, and if you put the antivirus or endpoint security on, it kind of turns itself off automatically. I've been using Bitdefender lately. I used to use Panda Security, but now I use Bitdefender.

I recommend it for clients who don't want to spend on a different endpoint solution, but I don't put all my eggs in one basket. I don't say that a particular antivirus or endpoint security solution is 10 times better than the other one. I just don't look at things that way because I know the process and what hackers actually go through to get past all of them. So, none of them are that much better. The only thing I tell others is to not use the free ones, but to that defense, they all have a level of reachability.

When it comes to performance, Microsoft Defender is much faster because it really doesn't look at all of the things that are Microsoft-focused. It has a better understanding of what Microsoft has made, whereas other solutions are going to look at anything as a potential threat. It is definitely a better option because it knows Windows. You install another antivirus on Windows, it has to try to figure out the software. Microsoft already knows how Word, OneNote, or their other solutions work. So, Microsoft Defender doesn't need to scan specific things, whereas Bitdefender or another solution doesn't know that, and it is going to scan everything, which can slow your system down. 

I offer a SOC, and we do real-time detection and response. I don't put all my eggs in one basket when it comes to endpoint security. I believe endpoint security needs to be there because it is a layer of security, but it is not everything. The reason I use Bitdefender is that it has more telemetry and more information coming out of it to put into my SOC than Microsoft Defender, which doesn't have as much telemetry coming out of it.

For telemetry or forensics, Microsoft Defender doesn't give you reports. It just does what it does. Microsoft Defender will give you information, but you got to go to the individual device. I can't pull much telemetry information into a SOC. So, if you want to see from where the hacker or the hacking software came in, how it got there, and how it moved unilaterally across the system or network, you may not get all of that with Microsoft Defender, but with the telemetry data that comes out of Bitdefender, you will get more of such information and you can follow its path.

How was the initial setup?

It just comes on a device when you buy it. When you buy a laptop, it is built into Windows 10. They have Windows Security, and there are separate pieces of it. When you look into some of it, it is called Defender. They also have a standalone Windows Defender.

It is a full endpoint security solution, and they have a firewall in there. You can go in there and set different things up for your firewall. When it comes to security, not everything is turned on. You actually have to go in and turn the ransomware part on. There are things about ransomware that you got to turn on, and they really depend on what you need in your practice or business. You have to make sure you go in there and look at it. You can't just set it and forget it. It does come automatically, but you got to go in there and set things up because they know that some things can stop certain aspects of your business from running. So, they don't want to turn everything on. They leave it up to you.

The configuration of those extra parts can get complex, but I do believe it is pretty straightforward. It involves more yes or no type of questions. It is just flipping a switch on each individual part that you want to use. It is just like everything else. You have to test and see if it is going to work in your environment.

In terms of maintenance, all the updates come with Microsoft. Every time they update Windows 10, they also update Microsoft Defender. It is pretty simple.

What was our ROI?

It doesn't really affect my business because the cost goes out to my client either way. If they have 200 devices and they are charged $2 per endpoint for each one of them, that's an extra $400 a month. If they are just using Microsoft Defender built into their systems, that cost goes away for them. My clients are definitely saving money with Microsoft Defender.

It doesn't affect my business because I'm looking at telemetry regardless of the solution. So, it doesn't matter if it is coming from Microsoft Defender or Bitdefender.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It is built into Windows 10. If our clients are using Microsoft Defender, the cost goes away for them.

What other advice do I have?

It is just like anything. You should definitely do your homework and see if it is going to give you the information that you need. You should focus on forensics and the kind of information you are going to get out of Microsoft Defender. Will you get the reporting that you need? Will you get the telemetry and all the data that you need to be able to follow the path of an attack? You need to be able to see that. You need to know this information for your clients because they may need it for the FBI or something else. So, you need as much information as you can. You need to make sure that that you're going to get the information out of there and you have the right setup to be able to see everything with all of your clients. You should have an RMM tool or whatever you're using to be able to see all of your clients, and you need to make sure that you have the setup for that.

Microsoft Defender has been around for many years, and since Windows 10, they've really ramped it up, and it has gotten a lot better. I've seen some of the statistics on it, and it stands up against some of the other solutions out there, such as Norton. They've added things that make it more of an EDR, which is the endpoint detection and response layer. The ransomware was one of the big add-ons, and it is good that they've put that in there. It can stand on its own now.

