Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps is the #2 ranked solution in CASB solutions. PeerSpot users give Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps an average rating of 8.4 out of 10. Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps is most commonly compared to Cisco Umbrella: Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps vs Cisco Umbrella. Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps is popular among the large enterprise segment, accounting for 66% of users researching this solution on PeerSpot. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 20% of all views.
Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps Buyer's Guide

Download the Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2022

What is Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps?

Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps is a cloud access security broker (CASB) that provides multifunction visibility, control over data travel, and sophisticated analytics. With Microsoft Cloud App Security, you can: 

- Manage, control, and audit apps to streamline cloud access security

- Mange your access to resources to discover shadow IT and understand your digital information estate

- Use real-time controls to enable threat protection on all the access points that touch your environment

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

Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps was previously known as MS Cloud App Security, Microsoft Cloud App Security.

Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps Customers

Customers for Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps include Accenture, St. Luke’s University Health Network, Ansell, and Nakilat.

Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps Video

Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps pricing:
  • "I'm not totally involved in the pricing part, but I think its pricing is quite aggressive, and its price is quite similar to Netskope. Netskope has separate licensing fees or additional charges if you want to monitor certain SaaS services, whereas, with MCAS, you get 5,000 applications with their Office 365. It is all bundled, and there's no cost for using that. You only have the operational costs. In the country I am in, it is a bit difficult to get people with the required skill sets."
  • "It has fair pricing. You pay for what you get. As far as I know, there are no costs in addition to the standard licensing fee."
  • "The E5 license offers everything bundled. People are moving to Microsoft because you buy one license and it gives you everything."
  • "Its pricing is on the higher side. Its price is definitely very high for a small-scale company. As an enterprise client, we do get benefits from Microsoft. We get a discounted price because of the number of users we have in our company. We have a premier package, and with that, we do get a lot of discounts. There are no additional costs. It only comes in the top-tier packages. Generally, the top-tier license is the best license that you can get for your organization. If you want, you can buy it separately, but that's not a good idea."
  • "The pricing is fair."
  • "The cost could be improved when you need to pay for anything. For example, refreshing files takes time to load, though it may be my Internet. To improve the refresh time, Microsoft says that we need to pay for a Premium license, and I don't like paying for things that help make a solution better."
  • Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps Reviews

    Filter by:
    Filter Reviews
    Industry
    Loading...
    Filter Unavailable
    Company Size
    Loading...
    Filter Unavailable
    Job Level
    Loading...
    Filter Unavailable
    Rating
    Loading...
    Filter Unavailable
    Considered
    Loading...
    Filter Unavailable
    Order by:
    Loading...
    • Date
    • Highest Rating
    • Lowest Rating
    • Review Length
    Search:
    Showingreviews based on the current filters. Reset all filters
    Cloud Security & Governance at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    Integrates well and helps us in protecting sensitive information, but takes time to scan and apply the policies and cannot detect everything we need
    Pros and Cons
    • "The feature that helps us in detecting the sensitive information being shared has been very useful. In addition, the feature that allows MCAS to apply policies with SharePoint, Teams, and OneDrive is being used predominantly."
    • "It takes some time to scan and apply the policies when there is some sensitive information. After it applies the policies, it works, but there is a delay. This is something for which we are working with Microsoft."

    What is our primary use case?

    MCAS was onboarded for the purpose of detecting shadow IT. As the organization moved towards more SaaS solutions, we wanted to make sure that there is a way to monitor and govern the IT services coming up as shadow IT. We are a very big organization where a lot of services get onboarded, and some of the things may go unnoticed. We wanted to detect the shadow IT software being installed or shadow IT happening within a department or business unit.

    We also wanted to make sure that the cloud access security broker provides a DLP kind of solution for Office 365. For example, if I am uploading a document with PI data, MCAS should scan and make sure that the right classification is applied. When the right classification is applied, the document gets encrypted, and relevant information protection is applied. If the right classification is not applied, the users are alerted to make sure that they go and remediate the document, task, file, etc.

    This is how we started with this solution the last year. Going forward, as a strategic solution, we are also looking at using MCAS to govern the Office environment. We have started onboarding solutions like Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online, OneDrive, and Exchange Online. 

    Our setup is a mixture of on-premises and cloud solutions. At this point in time, the major cloud providers are AWS and Azure, and we also have on-premises products such as Symantec DLP, Doc Scan, etc.

    How has it helped my organization?

    There are certain regulatory requirements in our bank for personal data and confidential information that need to be monitored from a security standpoint. It is a regulatory and standard requirement to have such a solution in place. 

    MCAS is a dedicated solution for Office 365 and other productivity-related solutions, and it really helps to automate some of the processes. It would have been difficult for us to find a similar product. It gels well with some of the solutions or technologies that we have, especially with Microsoft Azure and Office 365.

    From a security monitoring perspective, there is a productivity improvement and fewer human errors.

    In terms of user experience, if users mistakenly put PI information or some kind of data, it can detect and alert them. From that aspect, it is doing the job, but we are using it from a security standpoint. I'm more from a regulatory environment, and there are security requirements that are enforced by regulators. So, we cannot provide some of the end-user experience features, and there should always be a balance between the end-user experience and the security standpoint. MCAS is more of a backend security posture product. I won't position it as enhancing the user experience.

    What is most valuable?

    The feature that helps us in detecting the sensitive information being shared has been very useful. In addition, the feature that allows MCAS to apply policies with SharePoint, Teams, and OneDrive is being used predominantly.

    It is a kind of unified solution. As compared to other solutions such as Netskope, Symantec, or McAfee, it provides a more unified reporting structure.

    It also integrates with other technologies. We have Azure Information Protection, and it goes well with the solutions that we are already using.

    What needs improvement?

    It takes some time to scan and apply the policies when there is some sensitive information. After it applies the policies, it works, but there is a delay. This is something for which we are working with Microsoft.

    It cannot detect all the things that are required as per our bank's standards. We are working with Microsoft to see how they are going to help us resolve this, and based on NDA, which new features are coming in because we require a unified solution. We have other security solutions that are working on top of it, but we don't want to use multiple solutions and then end up with a human error. From a security perspective, the weakest link is human error. If certain features are monitored by MCAS, certain features are handled by Zscaler, and certain features are handled by Symantec DLP, it becomes difficult to synchronize from an operational standpoint. This is the situation we are in currently, but these issues come with new products or new cloud solutions. We have to slowly orchestrate and see how to unify the solutions. So, at present, it doesn't solve all the problems. There are many problems, but at least, we have other solutions that are currently providing some mitigation.

    It doesn't provide any way to scan Microsoft Teams when an external exchange of images is happening. You can always do the filtering on the documents during the chat, but if there is an image, then some kind of OCR capability is required to detect it. At present, there is no way MCAS can go and detect those kinds of images and alert us. They can maybe integrate it with an existing OCR-capable product. This is something that we are absolutely looking into. There should also be a feature to immediately increase the time to detect some PI information being exchanged via chat.

    Its reporting capabilities can be better. Currently, to generate reports, you need to have Power Automate in place. If such capabilities are built into the product, it would be easier because when we bring in Power Automate, we need to make sure that Power Automate also gets monitored from the DLP and governance standpoints. MCAS doesn't have many reporting capabilities, and it's really an operational nightmare to get all these things done at this point in time by using MCAS. These are some of the operational capabilities that our engineers require from this solution from the reporting perspective. Symantec and other solutions are more mature in this area. It could be because MCAS is still an upcoming product.

    Buyer's Guide
    Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps
    November 2022
    Learn what your peers think about Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2022.
    653,757 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We onboarded Office 365 and cloud services less than two years ago. MCAS was one of the strategic and DLP kind of solutions for Office 365 and other productivity products. Because the onboarding of the cloud services is in phases and not everything can be onboarded at the same time and it requires the involvement of different security and project departments, MCAS was onboarded last year.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    From an enterprise perspective, it meets most of the interoperability requirements. So, scalability is there. I don't see an issue from the scalability perspective. Only features are missing here and there.

    Currently, it is almost serving the entire bank. In terms of the SaaS products that MCAS is monitoring and the number of users it is serving, we have onboarded around 40,000 users for Office 365 and other SaaS products. Eventually, it will be serving the entire bank, but at this point in time, it is only serving all Office 365 and SaaS product users. 

    It is more of a cybersecurity solution for the bank to comply with all the security requirements and meet the security quotient. The end users don't see MCAS as a direct solution, but MCAS is providing security services for the bank behind all the services.

