Windows Defender is an antivirus program that comes built-in with Microsoft Windows 10. As it provides right out of the gate antivirus defenses after installation, it indeed is a convenient tool. But many people keep wondering (and rightly so) if Windows Defender is good enough? This post uncovers precisely that.
Cyber threats have been on the rise lately. Individuals/organizations regularly lose their information through computer-related attacks. Some of the attacks could cause the documents to get corrupt, others may make them completely missing and cause system malfunction. In some instances, the documents would be encrypted with ransomware.
Whether you have experienced any of this or not, it is important to protect your devices with antivirus applications. Anti Virus programs can shield your documents and entire system from hackers. They can help protect your privacy, protect your systems against ransom wares, and generally maintain integrity.
Microsoft understands the threat posed by viruses. That’s why the organization ensures that every Windows system has Windows Defender pre-installed in it. The application delivers real-time security protection against ongoing threats such as spyware, malware, viruses, and lots more.
However, in the past, Defender has not lived up to its name.
Most people would usually uninstall it and install other third-party antivirus programs due to its low-level threat detection. We will get to that part later in the article, but let’s cover some basics below first.
What are viruses
A computer virus is an unwanted program that finds its way into a host system without the knowledge of the user.
Some of the viruses replicate and spread when they gain access to a system. Computer viruses are designed to perform malicious and unwanted actions on the target machine. Upon successful installation, they would ultimately affect the performance of the system, delete data, corrupt / encrypt files.
An antivirus program such as Windows Defender is used in fighting the activities of a virus program on the system. It recognizes, delete, halts, and removes viruses from the system.
Good antivirus programs would eliminate virus application or disable them so that they don’t keep on infecting the system and cause more damage. A computer without an antivirus is unprotected and open to malicious activities.
Such unprotected systems would let any virus enter that comes its way. Fortunately, Windows comes pre-installed with Windows Defender that can secure PCs from threats. And over the years, Defender has evolved to become one of the best antivirus and anti-spyware applications.
What damage can a virus do to a PC?
When a computer becomes infected with a virus, the following can happen to the host PC:
- Delete the system files
- Corrupt files
- Destroy operating system files
- Cause program malfunction
- Encrypt files for ransom
- Reformat the system
- Lock the system and render it unusable etc
Is your PC better off without an antivirus?
A PC without an antivirus is vulnerable to cyber-attacks, and a virus can inflict severe damage on your computer and can also destroy your reputation. When your PC gets attacked, you can lose your files, your system may get formatted, crash beyond repairs, and you can be held for ransom and so on.
Not having a protective mechanism in the form of antivirus is like providing a clear pathway for hackers to gain access to your PC. If you don’t want any damage to your system and files, then you must install an antivirus or enable Microsoft’s Defender on your PC.
What is Windows Defender?
It comes pre-installed on Microsoft Windows 10 at no extra cost for users. Here are the perceived benefits of free Microsoft antivirus and antimalware program:
- Protects your system and ensures that you are not a victim of cyber crimes such as identity theft
- Ensures that the data on your computers do not get corrupted
- Its speeds up your computer
- Windows Defender protects your shared networks against Trojan Horses.
- Protect your cloud infrastructure.
- Saves you time, money, and reputation
- Ensures data compliance
Having an antivirus program installed on your PC is extremely important; however, the question remains, is Windows Defender good enough in 2020?
Hackers and viruses are getting more sophisticated as the days go by, and individuals/organizations need to protect their devices at the very best.
It means they must deploy tools and technologies that can limit virus attacks, which can lead to reputational damage, business disruptions, and data losses. Cybercrimes are getting more frequent, and it has been reported that more time and money is required to resolve a virus or hack issue in 2020.
Cybercrimes are rapidly evolving. Fortunately, Windows Defender now can keep up with the rapidly advancing threats. It is a result of the significant investment Microsoft has made to the advancement of the Defender.
Individuals and organizations face an increasing landscape, which includes information threats, supply chain attacks, ransom, and so on. These cybercriminals are deploying new and sophisticated technologies much faster than a lot of antivirus programs. However, this is no longer the case with Microsoft’s Defender.
Early years of Microsoft Windows Defender
Windows Defender has existed since 2006, but its beginning was far from successful.
Independent testing organizations verified that the protection technology developed by Microsoft trailed behind other top virus applications. It had a low detection rate and exposed users’ PC to a lot of threats.
Despite the tremendous investment of Microsoft in ensuring that the technology comes to speed, it still trailed behind other major virus applications for many years.
In the early years, PCs running on Windows were reported to crash, especially when you run an update. This crash was due to some of the flaws that come with the Windows operating system.
Microsoft Windows update has been known to break Windows Defender, which would cause your system to be vulnerable. As a result, most people do not rely on the Defender for virus security and system protection. Many who cannot afford premium solutions have turned to free third-party firewalls and antivirus programs.
Some circumstances can cause Windows Defender to crash while running a full system scan. This would lead to errors that can be seen in windows security and the PC’s systems event viewer.