It has not affected our organization's security posture a lot, but it has given me more options to lower costs for my clients. It has helped my clients and in turn, my business. It has not affected our end-user experience in a negative or a positive way. It is just a tool. I do the monitoring, stopping, blocking, and everything else for clients. 

It can be a good solution, and I hope that they grow with it and do more with it. They can make it simpler for the security and MSP world. If their solution just gets better for the MSP world, it would help everyone.

I would rate Microsoft Defender a seven out of 10 because of its lack of usability for an MSP and its lack of telemetry information, but it is useful, and it does stop ransomware.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Head of IT at a manufacturing company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Provides users protection without impacting their experience

Pros and Cons

  • "Microsoft Defender is always running. It is doing its job, so it is fine. I don't have any issues with the way it was implemented or how we are running it. We have been upgrading IT throughout the years, but there have been no issues."
  • "From an audit point of view, our auditors would like to have more reports on how things are used, if things go wrong, and how they went wrong. For example, if something got a warning, "Why?" So, we would like more versatility for tracing and reporting. That would improve the product, as long as the user interface doesn't get bogged down."

What is our primary use case?

It is the end defense against anything coming into our computers and through other channels, e.g., we have some other measures. A lot of our users use Microsoft Remote Desktop Services, so all our servers are locked down. The solution handles what nothing else finds along the way. It is a standard endpoint for computers, servers, and tablets.

How has it helped my organization?

What the user doesn't see or experience, the user is happy with. Every time our other services go in and put a stop pop-up in front of what they are doing when they want to visit a website, but the browser says, "No," or they are trying to download a link and then says, "Oh, no. This is dangerous," that upsets users because they can't do what they want to do. As long as we don't get any of that, then users are happy. If users don't feel it or know about it, then they are happy. Everything else will make them unhappy.

Our end users expect to be protected and that everything works. When IT doesn't work as they expect, then they get unhappy in some form. We kind of forced this solution upon them, so they don't have a choice. As long as it doesn't meddle with their normal work, they are fine. For example, when GDPR hit us in May of 2018, that was upsetting because they now had to do some of their work a little differently. So, they don't like GDPR because it interferes with their normal workflow. Normally, users come to me if they have issues with anything. However, if everything works as expected, they are happy. In addition, they expect that they are protected.

What is most valuable?

When you have something fail and you have three or four different vendors where the fail might be located, everyone just says, "Well, it's awful." Then, you have to go and find out where the fault is. That is really annoying and can cost the business money. For that reason, if I can have one single point of contact when I have a problem to help me out, and say, "Let's find the solution." That is much better instead of having me contact multiple companies to track errors down.

What needs improvement?

The protection will always need improvement:

  • From a technical standpoint, I would like better artificial intelligence on how it does its stuff in the background. It will always be behind. However, at some point, it would be nice if it could get better. It is not bad, but it could always be better.
  • From an audit point of view, our auditors would like to have more reports on how things are used, if things go wrong, and how they went wrong. For example, if something got a warning, "Why?" So, we would like more versatility for tracing and reporting. That would improve the product, as long as the user interface doesn't get bogged down.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using the current solution since 2014.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had any issues. I haven't had any bad experiences. I expect it to work, and it works. It is just there. For example, when you have Word or the whole Office package, as long as it works, people are happy. You just have it, and you don't have to say, "Oh, this version is really..." It is just Microsoft. For most users, Microsoft is Windows, Defender, and the Office package. As long as you just use that, then people will say, "Okay, we're just basically using Windows." They don't care about one thing or another, as long as IT works.

As long as things are slowly upgraded, it works, and we don't have any issues, then I am happy.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I let my outsource company handle scalability. I only get involved if there are issues.

We have 50-plus servers with around 125 to 150 endpoints.

How are customer service and technical support?

Our consultancy has a deal with Microsoft where they can get access to Microsoft directly. We are part of that deal. When we have issues that need some type of Microsoft input, we can get it. However, I will let the consultancy do that. I wouldn't do that myself.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We use different email solutions and web solutions to handle incoming and outgoing traffic. However, we have not previously used another endpoint protection solution.

How was the initial setup?

In 2014, we upgraded from Windows 7. It was a completely new deployment of everything. Every server, every endpoint, and even the old laptops and desktops were upgraded. So, it wasn't just Defender. Microsoft Defender wasn't really the issue, as it worked. We had a lot of other IT that was annoying, but I don't remember that we had any struggles with Defender.