    How are customer service and support?

    We have proper help desk support. For example, if someone uploads a document that has PI data and there is an issue, it is highlighted to the user asking them to remediate it. The manager is also copied. The help desk takes care of such things. 

    Once the solution is implemented, it is almost auto-run. From the support perspective, it is mostly about why did I get this alert, what was wrong with this document, etc. Such things are usually taken care of by the user because users are responsible for what content they are allowed to load on a particular website, SharePoint site, or software. A robust change management process and help desk are already in place, and I don't see a big concern on this aspect.

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

    Previously, we didn't have any cloud product. We only had on-premise products. Our organization joined the cloud around one and a half years ago mainly because of this pandemic situation.

    How was the initial setup?

    It depends on the requirements. Certain requirements are really complex. The deployment itself is quite fast because MCAS is on the cloud, but there are a lot of requirements from the regulations and the bank's standards perspective.

    It took us one week for the architecture and to decide things like whether we need a reverse proxy. To have all the requirements and get all the things done in an enterprise environment, typically, a simple product like MCAS can take three to six months. That's because there are a lot of governance requirements, and we need to make sure there is no PI data, and the keys are encrypted somewhere in the user ID part. 

    In terms of the implementation strategy, at the high level, for Office 365 and SaaS solutions, we wanted a unified product to replace our existing one. From the strategy perspective, we wanted to go to the cloud. MCAS was able to integrate with most of our Office productivity tools. We procured the licenses and then went through the strategy of the bank and how the product can meet the needs. This was at a very high level. Of course, when we go into operations, we get operational challenges. That's why we need to have a longer time period to make a product coexist with the existing products.

    What about the implementation team?

    We have our own department, and they are trained in it. We also engage all sorts of vendors to provide us the results. At least for the interiors, we do not engage a third-party reseller or contractor.  

    It was more of an in-house implementation, but Microsoft helped us in coming up with a service design for Azure-related products including Office 365. Based on our requirements and infrastructure, they provided high-level architecture and design documents and told us about the things to be included or considered. We took that service design document and built our operations based on that and got it to work. So, the service design came from Microsoft, but hands-on was by our bank.

    In terms of maintenance, this is actually managed by security folks and cybersecurity services. Currently, it is being managed by three people. There are only three operators. Of course, when there are new things to be implemented and new policies to be created, it goes to engineering. For changes, we need one more person on average. So, there are a total of four people.

    What was our ROI?

    I can't give a specific number. One of the returns on investment is that we will soon be getting rid of our on-premise infrastructure and maintenance. The CapEx costs and repeated hardware refresh cycle are gone. From that perspective, there are savings. All we need is the skill set to maintain and manage a particular cloud access security broker. Today, we have four people, and tomorrow, it could be eight people because of the increase in the number of applications. The bottom line is that we will get rid of all operational issues in terms of patching and fixing different systems. We don't have to patch the Windows systems, Linux systems, etc. All these are taken care of and are maintained in the cloud.

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

    I'm not totally involved in the pricing part, but I think its pricing is quite aggressive, and its price is quite similar to Netskope. 

    Netskope has separate licensing fees or additional charges if you want to monitor certain SaaS services, whereas, with MCAS, you get 5,000 applications with their Office 365. It is all bundled, and there's no cost for using that. You only have the operational costs. In the country I am in, it is a bit difficult to get people with the required skill sets.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    I have been here for just around one year.  When I came, they were already using MCAS. In my previous organization, I made the decision to use MCAS for Office 365. For the entire cloud, I decided to use a dedicated cloud access broker like Cisco. It really depends on the organizational requirement and how they want to size their IT department. 

    There are pros and cons. If you are totally on Microsoft products, MCAS has an integration. Otherwise, there are other products that may work better. Of course, you may still be dependent on some APIs from the cloud providers. It really depends on the organization's strategy.

    What other advice do I have?

    My advice would be that an organization should assess where they are today and then map out what do they want from a cloud access security broker product. After that, they should decide whether MCAS or another product meets their requirements. This is important because you may have all the things in terms of interoperability and a solution may be the best fit from an operational perspective, but if all of the requirements are not met, you may end up using multiple products. Therefore, an organization must assess its current IT infrastructure, where do they want to go, and what are the key requirements from a regulatory and IT governance standpoint. They also have to make sure they have the right skillset in the market. For example, in Singapore, if I want to implement Google Cloud, the skillset is very less as compared to the skillset for AWS.

    From a vendor perspective, you should assess the reputability of the vendor and what kind of capability the vendor provides. For example, it's very obvious that Microsoft is very good at integrating its own products. They have now also started to integrate with others. These are some of the aspects you should consider before making a decision between product A or B. There is no magic silver bullet.

    From a security standpoint, overall, it has satisfied 80% of our requirements in terms of regulatory and bank standards. For 20% of our requirements, we still need additional products or features. They are currently not really there, and we are trying to find the solution for those gaps. In general, MCAS has a long way to go. It is definitely a good product that integrates with Office 365 Suite very well, but from a capability perspective, other products such as SkyHigh, McAfee, or Symantec have more features. It has the potential. A lot of features are lined up in MCAS, and eventually, they'll be there. These features are mentioned on Microsoft's website, and they are in development. I am looking forward to those.

    In terms of data governance, we have a very good tool, and we just need to focus on how to govern the data, DLP policies, etc. We don't have to bother about the physical data center, physical network, or physical host. The entire layer below the server is gone, and we just have to focus on the identity and security aspects. We just need to focus on what kind of security we need to put and which policies do we need to implement. We get better visibility by focusing on the key client endpoints by using MCAS. The team is now really focused. Previously, every day, teams used to come up with issues like, "Network has this problem. Data has this problem, and Host has this problem." Now the focus is, "Hey, this MCAS DLP isn't doing the job." The focus is more on the product's capability.

    I would rate Microsoft Cloud App Security a seven out of 10.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user
    Senior Cloud & Security Consultant at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
    MSP
    Top 20
    Great for monitoring user activity and protecting data while integrating well with other applications
    Pros and Cons
    • "The solution does not affect a user's workflow."
    • "The integration with macOS operating systems needs to be better."

    What is our primary use case?

    If there's any data that is taken out from their corporate applications, on their managed devices, and being taken out and stored somewhere else, on an application that is not managed, they don't have visibility on that.

    Therefore, with Cloud App Security, the main use case is to identify information about applications that are way beyond their boundaries and to understand what people are accessing them as well as if those applications are safe or not. It's a Shadow IT discovery solution.

    Apart from that, it's a solution used to protect corporate data from being taken out of those applications and being shared externally with people who are not meant to have those documents or data. It's a solution designed to prevent exfiltration and data filtration of corporate data from those applications to unknown people that may happen without proper visibility.

    Basically, it's used for two purposes: providing control of the data that is in cloud applications, and shadow IT discovery. That's the major purpose of Cloud App Security.

    What is most valuable?

    This solution acts as an identity and posture management assessment solution also. When you have your on-prem AD integrated with Defender for Identity, it can understand your identity posture.

    It can understand things like your Active Directory spread or the current state of your Active Directory on certain recommended practices. For example, if users in your organization are not using secure log-in methods. If their LDAP authentication is not secure, you'll get that information. That's identity and posture management. For your on-prem AD, if you have the solution deployed, which is Defender for Identity, it'll give you an understanding of your identity state, of your on-prem AD state, and give you recommendations accordingly, on what needs to be changed and managed, to make sure that you're secure.

    Apart from that, it also integrates with third-party solutions and services. For example, in an organization with multiple cloud applications. Typically, you don't have visibility over user activities or logs. You don't have control over the data. If a user logs in from one location and then the user logs into that application from another location, you don't have the visibility as you don't have ML and AI capabilities inbuilt. With this solution, once it integrates with those applications, it has inbuilt default functionality of ML and automation. It is able to understand the user's behavior and identify inconsistencies in user accounts, for those applications, and can give you suggestions or raise alerts. 

    The solution does not affect a user's workflow. It is not a user-specific solution. Users would not see the change in their usual behavior and their usual activities as such. The user does not really know what's happening in the background. The Cloud App Security is a solution for your whole organization, to make sure that you're monitoring the right activities - for example, those activities that are really uncommon - or specific activities that you want to monitor. The company has the ability to create Cloud App Security policies for sets of users, however, the users themselves do not see or feel the impact. 

