Microsoft Defender, the The enterprise security app is now available to anyone who has a Microsoft 365 subscription, the online productivity suite that includes Word, Excel and more. Unlike previously released Microsoft Defender software that was built into Windows computers exclusively, this version is available on Windows, Android, macOSand iOS devices.
Owners of Windows computers without Microsoft 365 do not have to sweat; Microsoft still preinstalls software on Windows to protect against viruses and other malware. This software is now simply labeled as Windows Security. Aside from accessing a security dashboard where all your connected devices are visible, there is not much extra incentive for Windows owners to download the new Microsoft Defender app.
Microsoft is expanding the protection options for Mac and smartphone owners using Microsoft 365. However, not all devices receive the same protection. On Mac, anti-malware protection is provided by Microsoft Defender, while web protection is not.
On the other hand, iPhones and Android devices are capable of using web protection from Microsoft Defender. The web protection runs a virtual private network on your smartphone in the background and tries to intervene if dangerous hyperlinks appear. Microsoft claims that the data from your browser history is stored on your device and not shared with your company. Learn even more about VPNs and boost your digital privacy with WIRED senior writer and reviewer Scott Gilbertson’s guide to the best VPNs. In addition to web protection, the anti-malware protection from Microsoft Defender for Android phones is supported.
The new Microsoft Defender app is designed to be used specifically by consumers – as in families and individuals. Although the names are similar, Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is a separate security package for companies. Microsoft has instructions on its website to help you understand the Endpoint version and how switch between accounts.
If you are not one Microsoft 365 subscriber but want to get Microsoft Defender, a personal plan costs $ 70 a year, and a family plan for up to six people costs $ 100 a year. With a subscription to Microsoft 365, you get OneDrive cloud storage access, in addition to both online and downloadable versions of popular software such as Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint. (Check out this article from WIRED contributor David Nield if you’re looking for a free version of Microsoft Word.)
So who benefits from the new Microsoft Defender? The features offered are slim at the moment and it may not be as involved as software from Norton or McAfee, but that can be a good thing, as the Defender is more lightweight than any of these options. With that in mind, the sheer amount of devices tracked from a single dashboard can be a boon for family leaders trying to keep an eye on the entire crew’s safety across multiple devices.
Subscribers to the individual Microsoft 365 subscription can have Microsoft Defender protect five devices at once. For those who have the family subscription, you can simultaneously protect up to 30 devices. The suite sends you alerts when grandma downloads malware to her computer (again), or teens on their smartphones click on a malicious link.
Are you looking for even more strategies to strengthen your digital security? WIRED has useful advice on everything from password protection of your files to keeping the spicy images private. You would not leave your front door unlocked while running errands, and with so much of our lives experienced online, it makes just as much sense to take protective measures on your computer and smartphone.