Microsoft Defender is always running. It is doing its job, so it is fine. I don't have any issues with the way it was implemented or how we are running it. We have been upgrading IT throughout the years, but there have been no issues.

We had a migration deadline set by our mother company. We had to stop using Windows 7 and server 2003 by 15th of June, and we started in April. So, it was done in just under two months right before June 1st.

What about the implementation team?

We are part of the aircraft industry. We have been going downhill for some time, and now we are sort of going up again. At the time of purchase, we simply bought the outsourcing with the solution, meaning we would get this many machines and servers using these services. They kind of supplied everything.

We outsourced the deployment to another company at that point in time, who put up all the consultants and stuff. Before that, we had everything internally and on-premises. At that point, we moved it out still on-premises, but not in our own house. So, we built a separate system, then moved users over.

We didn't have Microsoft in to specifically help us.

The administration of this solution is outsourced. We use a consultancy who has 50-plus employees/consultants. They take care of nearly all services: Defender, Teams, SQL, etc. I then only have to talk to one or two people who are specialized in what needs to be done.

I have been very happy with our current IT services provider. We have had them for about a year. They took over from the old consultancy who installed our IT in 2014. Our current consultancy took over in 2020 because I wasn't so happy with the old guys.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It provides peace of mind with really good pricing. It won't be upsetting my budgets or anything like that.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Our outsourcer handled the decision that we were to use Defender, Remote Desktop Services, etc. They just said, "If you choose us, this will be your solution." It came as a package. Unfortunately, that company was bought by another IT services company, who bogged everything up. The service went downhill and stuff didn't get upgraded. So, we switched to another Danish supplier with whom we currently are happy.

What other advice do I have?

Go for it. It is a standard solution. If you use Windows, you might as well go for Defender. With this solution, you have your normal dependencies within Microsoft. This means that you don't have to talk to another company; you talk directly to Microsoft. Some people might go for something else, and that is fine too. However, depending on how big your company is, if you are a small or medium business, you may want to have as many eggs in one basket to have fewer points of contacts.

It is a good endpoint. All the administration is handed over to our outsource partner. So far, it has been good. We have been using it for years, so it is the de facto standard for us right now.

As far as I know, its capabilities are okay. It is up there with the rest of them. Sometimes, this is what Gartner says is the best, the next best, the 10th best, etc. That will always change. As long as we don't get hit, we are fine. If we get hit, then there are questions around what we can expect from it, what we can get out of it, what help did we get, etc., but I would let my outsource partner deal with that. Directly, I don't have my hands on it.

I would rate this solution as an eight out of 10.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Joerg Aulenbach
IT Administrator at DM-Drogerie Markt
Real User
Top 10
A seamless solution for Windows with good reporting and performance

Pros and Cons

  • "The whole bundle of the product, which is similar to other Microsoft products, is valuable. Ten years ago, you had third-party stuff for different things. You had one solution for email archiving and another third-party one for something else. Nowadays, Microsoft Office covers all the stuff that was formerly covered by third-party solutions. It is the same with antivirus. The functionality is just basic. You have the scanning, and then you also have a kind of cloud-based protection and reporting about your environment. With Microsoft Security Center, you have a complete overview of your environment. You know the software inventory, and you have security recommendations. You can not only see that the antivirus is up to date; you can also see where are the vulnerabilities in your system. Microsoft Security Center tells you where you have old, deprecated software and what kind of CVEs are addressed. It's really cool stuff."
  • "We encountered some misbehavior between Microsoft Office Suite and Defender. We had issues of old macros being blocked and some stuff going around the usage of Win32 APIs. There is some improvement between the Office products and Defender, and there is a bunch of stuff that you can configure in your antivirus solutions, but you have several baselines, such as security baselines for Edge, security baselines for Defender, and security baselines for MDM. You have configuration profiles as well. So, there a lot of parts where we can configure our antivirus solution, and we're getting conflicting configurations. This is the major part with which we're struggling in this solution. We are having calls and calls with Microsoft for getting rid of all configuration conflicts that we have. That's really the part that needs to be improved."

What is our primary use case?

We are one of the major drug stores in Germany. We are located in 13 European countries such as Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Poland. I'm working here as an IT Administrator, and I'm focusing on software deployment and antivirus solutions.

