Microsoft Defender, the The company’s security app, is now available to anyone who subscribes to Microsoft 365, the online productivity suite that includes Word, Excel, and more. Unlike the previously released Microsoft Defender software built exclusively into Windows computers, this version is available on Windows† android† macOSand iOS devices.
Windows computer owners without Microsoft 365 needn’t sweat; Microsoft still installs software on Windows to protect against viruses and other malware. That software is now simply branded as Windows Security. Other than access to a security dashboard where all your connected devices are visible, there’s not much extra incentive for Windows owners to download the new Microsoft Defender app.
Microsoft is extending protection options to Mac and smartphone owners using Microsoft 365. However, not all devices receive the same protection. For example, on the Mac, anti-malware protection is provided by Microsoft Defender, while web protection is not.
On the other hand, iPhones and Android devices can use Microsoft Defender web protection. The web security runs a virtual private network on your smartphone in the background and tries to intervene if dangerous hyperlinks appear. Microsoft claims that your browsing history data is stored on the device and not shared with the company. Learn even more about VPNs and improving your digital privacy with WIRED senior writer and reviewer Scott Gilbertson’s guide to the best VPNs† In addition to web protection, Microsoft Defender anti-malware protection is supported for Android phones.
The new Microsoft Defender app is designed to be used specifically by consumers, such as in families and individuals. Although the names are similar, Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is a separate security suite for businesses. Microsoft has guidelines on its website to help you understand the Endpoint version and how to: switch between accounts†
If you don’t Microsoft 365 subscriber But if you want Microsoft Defender, a personal subscription costs $70 per year and a family subscription for up to six people costs $100 per year. With a subscription to Microsoft 365, you get access to OneDrive cloud storage, in addition to both online and downloadable versions of popular software such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. (Checking out This article from WIRED contributor David Nield if you’re looking for a free version of Microsoft Word.)
So who will benefit from the new Microsoft Defender? The features offered are slim at the moment and it may not be as complicated as software from Norton or McAfee, but that can be a good thing since Defender is lighter than either of these options. With that in mind, the sheer volume of devices tracked from a single dashboard can be a boon for family leaders trying to keep an eye on the entire team’s security across multiple devices.
Individual Microsoft 365 subscription subscribers can have Microsoft Defender protect five devices at once. For those on the family plan, you can shield up to 30 devices at a time. The suite sends you alerts when Grandma (again) downloads malware onto her computer or the teens click on a malicious link on their smartphones.
Looking for even more strategies to improve your digital security? WIRED has helpful advice on everything from: password to protect your files until keep those spicy photos private† You wouldn’t leave your front door locked while you run errands, and with so much of our life experienced online, taking protective measures on your computer and smartphone makes just as much sense.