What is Microsoft Defender for Endpoint?

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint (MDE) is an innovative security solution meant to protect devices (endpoints) and data from cyber threats. The tool allows IT administrators and security teams to prevent, detect and respond to everyday and advanced threats on network devices.


What Makes Defender for Endpoint an Advancement in Endpoint Security?

What makes Defender for Endpoint stand out from other device security software is its EDR (endpoint Detection and Response) capabilities. EDR continuously monitors devices to detect and respond to threats. EDR technology is a major shift from the traditional signature matching of past antivirus solutions – matching and flagging a file based on its binary or a specific pattern matching known virus. Defender EDR uses behavioral-based machine learning algorithms for detecting suspicious activities and uses automation to respond to advanced threats when they occur. This is an evolution in capability that makes for a more comprehensive security approach.  


Defender for Endpoint’s automated remediation capability allows the system to take action to block access or deactivate a user when a behavioral abnormality occurs. This capability can be turned on or off, and when on does not require assistance from an administrator to halt suspected attacks.  This drastically eliminates blind spots for admins in their respective environments and puts Defender for Endpoint at an advantage compared to other security tools.


What makes Defender for Endpoint an even stronger security solution is Microsoft’s ability to collect telemetry from a global network of clients. There is no other technology provider with the volume of signals that Microsoft receives (43 trillion daily). Defender for Endpoint uses this to its advantage, leveraging known threat patterns and behaviors from collected data to deliver a dynamically secure and comprehensive program.


Some of the key benefits for businesses looking to leverage Defender for Endpoint include:


Asset Discovery

Unmanaged devices are an all-too-common vector of attack. Defender for Endpoint’s asset discovery feature works to discover and unenroll unmanaged devices that can threaten your network.  Leveraging this feature, admins have an easy ability to assess unmanaged devices and then make a remediation plan to get all devices under management.

What’s great about Asset Discovery is that it requires no additional process changes on your behalf. The tool uses existing enrolled devices to discover other unenrolled devices.


Threat and Vulnerability Management

The Threat and Vulnerability component of Defender for Endpoint allows for easy and ongoing threat discovery, and an organized method for prioritization of the vulnerability, and an advanced remediation process to nullify vulnerabilities.

This feature most closely reflects traditional antivirus.


Attack Surface Reduction

Another component of what makes Defender for Endpoint such a strong tool is its attack surface reduction capabilities. Attack Surface Reduction reduces or eliminates vectors of attack in your business that are vulnerable or exposed to an attack, without hindering end-user productivity.

Attack surface reduction rules allow you to restrict distinct behaviors, adding another layer of security for your endpoints.

Network protection pairs with these rules to construct a reputation-based prevention method made to keep unsanctioned apps from accessing areas of your environment that are sensitive. 

The capabilities that make the attack surface reduction possible:

  • HW-based isolation

  • Application control

  • Exploit protection

  • Controlled folder access

  • Device control

  • Web protection

  • Ransomware protection

Next-Generation Protection

Microsoft Defender Antivirus uses global telemetry from Microsoft signals, which works to detect and block attacks before they can have a negative impact on your environment.

It does so, by leveraging behavior monitoring, big data analysis, in-depth threat resources, and machine learning. This is called, Microsoft cloud infrastructure and real-time threat protection. The result is an advanced system for detecting and blocking malicious threats.  It does this by continuously collecting data on threats from their continuous flow of signals.

In effect, this means that a widespread attack may be detected and mitigated before it even gets to your tenant or domain. Once a new pattern is learned it is applied globally and you reap the benefit.


Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

The Endpoint Detection and Response feature, mentioned earlier in this article, integrates directly with Microsoft 365 tenants.  Through sophisticated attack detection, the EDR reports actionable threat possibilities in real-time to administrators.

It is important to note that Endpoint Plan 1 and Defender for Business only include manual response options whereas Endpoint Plan 2 comes with more sophisticated automation. Plan 2 is included with all Microsoft E5 (or A5 in education) licenses.


Automated Investigation and Remediation

This feature allows security teams to deep dive into threats while moving from alert to remediation at scale. Using inspection algorithms and processes that work to decipher if a threat requires action from your security team while additionally deciding what investigations take the next priority. What is particularly innovative about the automated investigation and remediation is that it allows security teams to move from an alert to remediation in a matter of minutes at scale.


Advantages You Can Expect with Defender for Endpoint

Protection against a wide range of cyber threats:

The solution is designed to detect and respond to a wide range of threats, including viruses, worms, and cyber-attacks that threaten devices and users.