Our use case is that we got to have antivirus. Cyber insurance forces us to have an antivirus solution that meets the requirements the insurance has. 

In terms of deployment, we're using Defender without ATP in the old world. For domain-joined clients and on the Intune-managed clients, we use Defender in combination with ATP. The on-prem clients are usually old-school domain-joined clients.

We have its latest version. We always try to be at the newest version.

How has it helped my organization?

In the old world, we have Defender in combination with SCCM. It's not as good as Security Center, but you have all the reporting stuff that tells you whether your clients are up-to-date or not. The ATP Security Center is the mercy dispense of antivirus solutions because it is so much more than just antivirus. Microsoft Security Center comes with the ATP license, and it provides a really compact but whole view of your tenant and the vulnerabilities in your tenant. I feel that my administration got more proactive than just reacting. I can see that my Office is not up-to-date, or a client is using the old version of Firefox or Adobe Reader. So, Security Center tells me all this, and I can proactively update these clients and have a look at the bad guys in my environment. That was the part that McAfee never showed. I could see my clients with old signature files or engines, but McAfee Orchestrator didn't show the actual vulnerability of the client, which is the great benefit of Microsoft Security Center.

What is most valuable?

The whole bundle of the product, which is similar to other Microsoft products, is valuable. Ten years ago, you had third-party stuff for different things. You had one solution for email archiving and another third-party one for something else. Nowadays, Microsoft Office covers all the stuff that was formerly covered by third-party solutions. It is the same with antivirus. The functionality is just basic. You have the scanning, and then you also have a kind of cloud-based protection and reporting about your environment. With Microsoft Security Center, you have a complete overview of your environment. You know the software inventory, and you have security recommendations. You can not only see that the antivirus is up to date; you can also see where are the vulnerabilities in your system. Microsoft Security Center tells you where you have old, deprecated software and what kind of CVEs are addressed. It's really cool stuff.

What needs improvement?

We encountered some misbehavior between Microsoft Office Suite and Defender. We had issues of old macros being blocked and some stuff going around the usage of Win32 APIs. There is some improvement between the Office products and Defender, and there is a bunch of stuff that you can configure in your antivirus solutions, but you have several baselines, such as security baselines for Edge, security baselines for Defender, and security baselines for MDM. You have configuration profiles as well. So, there a lot of parts where we can configure our antivirus solution, and we're getting conflicting configurations. This is the major part with which we're struggling in this solution. We are having calls and calls with Microsoft for getting rid of all configuration conflicts that we have. That's really the part that needs to be improved. 

It would be cool to have just one interface or only one or two locations where you configure the stuff. Currently, they have three locations where you can configure your antivirus. Three locations are too much, and there is too much conflict. It is not a one-to-one configuration. There are some configuration settings that you can only do in SCCM. You don't find them in MDM. So, it's not always one-to-one. 

The last point of improvement is related to the quality of service that Microsoft provides. The quality of service that Microsoft provides should be improved.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Defender for two years. Two years ago, we migrated from McAfee Endpoint Protection to Defender Antivirus. This migration process took us one year to migrate all systems. So, we're now totally on Microsoft Defender on all workstations and servers.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability and deployment always depend on how many of your clients are online. There is no problem with the scalability and deployments of servers because they are online 24/7, but client management is different than server management. We are located in 13 countries, and we have about 9,000 clients. Of course, they are not always online because of which you're always struggling with your client management. 

How are customer service and technical support?

If you open a call with Microsoft, you're in God's hands. Some of their engineers are top-notch and some are not. We have some strange calls going on for weeks and months, and nothing is happening. There are always the same questions. The quality of service that Microsoft provides should be improved.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We migrated from McAfee Endpoint Protection to Defender Antivirus. I worked with ePolicy Orchestrator from McAfee for almost 20 years. The user interface of McAfee was fine, but the hassle began with Windows 10. Updating McAfee and the endpoint security stuff was always a hassle. We had to update all the McAfee stuff before having a feature update, so we were always in this hassle of the update process of either McAfee or Windows. Defender is a seamless solution for Windows. 

Microsoft has done a lot to improve Defender. There are not so many differences between basic scanners. If you look at the Gartner studies, Defender has really improved a lot. It came out one or one and a half years before we started to migrate our clients to Intune MDM solution, and within this migration to MDM managed clients, we also established advanced threat protection (ATP) with Defender. It met our requirements perfectly, and we did penetration testing for the solution, and it turned out to be perfect. 