    An IT administrator manages the solution and it gives them a lot of information. They can see a lot of detail around how other users interact with data and applications across the company, and if anything unusual happens. 

    What needs improvement?

    The integration with macOS operating systems needs to be better. The Cloud App Security integrates with Windows Defender for Endpoint, which is able to monitor the traffic from Windows 10 operating systems. When it integrates with Defender for Endpoints, the macOS capability does not let you directly see the shadow IT discovery. You have to be in your network, to be able to see if any activity from a macOS operating system is happening. If you're working from home without a VPN connection nowadays, which is the usual case for a remote workplace, you can't really monitor or track the activities in the shadow IT that users are using offsite on macOS operating systems.

    The Cloud App Security integration with external DLP solutions is not so seamless. There are solutions that you can integrate with Cloud App Security as an external DLP solution, however, it's not so seamless that you can have the integration with the endpoint. It's there, yet, it's not so seamless and integrable.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I've been using the solution for the past five years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's been stable for the past little while. The improvement has been immense, however, overall, it's a stable solution. It has not changed so much. Of course, the implementation of feature sets and improvements have happened, although they're almost similar. I would say it's a stable solution in general.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    An average organization would almost utilize 100 to over 150 applications. They wouldn't really have an understanding of what activities are happening across those corporate applications. You can integrate N number of applications. There are approximately 16,000 plus applications that you can monitor and integrate with Cloud App Security. Then, based on those applications, you can understand the users' behavior.

    The benefit you get is that you are able to monitor all your applications and control the data that goes out of those applications. You can also control any sort of activity, which you feel should not be happening on that application. The user can be prevented from doing certain activities. Cloud App Security helps you do that across as many apps as you want.

    In terms of users. the default Cloud App Security is just a license-based solution. As long as you have users in your organization, you just buy licenses from Microsoft and assign those licenses to your user accounts. It's very scalable. 

    There are a few parts to it. For example, shadow IT discovery, which is an added feature that allows you to be able to implement additional users in your organization. The Cloud App Security will also require additional infrastructure. Let's say if the data set that Cloud App Security is absorbing at a particular time span, if it increases, then you probably have to implement additional on-prem resources or cloud resources for it to be able to track all of the network data.

    Depending on the data set that you're ingesting in Cloud App Security, you might have to increase your workload on-prem. Other than that, Cloud App Security itself is a very scalable solution.

    When it comes to the size of organizations I've worked with, I should note I am personally a Microsoft consultant only. I work on Microsoft projects and with Microsoft's clients only. I've worked with organizations with 15,000 users and an organization that has approximately 6,000 users. I've worked with organizations that have 500 users. The size of the company varies.

    How are customer service and support?

    Microsoft has different support tiers. If it's Pro support I would rate it at a seven or seven-and-a-half at a maximum. There are Premier support services and there are Professional supports, another type of support service. Premier support service is very good. I would rate that at an eight-and-a-half or nine. 

    Pro support is if you buy a basic license for an organization. It's not so great and yet still good. For Pro support, you usually do not get routed to Microsoft people. Those are generally people who are third-party support service providers.

    The problem is, specifically in India, it's also specific to locations, as sometimes if you're working in a different location, you get different support. As I mentioned, it's third-party support usually that you get with Cloud App Security or any Microsoft solution Pro support.

    The level of knowledge you get is totally dependent on how the organization and how the third-party service provider is. Usually, there are time delays. Sometimes their initial response will happen, and then they will take time in responding back and/or aligning a resource. Sometimes that resource is not technically advanced or technically skilled and can't fully understand the problems at hand. In that case, they require escalating most of those cases to the technical consultants. If it's a typical question, a typical scenario, I would say it's good. Cloud App Security is a beast of a product, so the major issue is with the Pro support.

    If it would have been directly with Microsoft, this help has been really good, however, it's a third-party service provider who's helping you out, and they just don't have the insights an actual Microsoft user has. 

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

    I don't have any experience working with a third party or a competitor of Cloud App Security, however, I know there is one called McAfee, which is supposed to be equally good.

    McAfee offers a cloud app security service that is very, very good and close to what Microsoft offers. That is what I understand from customers and the discussions I've had surrounding it, though I have not really worked on McAfee. What I understand from customers is, Cloud App Security, the integration, the capabilities that it has to offer, are much more advanced. For example, Microsoft's identity posture assessment. There is no solution in Europe, anywhere, which offers such a capability. It's an integrated solution with Defender for Identity, however, it's a service that Cloud App Security at least offers, which otherwise would not be available.

    Similarly, integration with the number of applications, as I mentioned, is great with Microsoft. The capability for you to monitor and route your traffic for all of these different applications, and to be able to analyze the traffic from those corporate applications is important.

    The reverse proxy capability that Microsoft Cloud App Security offers is really good. It lets you track anything in real-time, and monitor all those things, which is not possible using other solutions.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial onboarding of Cloud App Security with Office 365 is pretty straightforward. For an organization that does not use Office 365 as its primary SaaS application, you will still have to follow a few steps, however, those are also straightforward steps.

    In general, I would say, Cloud App Security implementation, within the initial adoption of an application, is very seamless. 

    The time it takes to deploy depends on the use cases. If you're talking about a simple activation of Cloud App Security, and enabling and monitoring the activities of certain basic applications, it shouldn't take more than a few hours for integration. If there are more complex situations, more complex scenarios, depending on what the scenarios are, then there may be a little bit more effort and time required. Other than that, if the default integration with applications is already there, it should not take more than a few hours to have it up and running.

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

    I've worked with almost eight to 10 customers using Cloud App Security. This is Microsoft Cloud App Security. Cloud App Security has two offerings. One is Office 365 Cloud App Security, which is a basic cloud app security. Then there is Advanced Cloud App Security which is called Microsoft Cloud App Security.

    The Office 365 one, the one which you get with E5 licenses, it'll give you basic Office 365 monitoring and snapshot reports, but not a whole lot of capabilities.

    That said, I don't have any information about the actual costs of the license themselves. 

    What other advice do I have?

    I deploy this solution. I don't utilize this solution as a solution for my organization, and instead, deploy this solution for clients. I'm a consultant for this product. My company is a Microsoft partner. 

    This is a SaaS application.

    I would advise new users to first try to identify the applications which are corporate-owned applications, be it if it's an on-prem application or if it's a cloud application. Once you identify all those applications which you're using in your organizations as a whole, you should try to integrate all those applications with Cloud App Security. 

    Once you've started integrating and planning ahead what applications are needed to be monitored first, start integrating those applications and monitoring them. Slowly, integration after integration, all the monitoring will start happening.

    Once the integration for those applications has happened, you should go ahead and start implementing what kind of policies you want. If you want activity monitoring policies, then you should start creating those activity monitoring policies. Let's say you want to apply DLP policies for third-party applications. You will need to reach out to those different teams who'll be able to give you better answers as to how to approach the data that is being shared or being uploaded from those applications to any other applications.

    Based on that, create those policies in Cloud App Security. The correct and the right approach is to use the network appliances that you have in your organization. Once you have identified that information, you can go ahead and start implementing the Cloud App Security and start integrating those network appliances and those applications with Cloud App Security.

    Overall, I would rate the solution at an eight out of ten.

    Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
    PeerSpot user
    Buyer's Guide
    Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps
    November 2022
    Learn what your peers think about Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2022.
    653,757 professionals have used our research since 2012.
    Infrastructure Engineer at SBITSC
    Real User
    Top 20
    A fluid, intelligent product for great visibility, centralized management, and increased uptime
    Pros and Cons
    • "On-demand scanning is the most valuable feature. In addition, it's a fairly fluid product. It syncs back to the cloud and provides metrics. It's pretty intelligent."
    • "They need to improve the attack surface reduction (ASR) rules. In the latest version, you can implement ASR rules, which are quite useful, but you have to enable those because if they're not enabled, they flag false positives. In the Defender portal, it logs a block for WMI processes and PowerShell. Apparently, it's because ASR rules are not configured. So, you generally have to enable them to exclude, for example, WMI queries or PowerShell because they have a habit of blocking your security scanners. It's a bit weird that they have to be enabled to be configured, and it's not the other way around."

    What is our primary use case?

    Mainly, companies use it for end-user compute devices. 

    How has it helped my organization?

    It has provided more centralization for managing endpoint security. We have greater flexibility. We can have people manage it from anywhere. I could be working from home or on-prem. That's a great thing about the cloud. The portal is accessible anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection. It doesn't really limit you from where you can work or manage it.

