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Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks vs Microsoft Defender for Endpoint comparison

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Executive Summary
Updated on March 20, 2022

We performed a comparison between Cortex XDR by Palo Alto networks and Microsoft defender for endpoint based on our users’ reviews in four categories. After reading all of the collected data, you can find our conclusion below.

  • Ease of Deployment: Most users of both solutions feel that deploying them is relatively easy and straightforward. With few exceptions, users of Microsoft Defender for Endpoint feel that the fact that it is built into Windows 10 makes it much easier to roll out.
  • Features: Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks users find it to be reliable and point out that it has many valuable features, including its centralized dashboard and its ability to integrate with other solutions. However, there are users who feel that its reporting capabilities could be improved.

    Users of Microsoft Defender for Endpoint find it to be reliable and point out that it has many valuable features, including the control that it provides by being built into Windows and its automated threat investigation and response. However, users note that it should provide better support for third-party solutions.
  • Pricing: Most users of Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks feel that it is an expensive solution. Reviewers of Microsoft Defender for Endpoint point out that it is integrated into Windows, which reduces the cost of the solution.
  • Service and Support: Users of both solutions note that, for the most part, they are supported by excellent technological support teams.

Comparison of Results: Based on the parameters we compared, Microsoft Defender for Endpoint seems to be a slightly superior solution. All other things being more or less equal, our reviewers found Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks rather expensive to purchase. Some reviewers also felt that the ease of deployment could be improved.

To learn more, read our detailed Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks vs. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint report (Updated: July 2022).
Buyer's Guide
Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks vs. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint
July 2022
Find out what your peers are saying about Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks vs. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint and other solutions. Updated: July 2022.
621,548 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Q&A Highlights
Question: How is Cortex XDR compared with Microsoft Defender?
Answer: Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is a cloud-delivered endpoint security solution. The tool reduces the attack surface, applies behavioral-based endpoint protection and response, and includes risk-based vulnerability management. We liked that Defender was configured on all computers that connected to the network. This helped us to protect all the computers without having to install them on each one of them. The centralized management was the best feature. It was great at proactively monitoring threats. It was a bit inconvenient when the software did system scans on a client during business hours, at random. It was also difficult to run the SmartScreen feature and trying to install other software. We also found that it is impossible to delete a computer manually. Palo Alto Cortex XDR is a solution for detection and response, integrating network, endpoint, and cloud data to prevent advanced threats. Cortex XDR uses behavioral analytics to detect threats and discover the root cause. It provides endpoint protection by blocking malware, exploits, and fileless attacks. We were using Microsoft Defender but switched to Cortex because of the visibility it provides, with a complete picture of each attack that allows us to respond faster to alerts. We found it provides a wider range of scenarios, working on every device that can connect with the Internet. However, Cortex could improve the context it gives to behavior-based alerts. We would also like to see an easier integration with Mac. Conclusions Microsoft Defender is best suited for Windows-based networks. It is currently difficult to implement and integrate with other environments, like Mac. While its centralized management is a good feature, it lacks flexibility. Cortex is easier to use, and the interface is more intuitive. It suited us most because of the flexibility of integration, and it excels in its prevention abilities.
Featured Review
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
Pros
"I'm only using the AMP (advanced malware protection) which is protecting my file system from all the malicious things that might happen. It should protect all kinds of things that might happen on the servers, things that I cannot see.""It is extensive in terms of providing visibility and insights into threats. It allows for research into a threat, and you can chart your progress on how you're resolving it.""Among the most valuable features are the exclusions. And on the scalability side, we can integrate well with the SIEM orchestration engine and a number of applications that are proprietary or open source.""Device Trajectory is one of the most valuable features. We're able to dig in and really understand how things came to be and where to focus our efforts.""The entirety of our network infrastructure is Cisco and the most valuable feature is the integration.""The threat Grid with the ability to observe the sandboxing, analyze, and perform investigations of different malicious files has been great.""The biggest lesson that I have learned from using this product is that there is a lot more malware slipping through my email filters than I expected.""The most valuable feature is signature-based malware detection."