How was the initial setup?

The deployment process is okay. Of course, you always struggle at several points, but overall, the deployment is fine for Defender.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated a lot of different scanners, such as Passkey. McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator now comes with the option to integrate within Microsoft Security Center, but McAfee came up with its solution a little bit too late. 

In the on-prem world, we are using Microsoft Defender in combination with the endpoint manager to SCCM, and it is fine. I really prefer the interface of McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator, but it doesn't have as many benefits as Microsoft Defender in combination with SCCM.

What other advice do I have?

In terms of the end-user experience, end-users don't like to be bothered with the virus scan. A virus scan is always annoying for the end-user. An end-user cannot actually configure the antivirus and only gets a notification if something is wrong or some malware is found. That's it. There is not really an end-user experience.

The performance of the client is fine with Defender. We are not encountering many performance issues or any serious issues with Defender. When we turned over to Defender, some of the applications that were functioning absolutely flawlessly with McAfee started to have serious performance issues. So, we had to define an exclusion list for some of the processes or applications, but there are always some applications that needed exclusions for McAfee or Defender.

I would rate Microsoft Defender for Endpoint an eight out of 10.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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MD
Azure Engineer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
Integrates well with Microsoft technologies, but needs direct integration for USB control

Pros and Cons

  • "It depends on the licensing. Most of the customers have got at least a 365 E3 license, and they can use most of the features of Windows 10 Defender. So, anyone who has got an enterprise license can start using those features. Some of the customers have got E5 licenses, and they can use all advanced features. Customers with E5 licenses use the advanced site protection (ATP) features and web content filtering without going via a proxy, which gives the benefit of replacing the proxy. They can get the benefit of MCAS and integration with Intune and the endpoint manager. It is a kind of single platform for all 365 technologies. It helps customers in managing everything through a unified portal."
  • "I would like Microsoft to have some kind of direct integration for USB controls. They have GPO and other controls to control the access of the USB drives on devices, but if there is something that can be directly implemented into the portal, it would be good. There should be a way to control via a cloud portal or something like that in a dynamic way. USB control for data exfiltration would be a good feature to implement. Currently, there are ways to do it, but it involves too many different things. You have to implement it via GPOs and other stuff, and then you move or copy those big files via Defender ATP. If there is a simple way of implementing those features, it would be great."

What is our primary use case?

Our clients use it for antivirus and anti-malware purposes.

What is most valuable?

It depends on the licensing. Most of the customers have got at least a 365 E3 license, and they can use most of the features of Windows 10 Defender. So, anyone who has got an enterprise license can start using those features. Some of the customers have got E5 licenses, and they can use all advanced features. Customers with E5 licenses use the advanced site protection (ATP) features and web content filtering without going via a proxy, which gives the benefit of replacing the proxy. They can get the benefit of MCAS and integration with Intune and the endpoint manager. It is a kind of single platform for all 365 technologies. It helps customers in managing everything through a unified portal.

Normally, we implement the attack surface reduction (ASR) rules and exploit protections. We also use Microsoft Defender Application Guard and ad blocker. Instead of using the application control list, we use the ad blocker at most of the places.

What needs improvement?

What I've heard from the customers is that the anti-malware engine is not up to date. So, sometimes, it may not detect such threats. I, however, haven't got any data to show for this.

Its licensing can be better. Currently, customers with the E3 license cannot use many features, and they would like those features to be available. With Windows 10 E5, Microsoft is phasing out all the functionality. They have also made a lot of changes recently where you can also buy add-ons for Defender ATP, but for Office 365, ADT, and other stuff, you still require E5 licensing. If they can improve its licensing, it would definitely be helpful in implementing the features from the security point of view. E5 definitely has more features from the security point of view.

I would like Microsoft to have some kind of direct integration for USB controls. They have GPO and other controls to control the access of the USB drives on devices, but if there is something that can be directly implemented into the portal, it would be good. There should be a way to control via a cloud portal or something like that in a dynamic way. USB control for data exfiltration would be a good feature to implement. Currently, there are ways to do it, but it involves too many different things. You have to implement it via GPOs and other stuff, and then you move or copy those big files via Defender ATP. If there is a simple way of implementing those features, it would be great.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been recommending Defender to customers for Windows 10 and helping them in implementing it for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is okay in terms of stability. I haven't seen any issues. Even if you go for a third-party vendor as your primary anti-malware software, you can get the benefit of Defender in a passive mode. 