Why the crash?
System crash as a result of using Windows Defender to run a full system scan is tied to some files that come with double dots in their file names.
Examples are Thisisnuts..Doc, which is very similar to the Y2K Bug. Windows attributed this issue to the Windows Defender intelligence virus definition that came built-in with older updates.
In some instances, tech-savvy people can fix this on their own by going to the service manager to stop it. However, your system can be compromised almost immediately before the issue gets resolved. Also, less tech-savvy people are not able to fix this issue, which led to system compromise.
Windows Defender in 2020
As stated earlier, in the past, most experts would advise you not to rely on MS Windows built-in antivirus due to its unreliability.
However, that is no longer the case in 2020.
Before now, Windows users would usually deactivate Windows Defender and install other third-party antivirus programs. Things have significantly turned around.
In 2020, Defender has been voted one of the best antivirus applications. An independent testing lab, AV-Test, carried out voting in May-June 2020. Windows Defender got a 6.0/6 score in the AV-Test report, which is quite incredible.
AV-Test also ranked Windows 10 built-in antivirus in the top three for best antivirus programs, but the top two are premium antivirus systems and are paid ones while Windows Defender is free.
Currently, it provides a good level of protection from all types of computer-related viruses. It provides anti-ransomware protection, comes with parental control features to keep kids safe online, has a vault, protects cloud infrastructure, and maintains data integrity and so much more.
Some people still doubt the efficiency of Microsoft’s Defender due to its reputational hangover. People seem to have a perception that Microsoft defender is still unreliable as it used to be in the past.
However, some have realized its potential, and lately, its usage and perception have dramatically improved. Microsoft has added a lot of impressive algorithms to Windows Defender to make it more efficient and reliable.
The protection technology combines a wide range of sophisticated features and can automatically carry out automatic and in-demand scans for malicious applications. Microsoft defender also secures users’ PCs against dangerous URLs and the networks against DDoS attacks.
What are the features of Windows Defender?
Microsoft’s free antivirus program comes with advanced protection through the Microsoft Defender ATP. It incorporates artificial intelligence, machine learning, and virus threat resistance research.
Also, it secures cloud infrastructure to ensure maximum protection for PCs and networks. Microsoft Defender has been upgraded in 2020 to become next-generation system protection with the following attributes:
Real-time antivirus protection
Windows Defender carries out real-time protection against viruses and malware. It scans your system once it gets booted, and it finds malicious programs and files. It also carries out real-time monitoring for cloud systems from malware and DDoS attacks (more on it a little later).
It carries out threat detection by studying the behavior of every application and file on the PC. Windows Defender automatically detects and blocks applications that are behaving abnormally or apps that are deemed unsafe for your PC. Some of these suspicious apps cannot be detected by other malware applications.
Windows Defender comes with an update patch that can automatically scan or search for updates from Microsoft cloud servers.
Once an update is found, it automatically downloads and installs it on your local PC to ensure the latest protection capabilities. New viruses are developed, and updates are made constantly.
So, you do not need to manually search for updates with Windows defender. Once a new virus definition is found, it automatically downloads and installs to keep your system protected.
Cloud protection system
Microsoft engineers, carry out a regular study of emerging threats in the cyber world and automatically block them through windows defender. Aside from protecting individual PCs, it also protects cloud systems.
Lately, many organizations are migrating to the cloud, and cloud security is needed to help provide multilevel security and control.
Windows Defender can protect your cloud systems against DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial of service). DDoS attacks occur when a huge amount of traffic is sent to the cloud servers to slow down services or to completely shut down the processes.
Windows defender monitors and significantly reduces the chances of DDoS attacks on your cloud infrastructure. It also ensures data security, ensures flexibility, cloud system availability 27/7, and lots more.
Windows defender ensures that organizations are regulatory compliant. It helps manage system files, enhances cloud system infrastructure, and ensures data integrity, which is paramount for compliance.
Everyone wants to keep kids safe online. And they should. One of the biggest challenges for parents and guardians is being able to monitor what their kids and wards are doing on the internet.
Advancement in technology has brought about easy access to illegal and potentially harmful websites that cannot be effectively controlled without an antivirus.
A parent or guardian would not be able to easily keep an eye on what the kid is doing with their computer. However, the Windows defender is the solution to this problem.
It provides a robust monitoring tool that can enable you to control what your kids are doing. It provides activity logs in the form of reports. Windows Defender filters website when the parental control features are turned on, to protect kids.
It can also limit the time kids spend on the internet, thereby making them more productive in other areas. It has a web console where parents and guidance can monitor kids activities in real-time as well.
With parental control, you can also define when your kids can use their PC’s and devices. Windows Defender has a family option page/console, which can enable you to view what your kids are doing directly. It can be used to monitor multiple systems activities at once.
Lately, a lot of advanced spyware tools are being used to monitor an individual or organization. Windows Defender comes with a robust and sophisticated spyware technology that ensures you are not spied on. It quickly scans through all data and checks for spyware signatures.
