Microsoft Defender for Office 365 vs Proofpoint Email Protection comparison

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Comparison Buyer's Guide
Executive Summary
Updated on May 3, 2022

We performed a comparison between Microsoft Defender for Office 365 and Proofpoint Email Protection based on our users’ reviews in four categories. After reading all of the collected data, you can find our conclusion below.

  • Ease of Deployment: Users of both solutions tell us the setup and deployment process is very easy and straightforward.
  • Features: Microsoft Defender for Office 365 offers excellent anti-phishing, anti-malware, and Safe Links URL monitoring and offers zero-day threat protection. The solution is easy to use and users say it is robust, stable, and easily scalable. Users like that there is a risk-level notification which gives users time to fix problems in a timely manner. Users feel that better protection against spam and better integration with non-Microsoft products is needed. Many users suggest that Microsoft Defender for Office 365 should also be able to provide techniques to protect against threats.

    Proofpoint Email Protection users like that the solution easily allows for whitelisting and blacklisting. They tell us the solution is very flexible and easy to use. Proofpoint is excellent at blocking spam, as it denies the connection altogether. The solution also is very good at stopping impersonation email techniques and phishing emails. It also does an excellent job of blocking malicious attachments. Users tell us the reporting can be very complex, a bit confusing, and difficult to navigate; they feel it should be simplified and easier to navigate.
  • Pricing: Users consider both solutions to be very expensive.
  • Service and Support: Overall, users of both of these solutions are satisfied with the service they have received when needed.

Comparison Results: Based on our users’ reviews, Proofpoint Email Protection is a more reliable, effective, and dependable solution. Users cite the Anti-Phishing functionality as second to none. The whitelisting/blacklisting process keeps things very secure. Users are not only satisfied with the outcomes but relate that it has helped reduce analyst overhead, saved time and money, and improved the overall effectiveness of the entire email process.

To learn more, read our detailed Microsoft Defender for Office 365 vs. Proofpoint Email Protection Report (Updated: March 2023).
688,083 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Q&A Highlights
Question: Which solution do you prefer: Microsoft Defender for Office 365 or Proofpoint Email Protection?
Answer: In my opinion, there is little comparison. Proofpoint is an industry leader in email protection and has a very tightly integrated ecosystem for email defense, incident response, and awareness training. They have dedicated teams monitoring the threat landscape and continually tweak their algorithms to match current threats. Proofpoint goes far beyond email protection with tools to help your team investigate email-related threats, monitor user interactions and risks, act on users who continually handle email improperly with training, simulated phishes for user awareness, and even tools to reach full DMARC and DKIM protection (which can be extremely time and labor intensive). Defender has very little footprint, but also offers far less features. Proofpoint can be a more costly solution, but when compared feature for feature it far outweighs Defender. We do use both at my organization and I rarely interact with Defender as part of email investigations. Both will offer great protection, but beyond that Proofpoint is very feature rich and gives my team more tools to combat email threats when something is not caught by the gateway rules. Quite often emails do not contain threats prior to delivery and are weaponized afterward to get past the email defenses. Proofpoint has TAP and TRAP to isolate and remove those threats once they do become weaponized; along with the intelligence to know it has occurred. Proofpoint also has stellar reporting features so you have a very good understanding of your email environment at a glance.
Featured Review
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
"Cisco Secure Email Cloud Gateway has allowed our users to be able to concentrate on the emails that they do receive. Previously, our users had to deal with nine million additional emails across the organization, which is nearly 1,000 emails per user to have to deal with a month. That's a massive amount for our staff to deal with and probably several hours of their time. We have a lot of clinical staff, being a hospital. We want to make our staff as productive as possible. By removing a lot of that spam and phishing type emails, this allows them to do their job.""The malicious URL scanning, as well as the anti-malware features, have been really useful for us in our environment.""It is doing its work. It is doing what it was actually designed to do. It has ensured we don't have business email compromises, and it has also ensured that our brand Galaxy is unique all year round.""It's flexible. There are a lot of rules and policies that can be easily applied for certain employees or certain mailboxes.""It has an intuitive, clear graphical interface where you can deploy your policies and understand the overall flow. There are a lot of things that you cannot handle on the graphic interface, like message filters. For this, you need to go to a lower level where you have more power, like command line interface. So, this solution has the best of both worlds. There are not a lot of bells and whistles. It is more practical with access to most features that you can configure.""I love the Advanced Malware Protection feature. It works very well... The appliance has more security such as SDF, DKIM, DMARC, and encryption.""What I find the most valuable about Cisco Secure Email is that the logs are not that difficult to see even if you're not used to them. The logs are reasonably readable and diagnosing the problem is not too hard with them.""The added value of it is that every migration to a new version is initiated by the Cisco version itself, so that is a bunch of work that you don't have to do on the Cisco ESA system on-premise. As it becomes a safe platform, you don't need to invest anything in your own data center or in your upgrade path."