More Cisco Secure Endpoint Pros →

"Monitoring is most valuable.""The most valuable feature is that you can select remote access of any machine for sandboxing.""Threat identification and detection are the most valuable features of this solution.""The integrations are out-of-the-box, as are the playbooks.""Cortex XDR's most valuable feature is its intelligence-based dashboards.""Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks should be a stable solution.""I've found the solution to be highly scalable for enterprises.""The management capabilities, allow an IT organization to get quite a good picture of attempted cyber attacks."

More Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks Pros →

"The installation is straightforward.""It's a very solid security system, and the advanced hunting and everything really lets you dive deep into things.""This solution definitely increases our security posture. When you are reviewing your existing fleet or endpoints and based on the configuration that you put out of your Defender for Endpoint, you then receive a security score from Microsoft. Depending on what rules you have configured, what policies you have deployed, and what attack surface reduction rules that you have set up and deployed, it is almost gamifying information security in the sense that you are always trying to achieve a higher score. The more hardening you perform on your endpoints, the better score you receive. This generally tends to give you a better peace of mind, but also makes you secure at the same time.""It can reach our applications and PC activities in the cloud.""We are able to productively integrate with existing on-prem, hybrid, or cloud applications.""The solution can scale as needed.""It's an enterprise solution that provides a centralized console and it supports all the platforms that we use, including Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, and Android.""We are a Microsoft shop, and Defender is a Microsoft solution that provides some security at a reasonable cost."

More Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Pros →

Cons
"We had a lot of noise at the beginning, and we had to turn it down based on exclusions, application whitelisting, and excluding unknown benign applications. Cisco should understand the need for continuous updates on the custom Cisco exclusions and the custom applications that come out-of-the-box with the AMP for Endpoints.""We don't have issues. We think that Cisco covers all of the security aspects on the market. They continue to innovate in the right way.""The thing I hate the most, which they have not fixed, is when it creates duplicate entries within a console. If you have a computer and you upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10, or you upgrade your agent from version 6 to 7, it creates a new instance in there instead of updating the information. Instead of paying a license for one computer, I have to license two computers until I manually go in, search for all the duplicate entries, and clean them out myself.""In Orbital, there are tons of prebuilt queries, but there is not a lot of information in lay terms. There isn't enough information to help us with what we're looking for and why we are looking for it with this query. There are probably a dozen queries in there that really focus on what I need to focus on, but they are not always easy to find the first time through.""They could improve the main dashboard to more clearly show me the things that I want to see. When I open the dashboard right now, I see a million things and they are not always the things that I need.""I would like to see integration with Cisco Analytics.""In terms of the user experience, if the UX design could be much simpler [that would improve things]... if they could make it more intuitive for someone who is not an engineer so that they still can read what's going on in their webpage and understand, that would be something.""This product has issues with the number of false positives that it reports."

More Cisco Secure Endpoint Cons →

"They've been having some issues with updating their endpoint agents, and it has been quite frustrating.""Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks can improve mobile integration to allow access to the console.""The solution lacks real-time, on-demand antivirus.""We have found that there are times Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks does not detect some of the viruses, we have to use another protection solution called Kaspersky.""We would also like to have advanced tech protection and email scanning.""In general, the price could be more competitive.""Cortex does not offer an on-premises solution. However, some customers would prefer not to be on the cloud. It would be ideal if it could offer something on-prem as well.""I would like to see them include NDR (Network Detection Response)."

More Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks Cons →

"It's not quite a mature solution just yet. It needs more time to grow and develop.""The reporting in Microsoft Defender for Endpoint should improve. The solution has limited features.""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.""We encountered some issues when we were trying to enable automatic updates from our group policy.""We would like more customization.""This solution is not secure, which is why I have moved to Linux.""Microsoft Defender in the basic form is not very useful for managing the security environment. The free version is not capable of covering the needs of centralized management, EDR, and behavioral analysis. If you don't have the commercial version, you can't have centralized management and set up the policies and other things. Each client is a standalone installation, which is not useful for security in an enterprise model.""Windows Firewall is integrated with Windows Defender. Over the last few days, I have had a problem with defining a wildcard on Windows Firewall. For example, I wanted to pull out the connection of my program and install a software package with a lot of executable files. I wanted to prevent it from accessing the internet. I could not select executables by using a wildcard. I had to select a single executable with its full name."

More Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Cons →

Pricing and Cost Advice
  • "Licensing fees are on a yearly basis and I am happy with the pricing."
  • "We have a license for 3,000 users and if we get up to 3,100 users, it doesn't stop working, but on the next renewal date you're supposed to go in there and add that extra 100 licenses. It's really good that they let you grow and expand and then pay for it. Sometimes, with other products, you overuse a license and they just don't work."
  • "Cisco Secure Endpoint is not too expensive and it's not cheap. It's quite fair."
  • "The price is very fair to the customer."
  • "...the licensing needs to be improved. All the product features we need are there. It's just a matter of the complexity and the different offerings and trying to figure things out."
  • "The pricing and licensing fees are okay."
  • "Because we do see the value of what it's bringing, I think they have priced it well."
  • More Cisco Secure Endpoint Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "The pricing is a little high. It is per user per year."
  • "We pay about $50,000 USD per year for a bundle that includes Cortex XDR."
  • "This is an expensive solution."
  • "Its pricing is kind of in line with its competitors and everybody else out there."
  • "Every customer has to pay for a license because it doesn't work with what you get from a managed services provider."
  • "The pricing is okay, although direct support can be expensive."
  • "Our customers have expressed that the price is high."
  • "It's about $55 per license on a yearly basis."
  • More Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "This product is included in the pricing for Windows."
  • "If you don't purchase the advanced threat protection then there is no additional charge."
  • "It is affordable and comes in the Office 365 bundle."
  • "Microsoft Defender ATP is expensive."
  • "I pay for it through the Windows Professional or Standard license. It is a one-time cost for me, and I use the same license."
  • "When compared with other vendors, the pricing is very high."
  • "This solution is part of Windows and comes included with it."
  • "We sell this product as part of Office 365 and it is not expensive."
  • More Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Pricing and Cost Advice →

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    Questions from the Community
    Top Answer:The most valuable feature is signature-based malware detection.
    Top Answer:Licensing fees are on a yearly basis and I am happy with the pricing.
    Top Answer:The GUI needs improvement, it's not good. There are false positives in emails. At times, the emails are blocked and… more »
    Top Answer:Cortex XDR by Palo Alto vs. SentinelOne SentinelOne offers very detailed specifics with regard to risks or attacks.… more »
    Top Answer:Cortex XDR by Palo Alto vs. CrowdStrike Falcon Both Cortex XDR and Crowd Strike Falcon offer cloud-based solutions… more »
    Top Answer:Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is a cloud-delivered endpoint security solution. The tool reduces the attack surface… more »
    Top Answer:We use Symantec because we do not use MS Enterprise products, but in my opinion, Microsoft Defender is a superior… more »
    Top Answer:The CrowdStrike solution delivers a lot of information about incidents. It has a very light sensor that will never push… more »
    Comparisons
    Also Known As
    Cisco AMP for Endpoints
    Cyvera, Cortex XDR, Palo Alto Networks Traps
    Microsoft Defender ATP, Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection, MS Defender for Endpoint, Microsoft Defender Antivirus
    Learn More
    Overview

    Cisco Secure Endpoint is a cloud-managed endpoint security solution that provides advanced protection against viruses, malware, and other cyber threats by detecting, preventing, and responding to threats. Cisco Secure Endpoint is managed online via a web-based management console and can be deployed on a variety of platforms. It protects endpoints, networks, emails, and web traffic.

