What is Microsoft Defender and Why Do You Need It for Your Business?

Whether your organization is a small or medium-sized business (SMB) or a large enterprise, Microsoft Defender is a robust and cost-effective antimalware option that’s available in multiple versions to address a variety of cybersecurity needs and requirements. The advanced threat protection (ATP)-grade software capably prevents, detects and responds to attacks across a wealth of targets, including smartphones, desktops, laptops and tablets, servers, users and identities, applications and programs, email and attachments, files and data and cloud environments. 

Microsoft Defender’s Many Varieties

Many businesses, while familiar with the Microsoft Defender Antivirus app that was included with Windows 10, are surprised to discover there are now numerous and varied Microsoft Defender options, including: 

  • Microsoft Defender – Designed for individuals and families and included with Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions, the basic but capable Microsoft Defender app provides an online dashboard to assist monitoring computers, review corresponding alerts, provide security recommendations and aid protecting user identities, data and devices—including Android, macOS, iOS and Windows systems—from common threats. 
  • Microsoft Defender for Business – With time-saving setup wizards, comprehensive security policies and robust cyberthreat prevention, protection and response features, Microsoft Defender for Business offers organizations a cost-effective solution that can be bundled with other Microsoft 365 services and that includes endpoint protection for Windows and Linux servers. 
  • Microsoft 365 Defender – Designed to integrate well within broader Microsoft 365 services environments, Microsoft 365 Defender enhances security operations within larger firms by adding extended detection and response (XDR) technology, expanded endpoint visibility, phishing and business email compromise protection, cross-domain attack prevention and automated mitigation and recovery capabilities. 
  • Microsoft Defender for Cloud – Designed to assist organizations in securing multicloud and hybrid environments, Microsoft Defender for Cloud reduces effort required to manage cybersecurity administration while also preventing, detecting and rapidly responding to threats and unifying security management initiatives (including within development environments). 
  • Microsoft Defender for Endpoint – Larger organizations running multiple platforms and solutions will find Microsoft Defender for Endpoint a scalable option, as this Defender iteration and cloud-based solution protects Windows, macOS, iOS, Android and Linux systems from ransomware threats with its automated investigation and remediation routines, endpoint detection and response capabilities and next generation advanced threat management technologies. 
  • Microsoft Defender for Identity – Aimed at reducing larger organizations’ attack surfaces, Microsoft Defender for Identity boasts real-time identity risk detection while also correlating alerts with Microsoft 365 Defender activity to help firms respond intelligently to threats (including with robust automated responses). 
  • Microsoft Defender for Office 365 – With its focus on email and Microsoft Teams collaboration safeguards, Microsoft Defender for Office 365 provides advanced threat protection against phishing, business email compromise, ransomware and similar threats thanks to its artificial intelligence-powered automated XDR features. 
  • Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps – Designed to assist organizations in securing Software as a Service (SaaS) apps, Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps simplifies tracking, managing and securing a variety of SaaS programs and managing and administering the ways in which these apps access and interact with one another. 
  • Microsoft Defender for IoT – Targeting the myriad devices often connected to corporate networks, Microsoft Defender for IoT aids generating real-time alerts, managing threats and protecting industrial infrastructure. 
  • Microsoft Defender Vulnerability Management – Touting a risk-based approach to vulnerability management, Microsoft Defender Vulnerability Management aids larger firms in reducing and prioritizing the risks, as well as mitigating and recovering from events, that typically plague cloud-based processes, workflows and systems. 

The need for these different Microsoft Defender cybersecurity options varies depending upon each organization’s requirements. Firms’ size, industry, location and systems all impact determining which solution within Microsoft’s Defender lineup proves most beneficial. 

Microsoft Defender for Business

For many SMBs, Microsoft Defender for Business is an appropriate fit. The plan is also one of the most common choices. The subscription’s features provide necessary safeguards within SMB environments due to their protection against malicious online websites, enhanced visibility, improved response time, ability to recognize and arrest emerging threats, automated investigation and mitigation features and capacity to effectively track vulnerabilities across an organization’s endpoints and systems. Because the corresponding licenses can be bundled with other Microsoft services and can be used for up to five devices and endpoints per user, the cybersecurity solution is also a cost-effective and easily administered option. 

Microsoft 365 Business Premium: Yet Another Defender Option

Microsoft 365 Business Premium is another popular SMB subscription choice. While this Microsoft 365 plan does not include Defender within its name, the subscription bundles the antimalware solution with the frequently used desktop and web versions of Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word, Microsoft Teams, 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage per user, file encryption capabilities and Exchange email and SharePoint services, among other features. Microsoft 365 Business Premium is particularly compelling for many SMBs due to its support for a wide variety of Windows platforms—including Windows 8.1, Windows 10 and Windows 11—as well as Android, iOS, macOS and Windows devices and endpoints. 

Two Other Popular Defender Choices

Microsoft 365 Defender and Microsoft Defender for Office 365 are yet two more Microsoft 365 platforms sometimes chosen by SMBs. Because previous antimalware solutions no longer prove sufficient and lack the advanced threat protection capabilities—including the AI- and machine learning (ML)-features that help make Microsoft Defender a more potent and effective safeguard—SMBs require a more contemporary solution that also delivers effective reporting, alerting and automated response capabilities. 

The Microsoft 365 Defender option, which adds XDR capabilities to assist improving endpoint, identity, cloud and email systems, further simplifies administration by reducing unnecessary cybersecurity event information and actively searching for threats across an organization’s often widely distributed endpoints, networks and systems. The option also prevents cross-domain attacks and hackers’ efforts to compromise business email systems—a common target—and prevent malicious actors from establishing a persistent presence within a network. Because licensing options also present an opportunity to lower corresponding security expenses by as much as 60 percent, due to the manner in Which Microsoft bundles the various corresponding security components, the subscription is also cost effective. 

Yet another option sometimes chosen by SMBs, Defender for Office 365’s integrated threat protection platform provides another way to strengthen email security and business email compromise efforts using native technologies that seek to automatically stop detected attacks. The platform also provides additional phishing protection by safeguarding Microsoft Teams collaboration with its unified XDR technology. Included AI and automation features provide higher accuracy than traditional antimalware solutions, while also leveraging learning gains to better understand a company’s overall threat surfaces, in part thanks to automated workflows and improved analytics. As with other Microsoft Defender technologies, the ability to bundle Microsoft Defender for Office 365’s capabilities with other Microsoft services can help organizations reduce corresponding cybersecurity expenses (again, by as much as 60 percent according to Microsoft). 

Need Help Taking Advantage of Microsoft 365 Defender within Your Business?

Microsoft 365 subscriptions and licensing can prove confusing. This is particularly true for businesses operating outside the technology industry, which is most SMBs. Louisville Geek is happy to help. Our technicians and engineers can review your organization’s existing licenses and needs and, in many cases, identify opportunities to better bundle Microsoft 365 services in ways that include Microsoft Defender cybersecurity protections. Call us at 502-897-7577 or email [email protected] to learn more.