More Cisco Secure Email Pros →

"Safe attachments, safe links, policies, and the ability to protect from zero-day threats are the most valuable features.""Microsoft Defender for Office 365 is a stable solution.""I would say that 90% of the spam and phishing attack emails get blocked right off the bat.""Threat Explorer is one of the features that I very much like because it is a real-time report that allows you to identify, analyze, and trace security attacks.""It also gives me good visibility because, with Defender, I'm using a Microsoft product to defend Microsoft products. The integration was really seamless and I have wide visibility because it picks up almost everything. Literally, I can see almost every activity that happens, from the e-mail to the workstation itself.""The most valuable feature is the integration. It's a single console, so we don't have to switch around between multiple products. Another valuable feature is the ease of operations and maintenance.""The email protection is excellent, especially in terms of anti-phishing policies.""The technical support is good and quick to resolve issues."

More Microsoft Defender for Office 365 Pros →

"The archive feature is valuable.""The stability is very good.""The most valuable feature of Proofpoint Email Protection is the dashboards and their visibility, easy configuration, and artificial intelligence. Additionally, the reports are very important and helpful.""The setup was easy.""The solution is very user-friendly.""Provides better control over emails, especially those sent via Office 365 on the cloud.""The spam filter for email is good.""The most valuable features of Proofpoint Email Protection are ease of use, data loss prevention, antivirus, and spam protection."

More Proofpoint Email Protection Pros →

"The Forged Email Detection feature needs improvement, particularly with domain. The sensors are not that good and the rules sets are unclear.""The area of license renewal should be improved. We normally renew our license every year. There is a feature called smart licensing, and I switched from the legacy mode to the smart licensing mode because of what I thought smart licensing does. I thought it would make licensing renewal seamless and very swift, but ever since I've switched to smart licensing, each time I want to renew my license, it is a whole lot of headache. The process is not smooth, and I had to keep calling Cisco TAC to see how the issue can be resolved. At one point, I wanted to revert back to the legacy mode, but I can't revert. Once you switch from the legacy mode to the smart licensing mode, you can't revert. They should improve on the visibility of the smart licensing mode so that it can indeed be smart and easier to use for the license renewal every year. That is one challenge.""My opinion on the licensing of this solution is that it is a mess that needs sorting out. I am not particularly bothered by pricing as I administer it and make recommendations for people to buy or not to buy.""We have Microsoft and we have the E5 licenses, they have more EDR responses on certain emails. That's something that Cisco ESA on the cloud doesn't have. They don't do anything about MITRE attacks. They only detect if there is a malicious email or a threat and they remove it.""I would like more functionality and how to use it for Level 2 type staff. The biggest issue is it needs to be easier to use and navigate.""If you are not a technical guy, it is hard to maneuver, but as soon as you work on it, it gets better and better. If there was a better way to know how to do things or how to find things, it would be good.""We have been struggling in the last month with Cisco encryption and with the S/MIME encryption. I don't know if it is an issue on our side or if these features of the solution are not working very well.""The UI is definitely one area of improvement because it doesn't match other interfaces and the navigation can be a little clunky."