If it finds anything suspicious, it will help the user get rid of them. Windows Defender also keeps an eye on other legitimate software and application that are attached to spyware. If you are looking for ease of use and simplicity and you don’t want unnecessary applications clustering your PC, it can play a significant role for you.
When it comes to computer resource management, no antivirus application is as efficient as Windows Defender. It uses fewer computer resources, which means the PC would have more space and processing power. Lesser resources are used because it is designed by the same company that develops the windows operating system.
Controlled folder access
This is the latest addition to the anti-malware application. It provides an additional layer of protection against ransom wares. It can be assigned to protect specific files, folders, and even some aspect of the PC RAM against untrusted applications that are trying to gain access.
You may need to reconsider your stance if you have taking Windows defender for granted because of its previous reputation. Only a few antiviruses out there offer a controlled folder access feature.
Ease of setup
You don’t need to be tech-savvy to set up Windows Defender, which is one of its most vital points of the application. It comes fully integrated with your windows operating system; therefore, you need not download, install, or set up anything. As soon as you install Windows, it starts protecting your system automatically, which is different from other antivirus applications.
However, if you need to change Windows Defender settings, you can still do that very easily. The steps are basic enough, and you can quickly change whatever you want without needing to go through the documentation. With it, you can securely carry out a full system scan, custom scan, or offline scan with just a click.
Flexible status check
You can easily check the status of your Windows Defender through the icon at the status bar. When you click on it, you would be able to view your current Defender status, see the functions of the firewall, and adjust notification rules. You can also restore the firewall to the default state, troubleshoot your internet network, allow specific apps through the firewall, and so much more.
App and browser control
Windows Defender comes with browser and app control features that can let you keep full command on crucial functionalities. It has a state of the art Windows Smart screen that you can easily configure to warn, block, or ignore specific files and applications. Windows defender also uses the latest technologies such as ASLR, DEP SEHOP Control Flow guard, and so much more to block all the routes through which your PC can get attacked.
Microsoft Windows Defender is cost-effective, and you don’t have to pay for a monthly or yearly subscription, but you still get maximum PC security. If you are low on budget and don’t want to spend extra money on antivirus, you should consider migrating to the Windows operating system. The system will enable you to use Windows Defender for free.
Supercharge your PC
Windows defender ensures that your PC is optimized and is running as fast as possible. The consequences of a Virus attack on your PC can result to slow processing speed, system crash, data compromise, and lots more.
It ensures that the system is properly protected; the hard drive is optimized and operating with good speed. This can save you a tremendous amount of time and effort.
Windows defender serves as a computer firewall, and it monitors outgoing and incoming traffic on your PC network. It double checks every incoming and outgoing file through the network. It also checks all the sites you visit and block out a malicious website from your network.
It would ensure that you do not unintentionally download malware or access unauthorized sites. Accessing unauthorized sites can expose your system to cyber threats, which can include ransomware attacks, hackers, spyware, and lots more.
Protects your passwords
Windows Defender provides a secure login for users to ensure that their passwords are not compromised. When your passwords are compromised, hackers can use them to blackmail you, steal your funds, or gain access to other confidential information.
While its password protection feature might not be as good as some of the best password managers out there, but Windows Defender offers quality password protection for free.
Friendly user interface
Windows Defender comes with a simple / friendly user interface. With just a single click, it can purge all suspicious applications. It requires minimal user input to carry out its functions, and in most cases, no configuration is required.
Lately, Microsoft has significantly invested in Windows Defender, and this has ensured greater efficiency. Research carried out by independent labs in 2019 attested that it successfully blocked 99.9% of the known malware programs around the world.
As per the 2020 tests, Windows Defender successfully blocked 100% of all brand new threats, which is higher than the detection rate of other major antivirus applications.
In essence, Windows Defender is good enough for your PC in 2020; however, this was not the case before now.
Previously the antivirus program was not sophisticated enough to handle modern threats. It also used to crash a lot during updates, which has, unfortunately, giving it a bad reputation even in 2020. However, Windows Defender currently provides robust protection for systems against malware programs, which has been proved in a lot of independent testing.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with using Microsoft Defender as your choice of system protection in 2020. It comes pre-installed with windows without additional charges. Moreover, it is convenient for use, especially for less tech-savvy people who may not understand how to configure other premium antivirus applications for optimum results.
Having an antivirus program like Windows Defender installed on your PC is a no brainer. It can save you a lot of reputational damage alongside money while helping you keep your data private. The importance of Defender is apparent, and no matter the level of threat, it can keep you secured. If you are looking for a top-notch antivirus application and simplicity is also your concern, then Windows Defender is the answer.
In the end, it, of course, is not the only top free antivirus programs out there. For your antivirus AB testing, we recommend you not to settle on Windows Defender only. Instead, try out some other alternatives like Kaspersky and Bitdefender, too. The best part is it won’t require much work from your side to test another antivirus app.
Images via Pixabay.