I am an Azure engineer, and I work with an architect to design the solutions. I'm not a security person, and I don't know whether it catches all the new malware that comes into the IT world, and how quickly it gets updated because it is not my area of work as I'm not an SEC OP admin. I have read a few articles mentioning that the engine might only be 80% or 90% up to date. Obviously, no engine is 100% up to date, but it is still a little bit behind some of the third-party vendors. 

How are customer service and technical support?

We haven't used their support much, but one of my colleagues has had some problems, and I think he didn't get good support from Microsoft. So, obviously, it depends on what kind of support engineer you have been assigned. Sometimes, it can be difficult. It is not only applicable to Defender; it could be with any of the products.

How was the initial setup?

While implementing the ASR rules and other things, if you don't put it in the audit mode and don't do proper discovery, then it can definitely break lots of applications. You need to adhere to the implementation guidelines for ASR rules. So, proper analysis definitely needs to be done before implementing those rules because it can affect the business functionality.

Its deployment can take from few weeks to months depending on the size of the organization. In terms of the implementation strategy, we start with the pilot key users, and we deploy those policies. We also deploy ASR rules and other exploit protection rules in the audit mode, instead of directly enabling them. We then monitor the resources in terms of what can be blocked or what can get impacted by those rules. After that, we work with the users to implement it and see whether it breaks anything. If it breaks, then we look at the solutions. After we are happy with all those solutions and we know that enabling it won't break anything on a business side, we just roll it out.

What was our ROI?

Our clients are definitely seeing an ROI. Some of the clients have already got the licenses, and they can use lots of features of their Defender ATP. They are basically saving the cost of not going with a third-party solution.

Some of the clients who already had another third-party solution are also moving to Defender ATP because they already have the licenses, and they can save the cost on those. One of our clients is using ESET. They have the ESET standard version, so they are not getting any of the other features. They already have an E5 license to use all Defender ATP features. So, obviously, it would be beneficial for them to go with Defender ATP.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did a little bit of comparison with Sophos. Sophos also offers cloud and network protection, but it would be an extra cost to buy it if you already have a license of Defender ATP. With Sophos, the USB features are a part of the cloud solution. So, you can configure USB restrictions and other things in the Sophos portal. With Defender, you will have to implement the USB security features via GPO or something else.

What other advice do I have?

I would definitely recommend others to go with Defender ATP if they have got the licenses because it can give them a wide range of security controls. It is integrated with Office portals and Microsoft monitoring systems, so they get the sensors from different places. We haven't come across any security threats yet. From the point of view of its theory, implementation, and architecture, Defender ATP and other ATP integrations would definitely help customers in controlling their organization and implementing the best security rules and policies.

It hasn't affected the user experience much for our customers. Customers only see the notification pop up saying that Defender hasn't found anything and things like that.

I would rate Microsoft Defender for Endpoint a seven out of 10.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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Nirav Kumar
Cyber Security Specialist at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 10
Automated Investigation and Response reduces workload of our SOC analysts, but lacks integration customization

Pros and Cons

  • "One of the features which differentiates it from other EDR providers is the Automated Investigation and Response, which reduces the workload of SOC analysts or engineers. They don't have to manually investigate each and every alert on the endpoint, since it does so automatically. And you can automate the investigation part."
  • "Other vendors provide a lot of customization when it comes to integration, which every big organization requires. No big organization depends on one particular tool. Defender lacks that at this point."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for endpoint detection and response.

The agent is installed on the endpoint, on the laptop or desktop, but it's a SaaS solution.

How has it helped my organization?

One feature that has proven beneficial is the Threat and Vulnerability Management module of Defender for Endpoint, which provides information on the vulnerability of all the endpoints. We don't have to run active scans via network scanners. It is built-in. That has proven to be helpful, although we're still in the early phases. We have identified vulnerabilities that were in our organization for too long and nobody knew about those machines and the vulnerabilities on them. From a vulnerability remediation point of view, it has been quite helpful to us.

What is most valuable?

One of the features which differentiates it from other EDR providers is the Automated Investigation and Response, which reduces the workload of SOC analysts or engineers. They don't have to manually investigate each and every alert on the endpoint, since it does so automatically. And you can automate the investigation part.

