Microsoft's standalone Defender for Business hits GA

Security suite for the orgs unwilling to stump up for a Microsoft 365 Business Premium subscription


Microsoft has made a standalone version of Microsoft Defender for Business generally available, aimed at customers not keen on paying for one of its subscriptions.

The product is already bundled with Microsoft 365 Business Premium (for businesses with up to 300 employees) but can now be picked up as a standalone product for $3 per user per month, as we reported from Ignite late last year.

Microsoft currently has four tiers of 365 subscriptions, starting at Business Basic (which includes the web versions of the company's productivity apps) for $6, going up to the full-fat premium version for $22 per user per month, with desktop versions of Office apps.

"Microsoft believes in security for all," said Vasu Jakkal, CVP for security, compliance & identity at Microsoft.

However, rather than simply bundle Defender in with all tiers, the company would like to charge $3 per user per month for peace of mind (unless thrat user is a Premium subscriber).

Still, for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) it could be an interesting option, particularly where no solution is yet in place (or is based on aging antivirus software). So long as they're using Windows, onboarding a Windows device is a simple matter of running a wizard. Android, macOS, and iOS simplification "is on the roadmap."

Once up and running, SMBs get "enterprise-grade" endpoint security, according to Microsoft. This means threat identification and vulnerability management, options to reduce the surface area for attack as well as response and remediation options.

Built-in policies should mean the effort involved in getting the system up and running is minimized for organizations unlikely able to spare dedicated human resources for the purposes of cybersecurity.

"With automated investigation and remediation, we do the type of work handled by a dedicated Security Operations (SecOps) team by continuously detecting and automatically remediating most threats," said Microsoft.

Which is all well and good. However, rather than simply add the service to its existing line-up, Microsoft wants customers to sign up for what it calls "affordable access."

And $3 per user per month does seem a relatively small price – until one considers the annual cost over an organization. It does not cover servers, which Microsoft said "will be coming later this year with an add-on solution."

Microsoft Defender for Business is by no means the only game in town when it comes to protecting SMBs. While a standalone incarnation for customers unwilling or unable to sign up for Microsoft 365 Business Premium is a useful thing, a bit of shopping around would be prudent. ®


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