What is our primary use case?
I offer a Security Operation Center (SOC), which is like a person standing and going through the metal detector at the airport. We're like the staff standing there and watching people and then having them send stuff through the conveyor. It is real-time detection and response.
I don't use Microsoft Defender that much. If I come across a client who doesn't want to spend on a different endpoint solution, I just have them use Microsoft Defender that is built into their devices.
How has it helped my organization?
The ransomware and some of the other features that are built into it give you more telemetry now. From the security side, I don't look at what an endpoint solution does. I look at what it gives me. I need data. I don't want something to just say, "Oh, I stopped it." That's good, but I need to be able to figure out what did it stop. Was it a good thing or a bad thing that it stopped, and what is it doing. I need to be able to break that down and go deeper into that analysis to figure out what is being stopped. Microsoft Defender is doing that now and is giving more telemetry. It doesn't give nearly as much as Bitdefender does, but it is pretty good.
It is built into Windows 10. So, I don't really have to go out and get an extra or a separate endpoint security solution. It stands on its own. I have some clients who are using Microsoft Defender, and it is perfectly fine because my SOC can actually get the telemetry from Microsoft Defender and use that as well. Microsoft Defender does have the telemetry information, and I can get some of that out of it for my SOC. I can use what's built into it to stop and do more of a response layer. I can use Microsoft Defender to stop something right there.
What is most valuable?
I like the fact that it has the ransomware solution in there. I'm glad that the ransomware solution is built into it. That's probably the biggest thing that I see in Microsoft Defender.
It is useful when a client does not want to spend extra on getting a new endpoint solution or does not want to get something else installed on their devices.
What needs improvement?
The biggest thing that I would emphasize to Microsoft is that if they are confident in their solution, they should brag more about it. In other words, they should put more stuff out there to prove that they're just as good as the others. The biggest thing is that people still don't believe in it. When it comes to the IT world, they still don't believe in Microsoft Defender. It has been there for a while, and I know that I used to not trust it because it was free and I didn't know what it was doing and if I could trust it. If you go to comparison sites, you would hardly see it being compared to solutions like Norton, Bitdefender, Webroot, etc. Microsoft can do a better job of promoting it.
They should offer more telemetry or more information coming out of there for Syslog type of scenario so that a SOC could use the data that they have built into it. This would be useful.
It is not very scalable from the eyes of an MSP because there is no dashboard that you can use to see all of your devices that have Windows Defender unless you have your own dashboard or an RMM tool to actually look at it. So, you might not get to know that a particular computer of a client is doing something, and it might have got a virus. That person might know that, but unless you set it up to actually send you the information, you won't get to know that. That's one of the things that is hard with Microsoft Defender. It is not made for the MSP world where you have one pane of glass to see all of your clients with Microsoft Defender on it unless your RMM tool already has that built-in and it can see the telemetry from Microsoft Defender.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been using it off and on for some time.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Its stability is fine. It is a built-in and legacy solution. It can stand up to any other endpoint security solution.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It is not very scalable from the eyes of an MSP. There is no dashboard that you can use to see all of your devices that have Windows Defender unless you have your own dashboard or an RMM tool to actually look at it. Because it doesn't give you one pane of glass to look at everything, you have to have an RMM tool that can actually see the data coming from Microsoft Defender. If you don't have an RMM tool, you would need one, and that would be an extra cost.
I don't really use an RMM tool. We have a SOC, and I don't really deal with individual computers themselves. In the past, I have used RMM tools, and some of them do well with looking at Microsoft Defender, but my SOC has a really good dashboard that I can use to see what's going on with Microsoft Defender. I can actually control stuff on Microsoft Defender from my SOC.
How are customer service and technical support?
I have not used their support for Microsoft Defender. Generally, their support is fine. They've definitely improved and gotten better.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
I don't use Microsoft Defender that much. It is built into Windows 10, and if you put the antivirus or endpoint security on, it kind of turns itself off automatically. I've been using Bitdefender lately. I used to use Panda Security, but now I use Bitdefender.
I recommend it for clients who don't want to spend on a different endpoint solution, but I don't put all my eggs in one basket. I don't say that a particular antivirus or endpoint security solution is 10 times better than the other one. I just don't look at things that way because I know the process and what hackers actually go through to get past all of them. So, none of them are that much better. The only thing I tell others is to not use the free ones, but to that defense, they all have a level of reachability.