In addition, there are several features that have helped to improve our security posture at the prevention level, such as the attack surface reduction controls and the exploit prevention control. The attack surface reduction comes with the solution, out-of-the-box. There is Application Control as well, which is kind of difficult to implement, but once you are through the pain of designing and implementing it, it is one of the very good features to have. These tools are some of the things that are missing from other vendors' products, as I have worked with McAfee, Symantec and Carbon Black.

What needs improvement?

One area for improvement is that, because it comes out-of-the-box, it does not interact well with many applications we have developed in-house. There is no way to exclude them because it interacts with everything on the endpoint. One of the issues is lagging: the in-house-developed applications suffer from this and they become slow. For a big enterprise, it is important that they include a feature so that we can exclude these applications.

Another area where it could be improved is that, while it collects a lot of data, it misses some data, which is important, such as the hardware version of the endpoint and the AV signature version. I think this improvement is in the Microsoft pipeline already but it is not in the solution yet.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Microsoft Defender for Endpoint for around one and a half years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has been quite stable up until now. It does not break. Microsoft is developing on it quite frequently and more and more features are coming in, but overall it is quite stable. It does not break that often.

As we have moved away from Microsoft Defender Antivirus and to the EDR solution, we have seen very few issues so far that users have faced with this. There have been very occasional performance issues for some users, but they have been very rare.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is one thing which, I think, Microsoft is working on, because it is not yet very scalable. What it provides out-of-the-box is all it has. Any big organization needs customization, but the customization of it and running customized things on top of it are areas where it is lagging. That something Microsoft needs to work on. Examples include running custom playbooks or customizing the events which it is collecting.

We are protecting 100,000 endpoints with this solution. We may increase usage, but there is no plan for that as of yet.

How are customer service and technical support?

Microsoft technical support is good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Before Microsoft Defender for Endpoint we had Carbon Black. But when I came onboard, Defender for Endpoint had already been chosen.

How was the initial setup?

The setup process is not very complex, but it is also not very straightforward. It depends what solutions you have. If you have everything set up, which is usually the case for big organizations, then it is pretty smooth. But if there are some things that are not set up properly in the organization, like certain parts of the infra or the cloud onboarding, then it becomes cumbersome, not the installation part, but in setting up the backend which it needs.

Our implementation strategy was that we started with a few pilot machines, to onboard Defender for Endpoint. We noticed that we had around 70 to 80 percent failures. It was a learning phase and we identified the root cause of those failures. There are some settings in Defender AV that need tweaking when you want to onboard Defender for Endpoint. We struggled to tweak those settings, but once that was done, it went pretty smoothly for the next couple of pilots. Then we encountered another roadblock which was related to an OS version dependency.

Overall, it took us about one month to onboard the solution, but we are weak in infra.

What about the implementation team?

We had our consultant from Microsoft for the implementation. The engagement went on for three to four months. But one thing we noticed from this project was that it did not need a consultant. It was not that difficult to do. Maybe we did not get an expert consultant because, for solving issues, he also took time.

In addition to doing onboarding, we wanted our third-party integrations, but that was something they could not do because they were Microsoft. We had to do that ourselves. Over that three or four months, we realized that we didn't need them.

Microsoft consultancy is good and bad. If you get good consultants, they are really good. But sometimes you get consultants who are not expert enough in their domains and you don't get enough from them.

What was our ROI?

We have not seen ROI yet, but we are hopeful that in the future it will provide that.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

One of the differences between other solutions I have used and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is that the latter is not yet enterprise-ready to the same extent that the other vendors are. Other vendors provide a lot of customization when it comes to integration, which every big organization requires. No big organization depends on one particular tool. Defender lacks that at this point.

What other advice do I have?

Defender for Endpoint is marketed as an endpoint detection and response tool, but for others who are looking at onboarding it, they should take it as a holistic tool that provides AV, EDR, and vulnerability management all in one. However, it does not provide very good integration with third parties.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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TG
Security Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
Top 20
Makes monitoring a lot easier and minimizes on-prem administration

Pros and Cons

  • "DFE organizational security posture has been a positive experience. We're a Microsoft house. It works. Once it's deployed and once it's configured, it works and our clients tend to be happy with it. I haven't really experienced anyone who has been so unsatisfied with the platform that they wanted to go a couple of different directions, that has never happened to me."
  • "Monitoring can always be better, onboarding can be a little bit faster, log collection could be easier, they could streamline the dashboard. They could maybe split it up into different workspaces and have the ability to segment groups a little bit more."