    In a world of evolving threats, it’s necessary to put security above everything. Cisco Secure Endpoint provides you with the scope, scale, and capabilities to attain effective security with its integrated portfolio and industry-leading threat intelligence. Cisco Secure Endpoint continuously tracks and analyzes files and file activities across your systems - both remote and on premises - and compares these events to other events that occurred before or during past attacks. If a file exhibits malicious behavior, the tool sends an alert which enables you to stop a potential threat from succeeding.

    Key Capabilities of Cisco Secure Endpoint

    • Multi-layered protection: Cisco Secure Endpoint combines behavioral analytics, machine learning, and signature-based techniques to prevent threats from compromising your endpoints.

    • Powerful EDR capabilities: Reduce attack surface using advanced endpoint and extended detection and response, threat hunting, and endpoint isolation.

    • Dynamic malware analysis: Identify and block attacks in real time.

    • Simplified investigations: Advanced search capabilities help you get the information you need about your endpoints fast.

    Reviews from Real Users

    Cisco Secure Endpoint stands out among its competitors for a number of reasons. Two major ones are its ability to enable developers to easily secure their endpoints with one single operation using its management console and its advanced alerting techniques.

    Tim C., an IT manager at Van Der Meer Consulting, writes, "The solution makes it possible to see a threat once and block it everywhere across all endpoints and the entire security platform. It has the ability to block right down to the file and application level across all devices based on policies, such as, blacklisting and whitelisting of software and applications. This is good. Its strength is the ability to identify threats very quickly, then lock them and the network down and block the threats across the organization and all devices, which is what you want. You don't want to be spending time working out how to block something. You want to block something very quickly, letting that flow through to all the devices and avoiding the same scenario on different operating systems."

    Wouter H., a technical team lead network & security at Missing Piece BV, notes, "Any alert that we get is an actionable alert. Immediately, there is information that we can just click through, see the point in time, what happened, what caused it, and what automatic actions were taken. We can then choose to take any manual actions, if we want, or start our investigation. We're no longer looking at digging into information or wading through hundreds of incidents. There's a list which says where the status is assigned, e.g., under investigation or investigation finished. That is all in the console. It has taken away a lot of the administration, which we would normally be doing, and integrated it into the console for us."

    Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks is the first threat detection and response software to combine both visibility across all types of data as well as autonomous machine learning analytics. Threat detection very often requires analysts to divide their attention among many different data streams. This platform unifies a vast variety of data flows, which allows analysts to assess threats from a single location. Users can now maintain a level of visibility that other threat detection programs simply cannot offer. This level of transparency lends itself to both quick identification of problems that arise and the equally quick development of a potential solution.

    Cortex XDR’s machine learning works on many different levels to detect and prevent threats. It is constantly scanning for threats and vulnerabilities. The solution can scan up to 5.4 billion IP addresses in three-quarters of an hour. This allows it to spot weak points in the system and notify administrators long before hackers can take advantage of vulnerabilities. Once the Artificial Intelligence (AI) discovers an issue or an area where an issue could potentially take place the system creates a log of the information and subsequently sends an alert to system administrators. The AI takes the information that it has gathered and uses it to assign threat levels to the issues that it detects. Following this, a human analyst will be assigned to manually assess the issue and deal with it accordingly. You can set it to automatically respond to the threat by isolating the issue while analysts investigate it.

    Benefits of Cortex XDR

    Some of Cortex XDR’s benefits include:

    • The use of advanced AI analytics, behavior analytics, and custom-made detection to detect advanced threats before they occur.
    • The ability to group similar threat alerts, reducing incoming alerts by as much as 98%. This allows analysts to avoid being overwhelmed by the volume of incoming alerts.
    • The ability to investigate threats as much as 8 times faster than would be possible with other software. The machine learning, when coupled with the unified data stream that Cortex XDR collects, significantly increases the ability to more quickly discover the root cause of a threat.

