All the Defenders–Updated

knight

A while back I wrote an article on All the Microsoft Defender products. It’s now time to update that since much has changed in that short time period.

Microsoft unfortunately has quite a few products under the ‘Defender’ banner that I see causing confusion out there. Most believe that ‘Defender’ is only an anti-virus solution, but that could not be further from the case. Hopefully, I can show you here how broad the ‘Defender’ brand is here and hopefully give you a basic idea of what each ‘Defender’ product is.

To start off with there are products that are considered ‘Window Defender’ products, although I see the Windows and Microsoft brand intermingled regularly. Here is a list of specific ‘Windows Defender’ products, typically tied to Windows 10 devices, and typically only available with Windows 10 Enterprise but not always:

Windows Defender Application Control – WDAC was introduced with Windows 10 and allows organizations to control what drivers and applications are allowed to run on their Windows 10 clients.

Windows Defender Firewall – By providing host-based, two-way network traffic filtering for a device, Windows Defender Firewall blocks unauthorized network traffic flowing into or out of the local device.

Windows Defender Exploit Guard – Automatically applies a number of exploit mitigation techniques to operating system processes and apps.

The four components of Windows Defender Exploit Guard are:

  • Attack Surface Reduction (ASR): A set of controls that enterprises can enable to prevent malware from getting on the machine by blocking Office-, script-, and email-based threats
  • Network protection: Protects the endpoint against web-based threats by blocking any outbound process on the device to untrusted hosts/IP through Windows Defender SmartScreen
  • Controlled folder access: Protects sensitive data from ransomware by blocking untrusted processes from accessing your protected folders
  • Exploit protection: A set of exploit mitigations (replacing EMET) that can be easily configured to protect your system and applications

Windows Defender Credential Guard –  Uses virtualization-based security to isolate secrets so that only privileged system software can access them.

Windows Defender System Guard – Reorganizes the existing Windows 10 system integrity features under one roof and sets up the next set of investments in Windows security. It’s designed to make these security guarantees:

  • Protect and maintain the integrity of the system as it starts up

  • Validate that system integrity has truly been maintained through local and remote attestation

In contrast, here are the ‘Microsoft Defender’ products many of which have been re-branded lately:

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Microsoft 365 Defender – (over arching service which includes other Defender services) is a unified pre- and post-breach enterprise defense suite that natively coordinates detection, prevention, investigation, and response across endpoints, identities, email, and applications to provide integrated protection against sophisticated attacks.

Microsoft Defender for Office 365 – (previously Office 365 ATP) Safeguards your organization against malicious threats posed by email messages, links (URLs), and collaboration tools.

Microsoft Defender for Identity – (previously Azure ATP) Cloud-based security solution that leverages your on-premises Active Directory signals to identify, detect, and investigate advanced threats, compromised identities, and malicious insider actions directed at your organization.

Azure Defender – (previously Azure Security Center) Provides security alerts and advanced threat protection for virtual machines, SQL databases, containers, web applications, your network, and more. It includes:

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint – (previously Defender ATP) an enterprise endpoint security platform designed to help enterprise networks prevent, detect, investigate, and respond to advanced threats especially on user devices like desktops, laptops and mobiles.

Microsoft Defender Smart screen – Microsoft Defender SmartScreen protects against phishing or malware websites and applications, and the downloading of potentially malicious files.

Microsoft Defender Antivirus – Brings together machine learning, big-data analysis, in-depth threat resistance research, and the Microsoft cloud infrastructure to protect devices in your organization.

Microsoft Defender Application Guard – helps to isolate enterprise-defined untrusted sites, protecting your company while your employees browse the Internet.

Microsoft Defender Security Center – is the portal where you can access Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection capabilities. It gives enterprise security operations teams a single pane of glass experience to help secure networks.

Microsoft Defender Browser Protection –  a non Microsoft browser extension helps protect you against online threats, such as links in phishing emails and websites designed to trick you into downloading and installing malicious software that can harm your computer.

So, as you can see, there are quite a lot of ‘Defender’ products out there from Microsoft. How and when you get each of these varies greatly as well as their capabilities, since most will integrate together. That however, is beyond the scope of this article but maybe something I explore in upcoming articles.

For now, just be careful to investigate what is actually meant when it says ‘Defender’ in the Microsoft space!

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