What is our primary use case?

The area that I focus on the most is Endpoint Protection. We use Intune to build custom devices and configurations, to push out group policies, and do quite a bit with Azure Log Analytics.  

I'm writing a script from a multi-home deployment of the MMA Agent. The use case varies a lot, depending on the clients' needs. Our clients tend to be pretty big companies. The smallest client I have is about 600 people. Our biggest client is about 50,000.

How has it helped my organization?

DFE organizational security posture has been a positive experience. We're a Microsoft house. It works. Once it's deployed and once it's configured, it works and our clients tend to be happy with it. I haven't really experienced anyone who has been so unsatisfied with the platform that they wanted to go a couple of different directions, that has never happened to me.

What is most valuable?

It's Microsoft native. Microsoft is the corporate default, so it makes sense to use security platforms that are baked into the Microsoft platform. That's probably the most valuable aspect of it.

It has specific features that improve our customer's security posture. It makes the monitoring a lot easier and minimizes on-prem administration. A lot of the administrative stuff is all folded into Azure. It makes things easier.

The platform just makes things easier compared to on-prem or hybrid solutions because if you start working in an on-prem solution, most of the time it's going to be a battlefield. 

DFE affects the end-user experience when it's deployed. The more freedom a user has on the device, the more they're used to doing things their own way. By locking things down, by having device configurations, you disrupt the workflow. You need a lot of user education where you have to explain why you're doing these things. I'm a part of security. It's twofold, in that users have to get used to the new configurations. And the reason why we might take a little bit longer with pilot phases is that we have to identify how it'll affect the users and how the differences of different business units will be affected. Developers need a more open environment than other solutions.

What needs improvement?

Everything can always be improved. Improvements would depend on the client. 

Monitoring can always be better, onboarding can be a little bit faster, log collection could be easier, they could streamline the dashboard. They could maybe split it up into different workspaces and have the ability to segment groups a little bit more.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Microsoft Defender for Endpoint on and off for about three or four years. 

It's only the last two and a half years that it's been a big part of my job.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Microsoft has some creative accounting when they promise an SLA of 99.99%. But it is generally good. There's always going to be a problem with the cloud. If it works 99% of the time, that's great.

The frustrating thing is, you're not sure if there's a problem with your configuration or if the service itself is down because Microsoft tends to only report that the service is down much later than when you started experiencing things. So sometimes I have to jump onto a private forum or a Slack channel and ask other consultants if they experienced something similar. But when it works, it works. There's never going to be a cloud solution that has 100% uptime.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is fine. I mainly work with implementation, so I haven't really had to mess around with the scalability. I'm responsible for setting up security policies, and then if they want to do scalability, that's another team. I sit in security.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't worked with support. I generally don't use Microsoft Support.

We were Microsoft partners last year. We're gold partners where we won security partners of the year, so we have an account manager. If it really hits the fan, then I would just talk to him. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I've been an IaaS specialist since I began my career. I've done Apple MDM solutions and I've done Google Workspace, but when it comes to actual IaaS, I can't really compare. Because we're a Microsoft house, we generally don't use third parties or competitors.

How was the initial setup?

The complexity of the setup depends on the environment. If it's Greenfield, it's super easy. I've been doing this for two to three years now. Most of the time it's easy. The larger companies have more complex networks and systems. The smaller the company, the easier it is to deploy.

The beginning of the project, like scoping, implementation, the entire process, or just the actual deployment depends on the size of the company. For smaller companies, we'll push some policies out. We'll do a week or two of a pilot phase where we identify different stakeholders and different business units. We collect feedback from them, keep an eye out on the audit logs and if that goes well, then we go into phase two, which takes another week or two where we slowly push out, if it's an accounting department with 60 people, then we'll do batches of 20. We'll have a pilot group of five and then we'll push it out to 20 people at a time.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The project managers worry about the licenses. I get my scope, I know the limitations I have to work with, and then I just make a solution based on that. I'm a very technical consultant and I don't really care about licenses, that doesn't really have anything to do with me.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be to start small, don't start a project thinking that it's the best solution, and bowl it out straight away. Take your time. Don't think that you'll be able to incorporate the platform within a month, although that would depend on the size of your business. Take your time, there's no rush, be patient. Because there will always be some problems.

I would rate it an eight out of ten. 

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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