What Is Microsoft Defender? (All You Need To Know)

Whether you are highly invested in Microsoft products or not, you may have heard about Microsoft Defender, and are curious about what it is all about. 

If so, this is the article for you as it will help you to learn everything you need to know about Microsoft Defender, including, what some of its features are, what it protects, and so much more!

What Is Microsoft Defender In [currentyear]?

Microsoft Defender is a pre and post-breach enterprise defense program that helps to automatically detect, prevent, investigate, and respond across endpoints, identities, email, and applications to provide integrated protection against different types of attacks on your computer in [currentyear]. With this solution, security professionals can stitch together the threat signals and determine the full scope and impact of the threat. 

If you want to learn everything you need about Microsoft Defender, you will want to keep reading this article!

How Does Microsoft Defender Protect?

There are many different ways that Microsoft Defender helps to protect customers, and a few ways that it does this are as follows:

  • Endpoints with Defender for Endpoint – This is a unified endpoint platform for preventative protection, post-breach detection, automated investigation, and response.
  • Assets with Defender Vulnerability Management – Microsoft Defender Vulnerability Management delivers continuous asset visibility, intelligent risk-based assessments, and built-in remediation tools to help your security and IT teams prioritize and address critical vulnerabilities and misconfigurations across your organization.
  • Email and collaboration with Defender for Office 365 – Defender for Office 365 safeguard your organization against malicious threats posed by email messages, links, and collaboration tools.
  • Identities with Defender for Identity and Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) Identity Protection – Defender for Identity uses your on-premises Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) signals to identify, detect, and investigate advanced threats, compromised identities, and malicious insider actions directed at your organization. Azure AD Identity Protection automates the detection and remediation of identity-based risks in your cloud-based Azure AD.
  • Applications with Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps – Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps is a comprehensive cross-SaaS solution bringing deep visibility, strong data controls, and enhanced threat protection to your cloud apps.

What Are Some Features Of Microsoft Defender?

What Are Some Features Of Microsoft Defender?

Additionally, many features come with the Microsoft Defender program, some of which include the following:

  • Real-Time Protection – There are real-time protection options that come along with Microsoft defender. In a recent update, Limited Periodic Scanning was introduced and optionally allows Defender to scan a system periodically if another antivirus app is installed. Plus, it also introduced Block at First Sight, which uses machine learning to help predict whether a file is malicious. 
  • Browser Integration – Integration with Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge enables files to be scanned as they are downloaded to detect malicious software that has been downloaded unknowingly. Furthermore, as of 2018, MS Defender is also available for Google Chrome via an extension and works alongside Google Safe Browsing.
  • Application Guard – Defender Application Guard is a feature exclusive to MS Edge that was introduced in 2018. This prevents a malicious website or malware from affecting the system and the browser. Then, once installed, it will open your current tabs web page in MS Edge with Application Guard enabled. 
  • Controlled Folder Access – This feature was introduced with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update to protect a user’s important files from the growing threat of ransomware. Additionally, Controlled Folder Access was released approximately a year later after the Petya family of ransomware first appeared. With it, you will be notified every time a program tries to access these folders and will be blocked unless given access by the user. 

What Is The History Of Microsoft Defender?

Microsoft Defender wasn’t always the program we know today; it has undergone many name changes and adjustments over the years.

Furthermore, the Defender was initially based on GIANT AntiSpyware and was announced by Microsoft in 2004. 

Additionally, the first beta release of Microsoft AntiSpyware was in 2005 and was a repackaged version of GIANT AntiSpyware. 

Then, there were more modified builds released in 2005, with the last Beta 1 released in November of 2005. 

At the 2005 RSA Security conference, Bill Gates, who is the Chief Software Architect and co-founder of Microsoft, announced that MS AntiSpyware would be made free to its users.

This was to ensure the security of their systems against the increasing malware threat. 

In the same year, it was announced that Microsoft AntiSpyware was renamed Windows Defender.

Furthermore, beta 2 of this program was released in February of 2006, and it featured not only the program’s new name but also a redesigned user interface.

Additionally, the core engine was rewritten, which improved the performance of the application. 

Also, since Beta 2, the program works as a Windows service, unlike its earlier releases.

This enables the application to protect the system even when a user is not logged on. 

Beta 2 also requires Windows Genuine Advantage validation.

Sadly, Windows Defender did not contain some of the tools found in the earlier versions of Microsoft AntiSpyware.

For instance, Microsoft removed the System Inoculation, Secure Shredder, and System Explorer tools found in MSAS as well as the Tracks Eraser tool.

In October 2006, Microsoft released its final version of Windows Defender. This version supports Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

However, unlike the different betas, it doesn’t run on Windows 2000.

Therefore, some of the key differences from the beta versions are improved detection, redesigned user interface, and delivery of definition updates.

To know more, you can also read our posts on Microsoft 365, Microsoft Cortana, and Microsoft Dynamics.


Microsoft Defender helps to automatically detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to different types of attacks that will affect your computer. 

Additionally, with a solution such as this one, security professionals can stitch together the threat signals and determine the full scope and impact of the threat.

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Cara Suppa

Cara Suppa has been freelance writing for over a decade and holds a BA in English and an MS in Integrated Marketing Communications. Outside of work, she is an avid cook, gardener, and discount shopper.

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