More Cisco Secure Email Cons →

"The company should focus on adding threats that the solution is currently unable to detect.""This product's effectiveness could be improved, in terms of detecting unwanted spam or even malware between the emails, compared to other products.""The custom alerts have to improve a lot.""The visibility for the weaknesses in the system and unauthorized access can be improved.""The only thing they should improve is the licensing model. They should stop changing it. A year ago, the five features I mentioned were included in one product. Now, three of them are bundled into one product, and you have to pay extra for the other two. I don't mind paying extra, but I don't want them to change it every year or every six months. I need to know what I'm looking at and not worry about it next year.""There is room for improvement with the UI.""Microsoft should provide more documentation for users so they can self-educate. I would like to see more documentation for advanced security features.""It would be better if it were more scalable. It depends on the architecture, but we would like to make it more scalable for both data centers."

More Microsoft Defender for Office 365 Cons →

"Proofpoint Email Protection could improve by allowing more customization of the reports, such as exceptions and black-and-white lists.""You only receive one model in Proofpoint Email Protection and the other ones you have to purchase at a high price. There should be more available with the solution and additional models should be less expensive.""Proofpoint Email Protection has a new approach to email security with its API feature. Currently, it only works with Office 365. In the future, it would be beneficial if it also works with Gmail, as Check Point is currently the only brand that has API email security for Gmail. It would be beneficial if Proofpoint Email Protection could add this integration, they would be more competitive with other vendors.""The solution's server console and cluster dashboard have been the same for four years so need to be upgraded.""Proofpoint Email Protection could improve the Mail Trace feature and make navigation easier.""The initial setup is complex.""The accessibility of Proofpoint Email Protection, particularly access to product trials, could be improved. It's hard to get a trial for Proofpoint Email Protection, and many customers prefer not just to do the POC or demo but try the product out.""Proofpoint has a lot of false alarms."

More Proofpoint Email Protection Cons →

Pricing and Cost Advice
  • "There are additional fees for adding features."
  • "At times, we feel the pricing is a bit too high, but then, there is also room for discounts. We enjoy a lot of discounts, and that is why we are still with them. There are no costs in addition to the standard licensing fees."
  • "In my previous organization, avoiding four instances of CryptoLocker within an estimated six month period is approximately $600,000 in lost time and effort. Our five year cost was about a million dollars, and the four outages that we had equated to 65 percent of that five year cost."
  • "It is a super big router that costs a few hundred thousand dollars."
  • More Cisco Secure Email Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "From the pricing point of view, like any other product in the market, there is scope for negotiation."
  • "Defender is a little bit more expensive as compared to others. We are in the manufacturing environment. So, we don't have a high budget for all of our endpoint devices. Its cost is a major concern for us."
  • "For licensing, it's usually a yearly package for customers who are subscribed to Office 365, but they can also pay on a monthly basis."
  • "Microsoft Defender for Office 365 is an add-on to the Office license. Many customers are purchasing this solution."
  • "Microsoft Defender for Office 365 comes with Microsoft Windows. It is free with the operating system."
  • "The solution saves money so we have seen a return on investment."
  • "Defender for 365 comes in various plans and licenses, along with other Microsoft security solutions. Purchasing this kind of package or security bundle gives good value for money, and that's what I recommend."
  • "The pricing is normal. Considering its popularity, it's not overpriced."
  • More Microsoft Defender for Office 365 Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "It is multiple times more expensive, which made it very much less attractive."
  • "Pricing has recently been increased and the cost is a downside"
  • "The solution charges per user per month to use it. There are not any additional fees in addition to the standard living fees."
  • "Clients pay for an annual subscription of Proofpoint Email Protection. Every client always finds it expensive."
  • "The licensing cost of Proofpoint Email Protection is a lot higher than other solutions, such as Barracuda."
  • "It is on a yearly basis. Their floor for SMB doesn't matter. The user count is 100 users and below at $2,500 a year. Its cost is higher than other solutions. It is probably about 20% to 30% higher than what you would get with Microsoft. There are no additional costs. All costs are factored in. It can be improved pricing-wise so that it is affordable for the SMB market."
  • "I rate the price of Proofpoint Email Protection a four out of five."
  • "The solution is expensive."
  • More Proofpoint Email Protection Pricing and Cost Advice →