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of Defender for Endpoint is its mobile threat protection tool, which is something only a small percentage of competitors currently have available. It uses a combination of tactics including real-time threat detection and response, machine learning, and behavioral analysis to identify and block malicious activity. This means you can extend EDR to all your devices, not just Windows.


Real-time monitoring and alerts:

The solution continuously monitors devices and sends alerts if it detects any suspicious activity.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint uses machine learning and behavioral-based techniques to monitor suspicious activity on endpoint devices in real-time. It can detect and alert active malware attempts, as well as uncover new and previously unknown threats.

For example, if Defender for Endpoint detects that a file on a device is behaving in a way that is characteristic of malware, it will generate an alert and take action to block or quarantine the file to prevent the further spread of the threat. Additionally, it will also provide detailed information on the attack, and the impacted endpoint and suggest remediation steps.


Automated response

Another exciting feature of Defender for Endpoint is its ability to automatically take actions to contain and remediate threats, such as quarantining or removing malware. It is able to automatically respond to potential security threats on a device or network, keeping the business’ security infrastructure agile. It does this by using a combination of machine learning, behavioral analysis, and threat intelligence to identify and respond to malicious activity.

An example of the functionality would be if Defender for Endpoint detects a piece of malware on a device, it may automatically quarantine the malware to prevent it from spreading and potentially causing damage to the device or network. Additionally, it may also generate an alert for the security team to review and take further action if necessary.


Integration with other security tools

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is integrated with other parts of the Microsoft security suite to provide a comprehensive security solution.

Some examples of the security tools that Defender for Endpoint can integrate with include:

  • Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) for identity and access management

  • Microsoft Intune for mobile device management

  • Azure Information Protection for data classification and encryption

  • Microsoft Cloud App Security for cloud app discovery and control

  • Microsoft Threat Protection for cross-domain threat detection and response

  • Sentinel for security incident and event management

Defender for Endpoint also integrates with many third-party security tools through the use of the Microsoft Graph Security API, which allows for the sharing of threat intelligence and security-related data.


Easy deployment

The solution can be easily deployed across multiple devices and platforms, including Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint (previously known as Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection) can be deployed in a few different ways, depending on the specific needs of your organization:


  1. Cloud-based deployment: This is the easiest and most straightforward way to deploy Defender for Endpoint. It doesn’t require any additional infrastructure and can be set up in just a few minutes.

  2. Hybrid deployment: This option allows you to manage your Defender for Endpoint protection from a local server instead of the cloud. This can be useful for organizations that have strict data sovereignty or compliance requirements.

  3. On-premises deployment: This is the most complex deployment option, and it’s typically used by large organizations that have very specific requirements for their endpoint protection. This option requires you to set up and manage your own infrastructure, including servers and databases.


To deploy Defender for Endpoint, you will need to sign up for an Azure subscription and set up your environment. Once that’s done, you can download the necessary software and install it on your endpoints. Then, you can use the Defender for Endpoint portal to manage your protection and view reports on your endpoints’ security status.


What devices does Defender for Endpoint Cover?

One of the major advantages of Defender for Endpoint is that its benefits extend beyond Windows devices. It is configurable not only with Windows devices but also macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and Android devices.


Microsoft 365 Business Premium

Microsoft 365 Business Premium licenses offer the following features for Defender for Endpoint

  • Automated Investigation and Response

  • Endpoint Detection and Response

  • Threat Analytics

  • Vulnerability Management (core)

  • Block at First Sight

  • Enhanced ASR

  • Tamper Protection

  • Web Content Filtering


Defender for Endpoint Plan 1

E3 and A3 licenses will grant teams access to Defender for Endpoint Plan 1. The features available include:  

  • The ability to access block at first sight

  • Centralized Management

  • Defender for Endpoint for Mac

  • Defender for Endpoint for Mobile

  • Enhanced ASR

  • Manual Response Actions

  • Tamper Protection

  • Web Content Filtering


Defender for Endpoint Plan 2

E5 and A5 licenses give teams access to Defender for Endpoint Plan 2, which includes all Plan 1 features plus the following:

  • Advanced Hunting

  • Automated Investigation and Response

  • Defender for Cloud Apps Integration

  • Endpoint Detection and Response

  • Evaluation Lab

  • Access to Microsoft Threat Experts

  • MIP Integration

  • Threat Analytics

  • Vulnerability Management (core)

  • 6 months of searchable data



Microsoft Defender for Endpoint helps businesses protect their devices and data from cyber threats, detect and respond to potential security breaches in real time, and automate response actions. It is an advanced tool that should be considered by businesses that take their environment’s security seriously. Should you want to learn more about Defender for Endpoint or have questions about setting it up, the team here at Mobile Mentor will be happy to walk you through the details.



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