    It's an in-depth tool. It pretty much logs the events line by line, and with the portal, it just makes it searchable on a wider basis. We've got greater visibility than we used to have from historic products.

    It helps to prioritize threats across the enterprise. Your AV is now your footprint, which means you can footprint files faster than you can provide a patch. That is the whole idea of security solutions these days. Sophos used to pioneer using file footprints to basically stop stuff at the front door. So, if you got an EXE or something else, such as a JavaScript file or JSP, or any nefarious malware, Trojans, they footprint the file. Such a file will get scanned and blocked. That's the whole idea of it. It can't ever execute on the machine. 

    It helps automate routine tasks and the finding of high-value alerts. It allows us to pinpoint threats and automate the boring stuff. Any automation or AI is a good thing.

    It eliminates having to look at multiple dashboards and gives one XDR dashboard. I've one dashboard, and it's a unit. So, there is a unified approach. 

    Having everything in one place helps because the engineers don't have to log into multiple places to find something, and they can put in best practice rules quicker. If they want new ASR rules, they can put them in. One of the things that security engineers do is create alerts in there. If they want to alert for a specific threat and just create a query, they'll run it through the system, or they put an alert for specific file extensions that might execute, such as ICU.7ZZ. There are code obfuscations and file obfuscations, and they can search for those things. They'll put alerts on for them.

    This centralization saves us time. Because it's all in one portal, we can search across all endpoints we manage. That's the whole idea. The automation has probably saved an engineer between 10% to 20% of the time. It's something we just plug in and leave to work. It gets tweaked every now and again. Since I have implemented it, the tickets I've got from the security department and the infrastructure have gone down to about 10% to 15%. Once the rules are in place, they're there forever or as long as the product life cycle lasts.

    I am not sure if it has saved us money because that's finance-related. It's probably more about uptime if you can keep threats off the end-user devices and don't have to rebuild them. I don't recall seeing a virus on my PC here in the current client I've worked for in the last five years. If you got a virus on the device, you just have to rebuild it. I don't remember having seen any rebuilds here. They are only for new users.

    It reduces the time to respond. Your portal is a few clicks away. The fourth-line engineer can assist the security department within five minutes. Generally, we just get a Teams message if they need assistance or they raise a ticket. It depends on if it's a structural change or if it's a reactive response.

    What is most valuable?

    On-demand scanning is the most valuable feature. In addition, it's a fairly fluid product. It syncs back to the cloud and provides metrics. It's pretty intelligent.

    What needs improvement?

    They need to improve the attack surface reduction (ASR) rules. In the latest version, you can implement ASR rules, which are quite useful, but you have to enable those because if they're not enabled, they flag false positives. In the Defender portal, it logs a block for WMI processes and PowerShell. Apparently, it's because ASR rules are not configured. So, you generally have to enable them to exclude, for example, WMI queries or PowerShell because they have a habit of blocking your security scanners. It's a bit weird that they have to be enabled to be configured, and it's not the other way around. Normally, you'd expect when something is not configured, it doesn't enable itself, but for the purpose of this, apparently, Microsoft has told us to enable them. So, you've got to enable them because they keep flagging and blocking products even when they're not configured. It was just an oversight in the design department when they deployed an update to the feature, but I'll live with it.

    I'd like to see them automate best-practice antivirus rules. If you search Microsoft best practice antivirus exclusions, there are virus scanning recommendations for antivirus computers running Windows or Windows Server. There is a whole list to exclude the most common things, which could be anything from NTFRS, check folders, temp.DB, or EDBs. There are a lot of things for group policy extensions, exclusion, etc. This is a list of best-practice antivirus rules, but they still have to be implemented manually. In Sophos, five or six years ago, if it was a SQL Server, they automatically included the rules to exclude certain folders or file extensions when doing on-demand scanning. I'd like Microsoft to do the same.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I have been using it in my professional capacity for five years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's greatly stable.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    It's definitely scalable. My current client has 2,000 users.

    How are customer service and support?

    They're excellent. I would rate them a 10 out of 10.

    How would you rate customer service and support?

    Positive

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

    I've previously used Symantec, which for some is the greatest product. My top two are Sophos and Microsoft Defender for antivirus or web filtering. Symantec doesn't really come close to these two.

    Microsoft Defender is probably now accepted as the best product on the market for antivirus and web filtering. Five or ten years back, there were Symantec and others, but Microsoft has basically built a competitive product to rival those that used to do this kind of thing. Businesses are just happy to accept that it works. It's expensive, but it does what it says on the tin.

    The legacy products, like Symantec, on servers and clients no longer work. They require a lot of manual configuration, and they also don't protect the PC or server as well as Defender, which is also more cost-effective. It's already built into your home PC's operating system. If you've got a business PC, it's built-in. With Defender for Cloud Apps or Defender Endpoint management or InTune, you've got the management of the PC, which is what this pays for.

    How was the initial setup?

    It's cloud-based and deployed through InTune. The device has to be registered, and the device also has to be in the right license period.

    The initial setup is straightforward. We use InTune to roll it out. The actual component is already on the Windows PC. It's called Windows antivirus or Defender. From the business side, by putting the devices in InTune, we can gather the metrics from the PC through Defender for Cloud Apps, or the Defender Endpoint management portal. It gives you a bit more management of the PC from that perspective.

    In a reasonable deployment, it takes at least a week to deploy. The PCs have to be in InTune first to roll it out, and then, it's generally a matter of just switching on the feature.

    For most businesses where I worked, it took a period of time to realize its benefits from the time of deployment. As the product got developed and became more mature, it got greater functionality in the end. It's now a mature product. The initial deployment was done when I was here, but I've been involved in enabling the maturity of the product's life cycle. There were always lots of tickets for changes regarding Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. It's a very intelligent product.

    In terms of the number of people, sometimes, you need one person and sometimes two. Generally, you're trying to do things in the background.

    It doesn't require any maintenance in particular. It's mainly just the configuration of rules and policies and then the security department does the rest and watches it.

    What was our ROI?

    The ROI is there. It's the uptime. You don't want end-user devices going offline. It disrupts the business for that user. Every time a user is down or the machines are being rebuilt because of a virus, it's downtime for the business. They can't do their work at that point in time. Increased uptime is always better on end-user compute devices or servers.

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

    It has fair pricing. You pay for what you get. As far as I know, there are no costs in addition to the standard licensing fee.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    It's probably one of the top three on the market. You've got Defender and then you've got Sophos, and then, I suppose the other one that comes close is probably Norton. These are probably the top three. I am not really a fan of Trend Micro products or Kaspersky.

    What other advice do I have?

    I would recommend implementing it. It's the number one product in the market. The only thing they should automate is to put AI on their virus scanner recommendations rather than having to enable them by default. They might already have done that, but from what I've seen, generally, they do things manually.

    At the moment, we are not using other Microsoft Security products. We are mainly using Defender. I have previously made use of the Defender for Cloud's bidirectional sync capabilities, which I'd rate a 10 out of 10.  

    Overall, I would rate it a 10 out of 10.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Flag as inappropriate
    PeerSpot user
    Paarth Saarthi - PeerSpot reviewer
    Security Delivery Analyst at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    Top 10
    User activity and file-level information help us get ahead on breach investigations
    Pros and Cons
    • "In Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps, there is an option to enable files. Once you enable that, it will give you all the files in your organization and where they are located in the cloud... That feature is very useful for investigation purposes."
    • "Sometimes, we'll get false positive alarms. For example, when a SharePoint path has no file sharing, but there is an external user, it will trigger an alarm that the file has been shared with an external user... the alerting mechanism should be more precise when giving you an alert about what activity has been done with the file..."

    What is our primary use case?

    We have several use cases including file monitoring, unusual travel activities, user investigation, and activity. It pretty much covers every activity based on the cloud.

    How has it helped my organization?

    It helps prioritize insider threats. You can take the necessary actions once you get the logs. And when it comes to malware, if a file is uploaded that potentially has malware, the solution is also very useful. It gives you an alarm on the basis of the hash value of that file.

    It is very useful for investigating file exfiltration threats. When it comes to data that is stored in the cloud, you really need to know what is stored there—the contents. You can create many protocols or rules in the tool to know the contents and who the owner is of a file. If we are investigating a threat or alert, it has a really good scope. You get really good details from it.