    Use our free recommendation engine to learn which Email Security solutions are best for your needs.
    688,083 professionals have used our research since 2012.
    Answers from the Community
    Aishwarya Rm
    Remy Ma - PeerSpot reviewerRemy Ma
    Real User

    If you're looking for Managed Email Security, it can be hard to decide between Microsoft Defender for Office 365 and Proofpoint Email Protection. It's like choosing between two delicious flavors of ice cream — both are good, but what flavor do you prefer?

    Microsoft Defender for Office 365 is managed by Microsoft’s Security & Compliance Center and provides managed email security for Office 365 customers. It offers comprehensive protection against malicious emails, phishing attacks, and other advanced threats. On the other hand, Proofpoint Email Protection is managed by a third-party provider and provides managed email security for businesses of all sizes. While it doesn't have as many features as Defender, Proofpoint still offers robust protection against malicious emails, phishing attacks, and other advanced threats.

    In the end, it comes down to personal preference. Do you prefer managed email security managed by Microsoft or a third party? It all depends on your individual needs. Whichever solution you choose, make sure that managed email security meets all of your requirements!

    Questions from the Community
    Top Answer:It's flexible. There are a lot of rules and policies that can be easily applied for certain employees or certain… more »
    Top Answer:My opinion on the licensing of this solution is that it is a mess that needs sorting out. I am not particularly bothered… more »
    Top Answer:If you are not a technical guy, it is hard to maneuver, but as soon as you work on it, it gets better and better. If… more »
    Top Answer:Defender for Office 365 has helped eliminate having to look at multiple dashboards and that is the aspect I like most… more »
    Top Answer:If we had compared it with other vendors, then I would have more to say about the cost, but we didn't. However… more »
    Top Answer:One area for improvement is integration. For example, when it comes to external SaaS platforms, we were not able to get… more »
    Top Answer:The Basic Email Coverage is pretty close to the same price as the Extended Email Security of other companies. To start… more »
    Top Answer:It was easier to use Microsoft than Proofpoint. We had some issues with their sales consultant. We got into a dispute… more »
    Also Known As
    Cisco Email Security, IronPort, Cisco Email Security, ESA, Email Security Appliances
    MS Defender for Office 365
    Proofpoint Enterprise Protection
    Learn More

    Cisco Secure Email is an email security solution that provides advanced protection to safeguard inboxes. The solution includes comprehensive defense from the most damaging threats so your employees and organization can remain secure at all times. In addition, it includes advanced threat defense capabilities that detect, block, and remediate threats in incoming email faster. Simultaneously, it protects an organization’s brand, prevents data loss, and secures important information in transit with end-to-end encryption.

    Cisco Secure Email Features

    Cisco Secure Email has many valuable key features. Some of the most useful ones include:

    • Advanced threat analysis: Easily identify the malicious techniques used in attacks targeting your organization. Understand the specific business risks and categorize threats to gain insight into the parts of your organization that are most vulnerable to attack.
    • Robust, actionable threat data: The solution’s searchable threat analysis data provides critical contextual insight to the attack scope and breadth and expedites remediation.
    • Real-time URL analysis: With this feature, you can drop emails with risky links automatically or block access to newly infected sites with real-time URL analysis to protect against phishing.
    • Domain-based message authentication (DMARC): Users can prevent brand abuse from attackers using their organization’s domain to carry out phishing campaigns with automation of the domain-based message authentication (DMARC) process.
    • Data loss prevention (DLP): The solution enables users to protect sensitive content in outgoing emails.