When it comes to performance, Microsoft Defender is much faster because it really doesn't look at all of the things that are Microsoft-focused. It has a better understanding of what Microsoft has made, whereas other solutions are going to look at anything as a potential threat. It is definitely a better option because it knows Windows. You install another antivirus on Windows, it has to try to figure out the software. Microsoft already knows how Word, OneNote, or their other solutions work. So, Microsoft Defender doesn't need to scan specific things, whereas Bitdefender or another solution doesn't know that, and it is going to scan everything, which can slow your system down.
I offer a SOC, and we do real-time detection and response. I don't put all my eggs in one basket when it comes to endpoint security. I believe endpoint security needs to be there because it is a layer of security, but it is not everything. The reason I use Bitdefender is that it has more telemetry and more information coming out of it to put into my SOC than Microsoft Defender, which doesn't have as much telemetry coming out of it.
For telemetry or forensics, Microsoft Defender doesn't give you reports. It just does what it does. Microsoft Defender will give you information, but you got to go to the individual device. I can't pull much telemetry information into a SOC. So, if you want to see from where the hacker or the hacking software came in, how it got there, and how it moved unilaterally across the system or network, you may not get all of that with Microsoft Defender, but with the telemetry data that comes out of Bitdefender, you will get more of such information and you can follow its path.
How was the initial setup?
It just comes on a device when you buy it. When you buy a laptop, it is built into Windows 10. They have Windows Security, and there are separate pieces of it. When you look into some of it, it is called Defender. They also have a standalone Windows Defender.
It is a full endpoint security solution, and they have a firewall in there. You can go in there and set different things up for your firewall. When it comes to security, not everything is turned on. You actually have to go in and turn the ransomware part on. There are things about ransomware that you got to turn on, and they really depend on what you need in your practice or business. You have to make sure you go in there and look at it. You can't just set it and forget it. It does come automatically, but you got to go in there and set things up because they know that some things can stop certain aspects of your business from running. So, they don't want to turn everything on. They leave it up to you.
The configuration of those extra parts can get complex, but I do believe it is pretty straightforward. It involves more yes or no type of questions. It is just flipping a switch on each individual part that you want to use. It is just like everything else. You have to test and see if it is going to work in your environment.
In terms of maintenance, all the updates come with Microsoft. Every time they update Windows 10, they also update Microsoft Defender. It is pretty simple.
What was our ROI?
It doesn't really affect my business because the cost goes out to my client either way. If they have 200 devices and they are charged $2 per endpoint for each one of them, that's an extra $400 a month. If they are just using Microsoft Defender built into their systems, that cost goes away for them. My clients are definitely saving money with Microsoft Defender.
It doesn't affect my business because I'm looking at telemetry regardless of the solution. So, it doesn't matter if it is coming from Microsoft Defender or Bitdefender.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
It is built into Windows 10. If our clients are using Microsoft Defender, the cost goes away for them.
What other advice do I have?
It is just like anything. You should definitely do your homework and see if it is going to give you the information that you need. You should focus on forensics and the kind of information you are going to get out of Microsoft Defender. Will you get the reporting that you need? Will you get the telemetry and all the data that you need to be able to follow the path of an attack? You need to be able to see that. You need to know this information for your clients because they may need it for the FBI or something else. So, you need as much information as you can. You need to make sure that that you're going to get the information out of there and you have the right setup to be able to see everything with all of your clients. You should have an RMM tool or whatever you're using to be able to see all of your clients, and you need to make sure that you have the setup for that.
Microsoft Defender has been around for many years, and since Windows 10, they've really ramped it up, and it has gotten a lot better. I've seen some of the statistics on it, and it stands up against some of the other solutions out there, such as Norton. They've added things that make it more of an EDR, which is the endpoint detection and response layer. The ransomware was one of the big add-ons, and it is good that they've put that in there. It can stand on its own now.
It has not affected our organization's security posture a lot, but it has given me more options to lower costs for my clients. It has helped my clients and in turn, my business. It has not affected our end-user experience in a negative or a positive way. It is just a tool. I do the monitoring, stopping, blocking, and everything else for clients.
It can be a good solution, and I hope that they grow with it and do more with it. They can make it simpler for the security and MSP world. If their solution just gets better for the MSP world, it would help everyone.
I would rate Microsoft Defender a seven out of 10 because of its lack of usability for an MSP and its lack of telemetry information, but it is useful, and it does stop ransomware.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.