    Overall, the solution has saved us time. For malware, it has an automated investigation feature integrated with Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. If there is suspicious behavior or a malicious file in your computer, it will give you a complete timeline showing how it behaved, how it was executed, and how the file has interacted with the other entities on your machine. You don't need to hunt for the logs. You can just look at the storyline of execution and that saves a lot of time.

    It provides real-time detection, most of the time, for malware and other threats. Sometimes, the automated investigation takes some time, although not too long. It provides a smooth flow of investigation, giving you precise data. It saves time compared to manual investigation and the precision is good. On average, it will save one or two hours compared to a manual investigation, depending on the experience and proficiency of the analyst who would do the manual investigation.

    What is most valuable?

    In Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps, there is an option to enable files. Once you enable that, it will give you all the files in your organization and where they are located in the cloud. If you are investigating a data breach and you want to get ahead of the investigation, the first thing you can do is a filename search: Where was it located? What was the file movement? What activity happened with the file? You get all the logs. That feature is very useful for investigation purposes.

    It also shows user activity. If we are investigating a user for possible data breaches, we can enter the user's name and see the activities that the user has done. Based on that, you can take the necessary action. It gives you all the logs for that particular user. That feature is also very interesting and useful.

    I use more than one Microsoft security product, including Defender for Endpoint as well as the Microsoft compliance portal, which is called Microsoft Purview now. It is integrated with Microsoft Data Loss Prevention. I also use Microsoft Defender for Identity. It is used to see if there is any suspicious traffic coming through your domain controller. In total, I use four Microsoft tools and all of these products are integrated. Internal integration of Microsoft products is quite simple. You just need to create one instance and that's it.

    They are like the same product. Whatever information you'll get from one tool is the same information you are going to get from another tool. There will be no inconsistency in the data. They are getting logs from one place, not from different sources, so they are coordinated. If they did not work together, there would be a lot of confusion. If one tool is sent an alert and another sent an alert for the same file, that would be a complete ruckus. It has to be well coordinated.

    These solutions are quite comprehensive. Most of the time, they provide alerts in a very detailed manner and it is very easy to investigate. While there is some scope for improvement, it is a very good tool for investigating the security threats we are getting. It's quite comprehensive and really good.

    What needs improvement?

    The visibility it provides is quite good. You get all the logs for investigation purposes. But there should be more clarity on what is happening with a file. Sometimes, we'll get false positive alarms. For example, when a SharePoint path has no file sharing, but there is an external user, it will trigger an alarm that the file has been shared with an external user. It happens because an external user has access to it but, in reality, he doesn't access it. But you need to check whether anyone has accessed the file and that takes some time. While giving the alert, if it could be more precise in terms of what happened with that file—why it is giving the alert—it would be more convenient for the investigation and save a lot of time.

    The alerting mechanism should be more precise when giving you an alert about what activity has been done with the file, whether it was shared or whether it was in a path where an external user had access to it.

    Also, Microsoft should provide more automation features. At this time, they are limited.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We have been using Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps for about one and a half years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    There is no downtime. The tool is always available.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    It's scalable. You need to purchase more licenses if you want to deploy more.

    How are customer service and support?

    Microsoft technical support depends on the individual who responds. Some Microsoft SMEs have the knowledge and some don't, to be very frank. They'll just go according to a template but they don't have really good investigation skills.

    Microsoft could offer much more proficiency in terms of support. They need more individuals with the ability to resolve issues. At the moment, I would rate it as average.

    How would you rate customer service and support?

    Neutral

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

    I did not work with a previous solution for cloud apps. For antivirus, I worked with McAfee.

    How was the initial setup?

    I didn't deploy it, but in my experience, it takes time to learn how the features work because most things are not covered in the Knowledge Base that Microsoft has provided. They don't mention what these things are and how they work in the background. It takes an appreciable amount of time to understand how these tools work.

    Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps is only deployed through the cloud. You need to integrate your Azure AD with Cloud Apps. Once you have done that, you don't require a separate deployment model.

    In terms of Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, you need to onboard it to your devices through a script. To do that, you can use Intune, SCCM, or many other tools. Intune is native to Microsoft, but SCCM is a third-party tool. You can even deploy it manually.

    There is some maintenance involved. The onboarding package can have communication issues and sometimes the antivirus services stop due to malfunction. There are many things that require maintenance. The number of people needed to handle the maintenance depends on the volume of devices you are maintaining.

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

    The E5 license offers everything bundled. People are moving to Microsoft because you buy one license and it gives you everything. That's the reason many companies are attracted to these tools. That is much more beneficial than buying all the suites separately. It's quite economical.

    What other advice do I have?

    If you are keen on keeping your enterprise safe from external users, so that your files are confidential and external users don't have access to them, you can create a rule in Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. If it detects an external user has been added to that file or is collaborating on it, an automated governance action can remove that access in near real-time. We are not using the automation feature at the moment because it can create unwanted results. The scope of the exclusion is very limited in the policy.

    In terms of a single dashboard, you need a SIEM tool like Microsoft Sentinel to integrate everything into a single dashboard. But at the moment, without that suite, we need to look at our four tools separately.

    Potential threats are mainly detected in terms of hash values, malicious IP addresses, and malicious domain names. If you are looking to protect your environment, you can enter these details into Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint enables you to add indicators of compromise and it will protect against those entities.

    Regarding going with a best-of-breed strategy rather than a single vendor security suite, both have pros and cons. It's not a black-and-white area. If you are going with one vendor, it will collect the logs in a single way. Everyone who looks at them will say, "This is the issue." It won't give you a different point of view. But if you are using another security product, it will have another methodology to collect and integrate the logs and present the information to you. One security tool can miss something that another security tool will catch. Having more than one will give you diversity in terms of alerts and analysis. But on the negative side, when you have more than one solution, you need to purchase separate licenses and spend some more money.

    It depends on the budget of your organization for the security team. If you have a big budget, of course, you can diversify. You will benefit more from having different tools as they will, obviously, decrease the chances of getting hit by malware. But it will cost you more. If you have a limited budget, then you should go with a single tool. If you take the financial considerations out of the discussion, Microsoft pretty much covers everything and you should go for a single solution.

    Overall, Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps is very convenient for investigation, in terms of security breaches, or if there is file exfiltration. It's a handy tool.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Flag as inappropriate
    PeerSpot user
    Savad Siddeeque - PeerSpot reviewer
    Support Engineer at Microsoft
    Real User
    Top 10
    Integrates with many applications and provides robust threat protection and tailor-made recommendations to improve your environment
    Pros and Cons
    • "Threat detection is its key feature, and that's why we use this tool. It gives an alert if a PC is attacked or there is any kind of anomaly, such as there is a spike in sending emails or we see an unauthorized website being accessed. So, it keeps us on our toes. We get to know that there is something wrong, and we can isolate the user and find any issues with it. So, threat detection is very robust in this tool."
    • "The response time could be better. It will be helpful if the alerts are even more proactive and we can see more data. Currently, the data is a little bit weak. It is not complete. I can't just see it and completely know which user or which device it is. It takes some effort and time on my part to investigate and isolate a user. It would be great if it is more user-friendly or easy for people to understand."

    What is our primary use case?

    We use it in our company for threat detection. My company is into manufacturing, and our IT support is within premises. We don't do client services.

    It is a SaaS solution. It is not supported on-premises. The deployment that we have is purely cloud-based.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Cloud App Security is an ever-evolving technology. It is based on artificial intelligence. It uses some data sets that capture all the tools within Office 365 package. It collects all the data majorly in the Office 365 space, and it understands the usage. Across the globe, there might be millions of Microsoft users, and it tries to capture all the data cumulatively and see any anomalies. That is how Microsoft gives you the data. They study different types of organizations in terms of how they behave, what kind of security loopholes can be found in them, and then they give you recommendations. You just implement these recommendations to secure the environment. So, what you get is a tailor-made solution where you can find all recommendations because it is based on artificial intelligence. They give you a tailor-made recommendation to improve your environment. They might recommend multifactor authentication, role-based access, etc. They provide you the classical representation on which users we can target and safeguard more.  All these things are very useful. That's how this tool is helping Microsoft customers, and this is how we have also been using it.

    My company relies upon this technology. For us, it is very critical to know any attack beforehand and be prepared for it. In our environment, there are many endpoints, and many devices interact. We have an email system, a storage system, and other systems. The beauty of Cloud App Security is that it can learn data from different applications. For example, Adobe is an application that I'm integrating with Office 365. So, I can expand my horizon of search to that tool and see how that interacts with us. I will get more real-time data, and I will know more use cases about it.