    Cisco Secure Email Benefits

    There are many benefits to implementing Cisco Secure Email. Some of the biggest advantages the solution offers include:

    • Optimize your defenses: The solution is designed to protect your organization from threats that can come from multiple sources, including phishing, malware, and ransomware. It can defend against all of them with industry-leading threat intelligence that empowers you to act quickly.
    • More efficient processes: You can use the solution’s orchestration feature to simplify workflows, reduce the burden on your team, and focus on more strategic initiatives.
    • Easy-to-manage tools: The solution is built with tools that are user-friendly and help you spend less time managing alerts. They allow users to quickly detect emerging threats and quarantine suspected threats to prevent their spread.
    • Flexible license options: Cisco Secure Email provides three different license choices: Secure Email Essentials, Secure Email Advantage, and Secure Email Premier.
    • Increase spam catch rates: Cisco Secure Email blocks unwanted emails using a multilayered scanning architecture.

    Reviews from Real Users

    Cisco Secure Email is a solution that stands out when compared to many of its competitors. Some of its major advantages are that it has an intuitive interface, reputation filtering, few false positives, and great protection features.

    Enrique J., Owner at Jolly Security Inc., says, "It has an intuitive, clear graphical interface where you can deploy your policies and understand the overall flow. The most valuable feature is reputation filtering.”

    The solution has a “low rate of false positives, good support, and it integrates well with other Cisco security products,” explains Mark R., IT Admin / Manager at a retailer.

    PeerSpot user Charles N., Network Security Engineer at Galaxy Backbone Ltd., mentions, “It is doing its work. It is doing what it was actually designed to do. They have a lot of features such as Advanced Malware Protection, Email Protection, Advanced Phishing Protection, Antispam, Antivirus, and Outbreak Filters.”

    Microsoft Defender for Office 365 protects all of Office 365 against advanced threats like business email compromise and credential phishing, and automatically investigates and remediates attacks. With Defender for O365 you get Integrated threat protection for all of Office 365 that gives you:

    - Native protection for Office 365 with built-in protection that simplifies administration, lowers total cost of ownership, and boosts productivity.

    - Unparalleled scale and effectiveness with powerful automated workflows to improve SecOps efficiency.

    - A complete solution for collaboration that protects you from attacks across the kill chain.

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

    Proofpoint Email Protection is a machine learning email gateway that catches both known and unknown threats. Through Target Attack Protection, emails will be analyzed and potentially blocked from advanced threats while users gain visibility around these threats. The technology can also classify various types of email and can be deployed both on premises or as a cloud service. In addition, users can tag suspicious emails to help raise user awareness and track down any email quickly.

    Proofpoint Email Protection offers Advanced BEC Defense, which can precisely detect and block different types of emails, even if they don’t involve a malicious payload, such as business email compromise (BEC). Email Protection, which is powered by NexusAI, is a sophisticated detection technique developed to stop a variety of kinds of email fraud from affecting compromised accounts. It’s specifically designed to analyze message components, such as the sender’s IP address (including reputation and x-originating IP), the message header, and the message body. Using machine learning and AI, it will then determine if that message is a BEC threat.

    Benefits of Proofpoint Email Protection

    Proofpoint Email Protection is a favorite for organizations looking to utilize their cybersecurity budget accurately, and provides the user with incredible visibility. While preventing email fraud, the technology can also detect and block advanced malware as well as identifying possible risks.

    Email Protection offers many benefits, including:

    • Email warning tag - Raise user awareness and reduce the risk of possible compromises by automatically tagging suspicious emails.

    • Gain granular control of unwanted email - Gain control over low-priority emails through granular email filtering, which can pinpoint gray mail, like newsletters and bulk mail.

