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

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Executive Summary
Updated on Mar 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: January 2023).
670,331 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Featured Review
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
Pros
"appreciate the File Trajectory feature, as it's excellent for an analyst or mobile analyst. I can track everything that happens on our server from my PC or device. Integration with SecureX is a welcome feature because it connects Cisco's integrated security portfolio with our complete infrastructure. Sandboxing is helpful, and integration with the Cisco environment is excellent as we use many of their products, and that's very valuable for us.""The most valuable feature is signature-based malware detection.""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.""Definitely, the best feature for Cisco Secure Endpoint is the integration with Talos. On the backend, Talos checks all the signatures, all the malware, and for any attacks going on around the world... Because Secure Endpoint has a connection to it, we get protected by it right then and there.""The integration with other Cisco products seemed to be really effective. We had Umbrella in place and we were using AnyConnect as well as Firepower. Once a threat was detected, being able to do the threat lookups and the live tracking was really useful.""The threat Grid with the ability to observe the sandboxing, analyze, and perform investigations of different malicious files has been great.""Another of my favorite features is called the Device Trajectory, where it shows everything that's going on, on a computer. It shows the point in time when a virus is downloaded, so you can see if the user was surfing the internet or had a program open. It shows every running process and file access on the computer and saves it like a snapshot when it detects something malicious. It also has a File Trajectory, so you can even see if that file has been found on any of your other computers that have AMP.""The most valuable feature is its threat protection and data privacy, including its cyber attack and data protection, as we need to cover and protect data on user devices."

More Cisco Secure Endpoint Pros →

"Its interface and pricing are most valuable. It is better than other vendors in terms of security.""Stability is one of the features we like the most.""Palo Alto is constantly adding new features.""The most valuable feature of Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks is the low consumption of system resources. The solution uses a lot of AI and machine learning.""The live terminal is probably the best thing ever. It gives you the access to get straight onto any machine.""Their XDR agent and their behavioral indicators of compromise (BIOC) are pretty nice. Their managed threat hunting is also pretty nice. They also have WildFire, which is a service for actively looking for malware. It's quite useful.""The most valuable feature of Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks is its machine-learning capabilities. Additionally, there is full integration with other solutions.""The most valuable feature is that you can select remote access of any machine for sandboxing."

More Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks Pros →

"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.""It is stable and easy to use. Everything is okay, and there are no performance issues.""It can reach our applications and PC activities in the cloud.""It's effective against most types of infection, and the firewall is perfect for protection.""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.""The performance of Microsoft Defender for Endpoint has been a valuable feature.""File protection is the most valuable feature. Antivirus security on the Level OS, Microsoft Defender, and Microsoft Guard for 2019.""We have just started to implement it. It is useful for protection from malware and ransomware."

More Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Pros →

Cons
"An easier way to do deduplication of machines, or be alerted to the fact that there's more than one instance of a machine, would be useful... That way you could get a more accurate device count, so you're not having an inflated number.""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.""The Linux agent is a simple offline classic agent, and it doesn't support Secure Boot, which is important to have on a Linux machine. The Linux agent has conflicts with other solutions, including the Exploit Prevention system found in Windows servers. We didn't find a fix during troubleshooting, and Cisco couldn't offer one either. Eventually, we had to shut down the Exploit Prevention system. We didn't like that as we always want a solution that can fit smoothly into the setup without causing problems, especially where security is concerned. The tool also caused CPU spikes on our production machine, and we were seriously considering moving to another product.""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.""It could be improved in connection with artificial intelligence and IoT.""This product has issues with the number of false positives that it reports.""The GUI needs improvement, it's not good.""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."

More Cisco Secure Endpoint Cons →

"Impact on system performance is horrible, adding a lot of delays for users.""It is not very strong in terms of endpoint management. It should have additional features like DLP, encryption, or advanced device control. Currently, Cortex is good in terms of the security of the endpoints, but it is not as good as other vendors in terms of the management of the endpoint.""Cortex XDR is trickier to configure than other Palo Alto products. This is one area where we are not so satisfied.""We would also like to have advanced tech protection and email scanning.""It is not easy to sell Cortex XDR, not because it isn't a good tool. Its marketing needs to be improved.""The solution lacks real-time, on-demand antivirus.""They've been having some issues with updating their endpoint agents, and it has been quite frustrating.""Cortex XDR could be improved with more GUI features."

More Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks Cons →

"Localization is always a challenge, especially with new products you typically want. Solutions are designed to be deployed where the most licenses are being consumed, such as in the United States. They focus on US products, devices, and networks. Specialized deployments for other countries would allow for a smoother experience in transition.""They should bring back the feature of a dedicated proxy device for communication to the cloud. As of now, all the agents are required to send the logs directly to the cloud. There should be a solution where you can put a proxy and all the logs are consolidated, like a forwarder.""They're in the process of pulling more things together. They can continue with the integrations and provide a better way of seeing the impact of security changes, especially on the endpoint side. Before we actually flip the switch, we should be able to see the impact of security changes on the business or business applications. It would prevent breaking any business applications.""Microsoft support could be more knowledgeable.""It would be helpful if they included XDR features, on top of the EDR functionality.""Defender could be more secure and stable.""The initial setup can be a bit complex.""The solution could improve by providing more integration."