    What is most valuable?

    Threat detection is its key feature, and that's why we use this tool. It gives an alert if a PC is attacked or there is any kind of anomaly, such as there is a spike in sending emails or we see an unauthorized website being accessed. So, it keeps us on our toes. We get to know that there is something wrong, and we can isolate the user and find any issues with it. So, threat detection is very robust in this tool.

    We can integrate any SaaS-based application with it. It can scan your network and physical devices and the software that you're using. It tries to fetch cumulative data when there are any authentication-related attacks or any network-related attacks and gives us some kind of intimation. We get real-time graphical data, and then we need to do our work to solve the problems.

    The product is great. The major benefit is that it is a Microsoft tool. So, if you're in a Microsoft ecosystem, this is the best tool that you can get in the market. In terms of experience, it is unlike any other tool. It is good enough to do all the jobs that other tools are doing. So, you don't need any other tool if you are using it in a Microsoft ecosystem. 

    What needs improvement?

    The response time could be better. It will be helpful if the alerts are even more proactive and we can see more data. Currently, the data is a little bit weak. It is not complete. I can't just see it and completely know which user or which device it is. It takes some effort and time on my part to investigate and isolate a user. It would be great if it is more user-friendly or easy for people to understand.

    If it is an Office 365 product, I expect it to be in the admin center. That way I would know that this is a part of Office 365. It feels like there is a mismatch, or they are trying to separate the product or do something like that. They should have streamlined the product.

    It is not always accurate. Sometimes, there could be some hiccups, and you see false positives, but security is not always reliable, and you cannot depend on one tool to give you all accurate results. It gives me a report that I can see, and if needed, I can act proactively on something. If it is a false positive, it is fine. If it is not, we know that we have done something about it.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We implemented it probably in 2019.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It is a new thing for Microsoft, and it still has a lot of room to improve.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    It is completely scalable out-of-the-box. It is completely in interaction with Office 365 services. It can go up to as many users as you have. So, if you have 100,000 users, it is capable of supporting them. I have some 50,000 users, and I'm happy that it is capable of doing that. We have implemented it 100%, and we are happy with what we have got.

    It is good for an enterprise company. It is not for a small-scale business. 

    How are customer service and support?

    We don't require support frequently. I would rate them a seven out of 10. If you have a critical situation, you cannot expect them to give you a call immediately. My experience has not been so great with their paid support in terms of time. Sometimes, they don't even call you back, but when you do get support from them, they are excellent. So, you can't rely on them, and their response time can be improved, but their documentation is good enough. We can read the documentation and help ourselves.

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

    Before this, my company had some tools, but I'm not sure about them. They probably heavily relied upon Splunk and other APM tools. They have had this tool from the time I have been here. Personally, I haven't worked on technologies outside of Microsoft.

    How was the initial setup?

    It is very easy if you know what you're doing. You just click on the Next button multiple times, and it is complete. It is well-documented in the sense that we know what we can expect from the tool. The documentation is great, and the support is also excellent. So, my experience was very smooth, and it was done in a day.

    It does not work on every license. You have to be an Enterprise customer, and you have to have a specific license to have the full benefits of it. So, you require the correct license, and you also need a certain amount of time for it to propagate. It is not immediate. Based on what we were told by Microsoft a few years ago, it takes 24 to 48 hours. They might have improved upon that. It tries to capture the complete environment details, and then it gives you a cumulative experience.

    We work around the clock. We have six admins at different time zones who work with this solution.

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

    Its pricing is on the higher side. Its price is definitely very high for a small-scale company.

    As an enterprise client, we do get benefits from Microsoft. We get a discounted price because of the number of users we have in our company. We have a premier package, and with that, we do get a lot of discounts. There are no additional costs. It only comes in the top-tier packages. Generally, the top-tier license is the best license that you can get for your organization. If you want, you can buy it separately, but that's not a good idea.

    This tool alone is not a great investment, but when you get it as a part of the package from Microsoft, it is good. Along with Microsoft Teams, Office, Exchange, SharePoint, and other solutions, this added feature of an extra layer of security makes a lot of sense. If you are only using this tool, and it is not in a Microsoft ecosystem, then it is not worth it.

    What other advice do I have?

    For Office 365 environments, there is a great add-on benefit that comes with the Microsoft licensing package. If you have a Microsoft ecosystem, you can get it, and there is no need for any other tool. If you're not in a Microsoft ecosystem, don't bother buying it. It is a good competitor to other products such as Splunk. 

    It has not affected our end-user experience in any way. The reason being this is an admin-oriented program, and it does not involve any end user. It just collects data from end-users and gives it to us. After that, it is up to us to act upon it. It does not do anything on its own. It is a threat detection tool, and it doesn't do anything on its own. We have to act to resolve a problem. For example, it will only say, "There is a user who is doing this. Do you want to act upon it? Yes or no?" Based on that, as an admin, we can do certain tasks remotely. The end-user will not know about it. We will see if there is a real threat, and we'll act upon it.

    I would rate it a 10 out of 10. It is improving, but it still needs more improvements.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    Public Cloud
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user
    Cyber Security Engineer at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    Built-in templates provide security posture recommendations
    Pros and Cons
    • "There are a lot of features with benefits, including discovery, investigation, and putting controls around things. You can't say that you like the investigation part but not the discovery. Everything is correlated; that's how the tool works."
    • "Currently, reporting is not very straightforward and it needs to be enhanced. Specific reports are not included and you need to run a query, drill down, and then export it and share it. I would love to have reports with more fine-tuning or granularity, and more predefined reports."

    What is our primary use case?

    It's used for data governance and security. It's a cloud security tool providing very good discovery around whatever is happening in your organization, such as what users are doing on the internet and how data is flowing out of your organization. It is then used to put controls around what information can go out, who downloads what, and how much they can download. It helps put controls around these types of things to create secure collaboration between your organization and its partners, customers, and vendors.

    It's a SaaS platform. It's not like hardware or software where you install new updates or new versions. It's controlled by Microsoft in the backend.

    How has it helped my organization?

    They have made built-in templates. If you integrate your AWS account with Microsoft MCAS, using the predefined templates it will scan all the functionalities that are available or accessible after the integration. It will then provide security posture recommendations around issues such as how many buckets you have publicly available, what data is not encrypted, what is publicly available and insecure, and which devices are not backed up. It helps you to understand your security posture and to enhance it.

    And when it comes to secure collaboration, if you have information that you have already restricted and you don't want it to be shared outside of your organization, with the help of MCAS session policies you can put controls around it. It's integrated with storage solutions and you can put the controls around things using labels such "classified," "restricted," or "confidential."

    Another scenario where MCAS is helpful is when people are leaving your organization soon. It can happen that they hide and start downloading certain documents and files. MCAS can help identify mass downloads or mass uploads and what the user is doing. That kind of detailed analysis is available to senior management or the security team so that they can take whatever steps are necessary.

    What is most valuable?

    There are a lot of features with benefits, including

    • discovery 
    • investigation
    • putting controls around things.

    You can't say that you like the investigation part but not the discovery. Everything is correlated; that's how the tool works. Once the discovery of everything you feed into it is done, it gives you a nice dashboard. You can then plan what needs to be controlled and governed, and what should not be accessible in your environment.

    It's quite well integrated with all Microsoft services, like Information Protection, Azure Portal, and Azure IoT, among other things. There are also integrations with AWS and Salesforce.

    What needs improvement?

    Although they are already doing it, I would like to see more integration with market leaders like Slack.

    Another area that can be improved is to provide more reporting functionality. Currently, reporting is not very straightforward and it needs to be enhanced. Specific reports are not included and you need to run a query, drill down, and then export it and share it. I would love to have reports with more fine-tuning or granularity, and more predefined reports.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We have been using Microsoft Cloud App Security for at least the last two and a half years. We are a Microsoft partner. We do everything for their products, from design to implementation.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's stable. It's more stable than other Microsoft services. In my two and a half years of experience with MCAS, there have only been two times that it went down and was not accessible to us. The services, policies, and controls were there. It was just that we were not able to access them. 

    Whatever Microsoft has committed to in terms of stability, "99 point something," is pretty much true.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    It's a SaaS solution so the scalability depends purely on the organization: How many applications do they want to integrate with it and do they have the corporate licenses? MCAS itself is scalable. You don't need to deal with servers, or RAM, or finding a new data center. Scaling it is purely up to you and depends on how much data you want to feed it and on the use cases you want to use it for.