    • Multi-layered detection - Defend against continuous evolving threats with reputation and content analysis. Email Protection offers a dynamic classification of various emails, including malware, spam, phishing, imposter threats, and bulk email.

    • Smart search - Track down an email based on dozens of search criteria in seconds. Smart search also provides the ability to trace where emails came from.

    Reviews from Real Users

    Proofpoint Email Protection enables business continuity capabilities through their machine learning, AI-powered email gateway. With its innovative approach toward detecting, analyzing, identifying, and blocking advanced threats, users can gain unique visibility into their business data environments. Users especially like the ability to block spam, as well as the business email compromise protection.

    An anonymous reviewer who is a principal consultant at a tech company, notes, "Proofpoint is the main tool for blocking spam because it denies the connection altogether."

    Sridhar R., a security professional at Qatar Computer Services WLL, writes, "The most valuable features are the business email compromise protection and targeted attack prevention."

    Learn more about Cisco Secure Email
    Learn more about Microsoft Defender for Office 365
    Learn more about Proofpoint Email Protection
    Sample Customers
    SUNY Old Westbury, CoxHealth, City of Fullerton, Indra
    Microsoft Defender for Office 365 is trusted by companies such as Ithaca College.
    Blocket, University of Waterloo, Lincoln Memorial University, WellSpan Health, U-Haul, Carestream Health, Westinghouse
    Top Industries
    Energy/Utilities Company18%
    Manufacturing Company14%
    Financial Services Firm9%
    Computer Software Company19%
    Comms Service Provider10%
    Financial Services Firm7%
    Computer Software Company20%
    Financial Services Firm13%
    Manufacturing Company13%
    Comms Service Provider13%
    Computer Software Company19%
    Financial Services Firm8%
    Comms Service Provider8%
    Healthcare Company18%
    Consumer Goods Company12%
    Computer Software Company15%
    Educational Organization9%
    Financial Services Firm8%
    Comms Service Provider7%
    Company Size
    Small Business32%
    Midsize Enterprise26%
    Large Enterprise42%
    Small Business27%
    Midsize Enterprise18%
    Large Enterprise55%
    Small Business42%
    Midsize Enterprise17%
    Large Enterprise42%
    Small Business28%
    Midsize Enterprise18%
    Large Enterprise54%
    Small Business48%
    Midsize Enterprise16%
    Large Enterprise35%
    Small Business24%
    Midsize Enterprise19%
    Large Enterprise57%
    Buyer's Guide
    Microsoft Defender for Office 365 vs. Proofpoint Email Protection
    March 2023
    Find out what your peers are saying about Microsoft Defender for Office 365 vs. Proofpoint Email Protection and other solutions. Updated: March 2023.
    688,083 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    Microsoft Defender for Office 365 is ranked 1st in Email Security with 19 reviews while Proofpoint Email Protection is ranked 3rd in Email Security with 25 reviews. Microsoft Defender for Office 365 is rated 8.0, while Proofpoint Email Protection is rated 8.0. The top reviewer of Microsoft Defender for Office 365 writes "Prioritizes threats across our enterprise and safeguards us from any incoming threats or viruses". On the other hand, the top reviewer of Proofpoint Email Protection writes "Powerful data analysis with robust algorithms, machine learning, and strong rules". Microsoft Defender for Office 365 is most compared with Mimecast Email Security with Targeted Threat Protection, Barracuda Email Security Gateway, Microsoft Exchange Online Protection, Fortinet FortiMail and Microsoft Defender for Identity, whereas Proofpoint Email Protection is most compared with Palo Alto Networks WildFire, Microsoft Exchange Online Protection, Fortinet FortiMail, Barracuda Sentinel and Trend Micro Email Security. See our Microsoft Defender for Office 365 vs. Proofpoint Email Protection report.

    See our list of best Email Security vendors.

    We monitor all Email Security 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.