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."
  • "The solution is highly affordable; I believe we pay $2 or $3 per endpoint. It's significantly cheaper than the competitors on the market."
  • More Cisco Secure Endpoint Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "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."
  • "It has a yearly renewal."
  • "The price of the solution is high for the license and in general."
  • "The price is on the higher side, but it's okay."
  • "I don't have any issues with the pricing. We are satisfied with the price."
  • "If one wishes to work with another team or large number of users at a future point, he must purchase a license for them."
  • More Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "This is an expensive product and licensing for all Microsoft products is a big issue."
  • "Licensing options vary. Some customers buy it as an enterprise agreement and pay yearly. Others buy it as a CSP, so they pay per month. It completely depends on the customer's needs."
  • "It's included with the Windows Operating System, I don't pay for any licensing fees."
  • "You need a license to use this solution."
  • "We have a bundle where the price includes all Microsoft products."
  • "The solution comes as a part of Windows 10 and it is covered under its license."
  • "For most people, the price of the license is not something that they have to worry about."
  • "It is free. It is included in Windows 10."
  • More Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Pricing and Cost Advice →

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    Answers from the Community
    Ammar Jibarah
    Zubair Ahmad - PeerSpot reviewerZubair Ahmad
    Real User

    I have not used Microsoft Defender and only used Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks. My experience with Cortex is not good as you need to whitelist each and every exe file of each adn every computer. My recommendation for you is to go for Cynet360 MDR which is far better than Cortex in terms of auto detection and remediation. You will get genuine alert.

    Remy Ma - PeerSpot reviewerRemy Ma
    Real User

    Choosing Microsoft Defender makes the most sense if you already have a Microsoft ecosystem. But in reality, you need an endpoint security solution that is proactive and comes with built-in artificial intelligence capabilities.


    I value in-depth visibility across the endpoints, so I prefer CrowdStrike Falcon EDR. It’s the best solution for simplified endpoint detection and response. CrowdStrike EDR comes with advanced features and easily integrates with popular third-party solutions like Splunk and Palo Alto Networks. An easy-to-use and navigate interface reduces the learning curve. Personally, I think CrowdStrike Falcon is easier to use than Microsoft Defender.


    MSSPs like ACE Managed Security Services provide Managed CrowdStrike EDR. If you’re looking for hassle-free deployment and a fully-managed solution, you should look into ACE.

    Mike Parsons - PeerSpot reviewerMike Parsons
    Reseller

    Unless you are using Palo Alto elsewhere in your architecture, I would go with Microsoft if that were the only choice.


    However, if you are using another network security issue such as Fortinet or Sophos, I would also look to their endpoint solutions.  They both have EDR and XDR capabilities and the endpoint solutions facilitate synchronization between the endpoint and the network control.


    Microsoft has done lots of work in the endpoint space and the Zero Trust world over the past several months.  Defender integrates tightly with the Microsoft Cloud and there is much synchronization that occurs between the physical endpoint and the cloud infrastructure. This means that regardless where the endpoint is physically located it stays connected and controlled by the policies set in the Microsoft cloud.  Very much like the Group Policy Options we became accustomed to with the on premises domain controller.


    I know that's a scratch on the surface and there are many other considerations, but you need to seek the solutions that promise management simplicity and the ability to control and protect the endpoints wherever they may be located. 

    James Holden - PeerSpot reviewerJames Holden
    User

    I would go for the one with the best independent threat intelligence, a platform that allows you to change, add, move IT and Security infrastructure without impacting your security platform.  I would also place a close attention to storage costs, service levels and the number of resources providing human intelligence on top of machine intelligence for investigation and incident response, all in one platform.  But I am biased ;-)

    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 »
    Top Answer:The most important feature is the way it monitors the threats and blocks them. About 10 days ago, we were implementing… 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 Company19%
    Comms Service Provider11%
    Government8%
    Financial Services Firm7%
    REVIEWERS
    Computer Software Company16%
    Financial Services Firm11%
    Government8%
    Consumer Goods Company8%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Computer Software Company18%
    Comms Service Provider11%
    Government9%
    Financial Services Firm7%
    REVIEWERS
    Financial Services Firm20%
    Computer Software Company16%
    Energy/Utilities Company7%
    Manufacturing Company7%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Computer Software Company18%
    Government9%
    Comms Service Provider9%
    Financial Services Firm8%
    Company Size
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business34%
    Midsize Enterprise23%
    Large Enterprise43%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business27%
    Midsize Enterprise18%
    Large Enterprise56%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business38%
    Midsize Enterprise24%
    Large Enterprise38%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business24%
    Midsize Enterprise18%
    Large Enterprise58%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business40%
    Midsize Enterprise17%
    Large Enterprise43%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business26%
    Midsize Enterprise17%
    Large Enterprise57%
    Buyer's Guide
    Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks vs. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint
    January 2023
    Find out what your peers are saying about Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks vs. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint and other solutions. Updated: January 2023.
    670,331 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks is ranked 4th in EPP (Endpoint Protection for Business) with 41 reviews while Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is ranked 1st in EPP (Endpoint Protection for Business) with 121 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 Endpoint Security and XDR, SentinelOne, Darktrace, Symantec Endpoint Security and Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business, whereas Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is most compared with Sophos Intercept X, Crowdstrike Falcon Endpoint Security and XDR, Symantec Endpoint Security, SentinelOne and Check Point Harmony Endpoint. 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.