    How are customer service and support?

    I use Microsoft tech support at the highest levels. The experience with their tech support, as a partner, purely depends on what kind of contract you have and what kind of a relationship you have. If you have a very good relationship, you get responses when you need them. But when you talk about bugs or you are asking for a feature, you have to wait for their product life cycle. Overall, their support is good. Not average, but not excellent.

    How would you rate customer service and support?

    Neutral

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup of Cloud App Security is quite straightforward. It's not complex. Microsoft's documentation around it is absolutely great. It guides you through the settings you need to configure and whatever apps you need to integrate. There is no difficulty in getting it up and running. It is more seamless than any other solution. It is even easier to run on Windows machines because the documentation is very good. They have very clearly described what needs to be done.

    Once you have all the requirements, like your user account and license, a person can configure it in a day because it's a SaaS solution. But the time it will take depends on the fine-tuning, and that is determined by why you are using MCAS. That's the important part. If you're looking at user behavior, or if you're looking at data, or if you're looking at infrastructure security posture, each of these will affect the time it takes. If it's just for shadow IT, it will take one or two days to configure. If you're integrating it with AWS to help with your security posture, it will take three or four days.

    One engineer who has prior experience is more than enough, but having two guys for setup might be better.

    Day-to-day maintenance, again, depends on how you are going to utilize it. If you already have a SOC running with four or five people in it and your environment is small to medium in size, five people can use this tool and get value out of it. If you are talking about an organization like Walmart or Microsoft or a multinational company that has users across regions, you will need more people to support it. MCAS is a tool. It will have the data, but you will need to use it.

    What was our ROI?

    I'm not involved with the cost side of the solution so I don't know how much has been invested in MCAS. But where it's adding value is around the controls. I'm sure there are savings in that regard.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    I have not implemented any other solutions, but I looked into Zscaler cloud security. Because Zscaler is an independent company, it doesn't have that many solutions with Microsoft. A cloud app security solution should have native products as well as integration with many other products. On that point, Microsoft is way ahead. For example, 80 percent of the world is using Office 365 for email services and 60 percent are using SharePoint for information sharing. Because these tools are Windows products, the controls become easy to implement.

    What other advice do I have?

    My advice is to use it to its fullest capabilities. It has a lot of features and it is being enhanced daily. It's a full engine that you can use to discover all your assets in the cloud, whether they are on a public cloud or a private cloud. Every month or every quarter, look at what's new and how you can leverage it. You're already paying for those enhancements so use them, fine-tune them, and optimize them. The tool has a lot of capabilities. A lot of people only utilize it for information protection or tracking user activity or for their cloud-based security posture. Use it all. There's a lot in it.

    MCAS is not a tool that interacts with end-users because there is no client. They don't know that MCAS is in the picture, so it doesn't impact the end-user.

    The biggest lesson I would take from the use of Microsoft Cloud App Security is that you are being monitored. Do not use your professional device for personal use because there are more eyes and controls around.

    In addition, the way you use MCAS is that you discover and then you put the controls in place to govern things. That's how any other security tool works. You first put it in learning mode to see what will happen. For example, If I put in this or that control, how much will it impact my end-users? In those terms, MCAS has been really nice.

    If you have a lot in the Microsoft environment or AWS or Google Cloud, it's going to help you a lot.

    Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
    PeerSpot user
    Adedapo Adeniji - PeerSpot reviewer
    Modern Workplace Solution Architect at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
    Real User
    Top 10
    Built-in alerts help create robust policies, but delays in triggering alert emails is an issue
    Pros and Cons
    • "I like the alert policies because they are quite robust. It has some built-in templates that we can easily pick up. One of them is the alert for mass downloads, when a particular user is running a massive download on your SharePoint site."
    • "It doesn't actually decrease the time to respond. This has been an issue with Microsoft recently. Sometimes, there is a delay when it comes to getting an alert policy email... Sometimes it takes two or three hours for that email to be sent."

    What is our primary use case?

    We use it for security and compliance. We use it for alert policies on activities happening on some of our on-premises and cloud applications. We also use it to restrict some users from downloading files from OneDrive or from some of the applications that we have. In addition, we integrate it with the Azure Active Directory Conditional Access policy.

    How has it helped my organization?

    It gives our clients a sense of confidence that in case there are activities on some of their applications, they will get an alert and the issue will be mitigated, based on the action that has been set. It gives them a sense of comfort that the product helps them secure some of their applications. It depends on the admin who is managing the product. If the admin is not knowledgeable, it might be an issue. But if the admin is knowledgeable, the organization can rest assured that it is covered when it comes to malicious activities on some of its applications.

    What is most valuable?

    I like the alert policies because they are quite robust. It has some built-in templates that we can easily pick up. One of them is the alert for mass downloads when a particular user is running a massive download on your SharePoint site. If a user is downloading multiple files in an unusual manner you get an alert.

    Another built-in alert is what we call an "impossible traveler alert." If a user logs on from a US IP address at 10:00 AM and, less than 30 minutes later, the same user shows as being logged on from an IP address in the United Kingdom, there is no way you can travel from the US to the UK in 30 minutes. That alert will be triggered.

    You can also input an action to be triggered for an alert. You block the user or just alert the admin or manager of that user.

    It also comes with in-depth visibility, whereby it creates a pattern. If a user has been flagged multiple times, you can see that pattern. It shows you the IP addresses from which that user has been signing in recently. And it provides you with the kind of suspicious pattern that this particular user has been using over time. So it has very robust visibility.

    It also gives you a graphic interface, which is something that I enjoy. If an alert is a very high risk, you see it in red, while if it's medium, you see it in yellow. A low risk doesn't come with any color. It gives me an appreciable pattern of user activities. It covers one month in case you want to deep dive to see the login pattern for your user.

    Also, we currently use Defender for Identity, Defender for Endpoint, and Defender for Microsoft 365. All of them have been integrated into our plans. It was quite easy to integrate them. It's just the click of a button to activate it and then a matter of configuring your alert policies. Defender for Cloud Apps works together with Defender for Endpoint as well as with Azure Active Directory. With the latter, you can use the Conditional Access policy to integrate them so that they work together seamlessly.

    The fact that these solutions work natively together gives us the advantage of having multiple security solutions doing different things. It's very important for them to work seamlessly together.

    What needs improvement?

    One challenge is integrating the cloud apps with third-party and on-premises systems. We have had some scenarios where some third-party systems were not compatible with them. Apart from that, it's quite easy to integrate.

    Microsoft has also been able to bring all the security features to a particular portal, so you don't have to look around. But I've heard about some negative effects as a result, as the portal is now cumbersome. You have a whole lot of products there and it makes the whole portal jumbled. It's not bad for me because I just have to go to that particular portal and check whatever I have to check.

    It doesn't actually decrease the time to respond. This has been an issue with Microsoft recently. Sometimes, there is a delay when it comes to getting an alert policy email. I can't stay on the portal all day looking through alerts that have been triggered. So we create a flow whereby, if an alert is triggered, an email should be sent. Sometimes it takes two or three hours for that email to be sent. The response time, sometimes, can be very slow.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I have been using Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps for three to four years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    Performance-wise, the stability is good, but I wouldn't say very good because of the email alert delay issue I mentioned. But when you configure action and particular parameters, the option is carried out, more or less like an automaton.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    It's scalable. Once you have acquired the license, you can easily deploy it and add more users to the policies you have configured.

    We run a hybrid environment. We have four sites on the domain controller. It is deployed both for users on the cloud and on-premises in different locations. We have some located in the US and some in Europe. So we have the product across multiple locations.

    Some of the policies we have configured cover 500 users and one of them covers over 500 users.

    I've seen an improvement, over time, in the comprehensiveness of the protection our Microsoft products provide. They are improving on the products year over year. I remember quite well when Defender for Cloud Apps started, there were limited third-party applications that you could integrate with it. But now, there are multiple options for third-party applications that you can integrate with. There are also features that have been added to it. Microsoft is working to improve on it.

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

    We did not have a previous solution.

    What was our ROI?

    Since it is embedded with some of the Microsoft 365 licenses, it is like an add-on, and you can create robust configurations with it. You're getting an additional value for the license you have. To me, that is a return on investment.