    Reviews from Real Users

    Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks software stands out among its competitors for a number of reasons. Two major ones are its ability to isolate threats while enabling them to be studied and the way that the software combines all of the data that it gathers into a single, more complete picture than other solutions offer.

    PeerSpot users note the effectiveness of these features. A network designer at a computer software company wrote, “The solution has a very helpful isolation feature. If any system gets compromised, with one click I can access the system and isolate it from other networks, and then go into further forensic investigation of the current threat without compromising anything else.”

    Jeff W., Vice President/CTO at Sinnott Wolach Technology Group, noted, “The ability to kind of stitch everything together and see the actual complete picture is very useful. I guess you'd call it a playbook. Some people call it the forensics analysis of what was happening on particular endpoints when they detected some malicious behavior, and what transpired before that to cause that. It is also very user friendly.”



    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, Compliance and Identity Community.
    Offer
    Learn more about Cisco Secure Endpoint
    Learn more about Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks
    Learn more about Microsoft Defender for Endpoint
    Sample Customers
    Heritage Bank, Mobile County Schools, NHL University, Thunder Bay Regional, Yokogawa Electric, Sam Houston State University, First Financial Bank
    CBI Health Group, University Honda, VakifBank
    Petrofrac, Metro CSG, Christus Health
    Top Industries
    REVIEWERS
    Comms Service Provider16%
    Government11%
    Healthcare Company11%
    Manufacturing Company11%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Computer Software Company22%
    Comms Service Provider20%
    Government7%
    Financial Services Firm5%
    REVIEWERS
    Computer Software Company15%
    Financial Services Firm12%
    Government9%
    Consumer Goods Company9%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Computer Software Company22%
    Comms Service Provider20%
    Government7%
    Financial Services Firm5%
    REVIEWERS
    Financial Services Firm21%
    Computer Software Company15%
    Manufacturing Company8%
    Comms Service Provider7%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Computer Software Company22%
    Comms Service Provider18%
    Government8%
    Financial Services Firm6%
    Company Size
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business32%
    Midsize Enterprise24%
    Large Enterprise44%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business24%
    Midsize Enterprise19%
    Large Enterprise56%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business43%
    Midsize Enterprise17%
    Large Enterprise40%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business22%
    Midsize Enterprise21%
    Large Enterprise57%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business43%
    Midsize Enterprise17%
    Large Enterprise40%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business25%
    Midsize Enterprise18%
    Large Enterprise57%
    Buyer's Guide
    Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks vs. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint
    July 2022
    Find out what your peers are saying about Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks vs. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint and other solutions. Updated: July 2022.
    621,548 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks is ranked 4th in EPP (Endpoint Protection for Business) with 45 reviews while Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is ranked 3rd in EPP (Endpoint Protection for Business) with 115 reviews. Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks is rated 8.2, while Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is rated 8.0. The top reviewer of Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks writes "Easy to set up, reliable, and always scanning". On the other hand, the top reviewer of Microsoft Defender for Endpoint writes "Enables ingestion of events directly into your SIEM/SOAR, but requires integration with all Defender products to work optimally". Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks is most compared with CrowdStrike Falcon, SentinelOne, Symantec Endpoint Security, Trend Micro Apex One and Check Point Harmony Endpoint, whereas Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is most compared with CrowdStrike Falcon, Sophos Intercept X, Symantec Endpoint Security, SentinelOne and Malwarebytes. See our Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks vs. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint report.

    See our list of best EPP (Endpoint Protection for Business) vendors.

    We monitor all EPP (Endpoint Protection for Business) reviews to prevent fraudulent reviews and keep review quality high. We do not post reviews by company employees or direct competitors. We validate each review for authenticity via cross-reference with LinkedIn, and personal follow-up with the reviewer when necessary.