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

    The pricing is fair. One good thing about Defender for Cloud Apps is that it comes with some of the Microsoft licenses: Microsoft 365 E3 and E5. It also comes with EMS, the Enterprise Mobility & Security.

    What other advice do I have?

    My advice would be to do an assessment of whether you actually need this particular product. Some people confuse Defender for Cloud Apps with Defender for Microsoft 365, but they are two different products. You also need to confirm if it supports the applications you want to protect because there are some applications that have yet to be integrated with it. Apart from that, it's a good product for any security admin to use.

    When it comes to helping prioritize threats, it depends on the angle you're looking at the results from. It can help 50 percent. When you look at the pattern of alerts over time, it can help you prioritize. But if you're looking at it in general, it is not going to give you that visibility into prioritizing.

    Defender for Cloud Apps has a little bit of automation for routine tasks, but it doesn't really give an admin automated processes. And when it comes to taking proactive steps, it's more Defender for Endpoint that helps there. Defender for Cloud Apps doesn't help you to prevent an impending attack.

    If you are looking to protect your environment, you need to spend more money. I wouldn't say that this solution helps to save money. But by protecting your financial documents from fraud or from an angry worker that is about to leave, it helps in saving money, but not in terms of cutting costs.

    The maintenance is not significant because you don't need to update anything. All you have to do is go to your portal and check for and investigate any alerts. Maintenance is handled by Microsoft.

    And in the "best of breed versus a single vendor" debate, you should just have a single vendor. In this case you know, "Okay, it's Microsoft," and it's best to just stick with what you know. It depends on what works for you though. For somebody who is comfortable using third-party products with Microsoft, maybe that will work for them. But for me, what is comfortable is using Microsoft products.

    Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
    Flag as inappropriate
    PeerSpot user
    Ibikunle Imam - PeerSpot reviewer
    COO at Floating-Dot Technology LTD
    Real User
    Top 10
    Our reaction time is now faster when eliminating problems
    Pros and Cons
    • "Everything from Microsoft is integrated. You receive regular reports on them all. You can push your reports, logs, and security alerts, which are all integrated. It is crucial that these solutions work natively together to deliver coordinated detection and response across our environment."
    • "We would like to get more information from the endpoint. I don't get enough detailed information right now on why something failed. There is not enough visibility."

    What is our primary use case?

    We help develop and mostly support applications for clients. It creates reports for clients. It works with Microsoft SQL Server and can tell clients if they need some governance standards for user security profiles. For example, if they are using Linux VM, then there are some security updates that come up. If they haven't been updated, they get a prompt telling them, "Look at this CSV security vulnerability. It should be updated as this part of your application."

    We have our main office in Lagos with other offices in the UK and America. Due to COVID, we are mostly working remotely and having meetings online. There are 55 endpoints.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Due to COVID, most of my users are remote. Because of that, we need to manage their applications and let them log on from home. They also have their own personal devices that they are using. So, we have to give them access to those.

    My staff uses personal devices that seem to always have issues with malware. So, it notifies me if there is an issue. I can check their usage and the audit logs, e.g., when people logged in last and if they are logged onto a tenant, to see where the issues are. We might tell them to change their login details or reset their two-factor authentication if there is an issue.

    They don't have access to the desktop Microsoft Defender Antivirus suite. I need to manage it from the cloud, where I restrict access to the account. They can download a zip file to a folder, then do whatever they want, but I don't give them freedom anymore because the users are always having issues.

    When our CEO travels, someone is always trying to hack into his account. We have banned Russian IP addresses, as this is where most of the threats are coming from.

    What is most valuable?

    There are security settings that report and advise you on your security settings. The governance reports give you guidance on security vulnerabilities and how to remedy them.

    It tells you whether something is high, middle, or low risk, giving you a risk profile. It lets you know which one to handle first.

    Everything from Microsoft is integrated. You receive regular reports on them all. You can push your reports, logs, and security alerts, which are all integrated. It is crucial that these solutions work natively together to deliver coordinated detection and response across our environment.

    This Microsoft security solution has helped eliminate the need to look at multiple dashboards and given us a single XDR dashboard. This is one of the main features that we like about the solution. We have one dashboard. Anybody who is a part of the security team can look at it and say, "Okay, this is what I noticed." Then, we can have a short discussion on how to remediate or enhance services.

    I would give the comprehensiveness of the threat-protection that these Microsoft security products provide a high score. 

    Sometimes, Microsoft sends us information and recommendations about changing all our configurations due to something they noticed. So, their reports improve our uptime availability and provide a seamless service for our clients. 

    What needs improvement?

    The visibility is 85%. Sometimes, it takes too long to load your page because Microsoft is having issues. There are a certain amount of hours in a day to solve and rectify issues. If you deploy this solution for a client, you need to be able to respond or rectify issues. Because if the solution goes down, your clients won't be happy with you.

    We would like to get more information from the endpoint. I don't get enough detailed information right now on why something failed. There is not enough visibility.

    The cost could be improved when you need to pay for anything. For example, refreshing files takes time to load, though it may be my Internet. To improve the refresh time, Microsoft says that we need to pay for a Premium license, and I don't like paying for things that help make a solution better.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I have been using it for three years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The stability is about 95%. I have called and complained to Microsoft about the downtime.

    It doesn't require any maintenance.

    How are customer service and support?

    Sometimes it will take time for Microsoft to respond to technical issues. However, once they start working on an issue, they will try to resolve it. I would rate the technical support as eight out of 10.

    How would you rate customer service and support?

    Positive

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

    We didn't use another solution prior to this one. We have always used Microsoft.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial deployment was straightforward. Afterward, there were issues due to licensing issues moving from Google to Microsoft. It was not free.

    It took a couple of hours to make everything work to our specifications. I tried to automate as much as I could with scripts.

    What about the implementation team?

    I migrated my clients from Google to Microsoft.

    What was our ROI?

    Our reaction time is now faster when eliminating problems. We see the generated reports and logs much faster than before when we have to go to different places.

    It reduces support calls for internal users. For example, it reduces the number of times that internal callers contact support for password issues.

    Issues that frequently used to take support an hour are now only happening every blue moon. This is largely due to the predictive trend reports from the solution.

    We have seen a 35% to 45% cost reduction with this solution.

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

    You can activate a free tier of use for a period of time.

    When the SolarWinds vulnerability came up, that caused a lot of issues. Our clients got regular updates. It did a scan for them, so they didn't have to start worrying. That was the free tier. 

    With the other tiers, you pay more for each feature it gives you, e.g., the security push or regulatory compliance, without you paying extra for that too, which has been advantageous.

    We also use Microsoft Defender for Cloud. With other models, you need to pay for an agent, and there is a cost. I don't like spending money. So, we use the free ones a lot. We evaluate the solutions that we need to pay for on a case-by-case basis, then we can decide if we really need them at all.

    Sentinel would probably be the cheapest of all SIEM and SOAR solutions. I am not paying for everything because it is hosted by Microsoft. I am not paying the infrastructure costs. The app of this solution is updated regularly. I don't have to worry about that. So, the cost is very cheap for me, except when I have to pay for specific agents. Then, I have to think about the cost.

    There are costs associated with SQL Server and Linux as well as their agents.

    What other advice do I have?

    Microsoft makes sense because it integrates with many applications and provides. However, it depends on your infrastructure.

    Endpoint Security is part of the Microsoft Defender suite. We use it to manage systems and force them to update. They can also revoke access to a tenant.

    Microsoft Sentinel logs all our reports. This gives us better visibility. This enables us to ingest data from our entire ecosystem. It also allows us to provide security posture reports to our clients. Before starting a contract with a business, we create a report and give that to clients, showing how we handle and solve problems. The report shows our environment and uptime. 

    Sentinel enables us to investigate threats and respond holistically from one place. From there, we can now troubleshoot where the issue is coming from. This is for our endpoint or when my external users are trying to access the service. This is very important to us because it makes life easier. We don't have to start running around checking this interface with another interface and a third or fourth interface. It is a single interface and we can get more raw data than what we configured Sentinel to ingest.

    The comprehensiveness of Sentinel’s security protection is very high. We don't really use other providers. We use it to connect to AWS or Google Cloud Platform infrastructure to get information on how deployed loads are performing.

    I would rate them as nine out of 10.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    Public Cloud

    If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Flag as inappropriate
    PeerSpot user
    Buyer's Guide
    Download our free Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.
    Updated: November 2022
    Buyer's Guide
    Download our free Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.