Virus protection – is Defender enough for Windows 10?

Anyone who uses Windows 10 also automatically has Defender installed as an antivirus program. But is the program sufficient? According to experts, the protection is good – but also somewhat incomplete.

The amount of time spent online is constantly increasing, and more and more things in everyday life are being done via devices that are networked with the Internet. This also increases the risk of malicious software landing on the computer via e-mail or other means. A reliable antivirus program is therefore extremely important. Microsoft offers Defender for Windows 10 ex works.

Malware causes high damage every year

By the end of June 2021 alone, the AV-TEST Institute, a research institute for IT security based in Magdeburg, registered 1242 million pieces of malware, with around 350,000 new malware programs added every day. The “quality” of spam mails, for example, is becoming increasingly professional.

“If cyber criminals hijack an entire computer, they can also take control of the mail system. Then you can often only recognize unwanted mails by incorrect wording,” explains Andreas Marx from AV-TEST. Overall, the number of malware programs has leveled off at a high level, but at the same time the number of extortion attacks is on the rise.

Windows Defender: Good protection, but few extras

Antivirus programs are supposed to offer protection against Trojans, spyware and other threats from the Internet. Those who use the Windows 10 operating system automatically have Windows Defender on board. However, it has a reputation for not offering the best security. Jan Schüßler from c’t says that this is not true: “Windows Defender has become better and better over the years, and its level of protection is certainly on a par with other antivirus programs such as Norton or Kaspersky. In comparison with other applications, it should also be noted that Defender costs nothing extra, he said.

Computer BILD also attests to Defender’s good protection in the comparison test, but still sees room for improvement. “Microsoft’s included protection cannot completely keep up, because there are only a few extras. In addition, the settings are very hidden, which is why the program is not recommended for laymen,” says Andy Voß from Computer BILD. For example, Windows Defender does not offer a VPN function, which is required for anonymous surfing.

Additional features like a vulnerability scanner and an update checker are also not available. A password manager is also not part of the scope of services. In addition, Windows Defender does not protect against spam emails. “Overall, Defender offers good, but rather rudimentary protection, because it only fends off malware such as viruses,” says Marx.

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Strong distribution attracts attackers

The widespread use of Microsoft Defender could also lead to an increase in the number of targeted hacker attacks. “The more users use it, the more interesting it becomes for attacks,” says Schüßler. Because of the limited protection screen, AV-Test advises installing a more comprehensive antivirus package from another manufacturer. “This may cost three to five euros per month, but it offers very good all-round protection,” says Marx.

“There is, of course, the option to do this with programs from different manufacturers. But since almost all manufacturers offer protection packages with licenses for different devices, it pays off, especially financially, to rely on one provider here,” says Voß. Extending the protection of Windows Defender with a second antivirus program does not work. “If you install another protection program, Windows Defender automatically deactivates itself,” explains Voß. At the same time, however, Defender also automatically steps in if, for example, the license of the other antivirus program has expired.

Use Windows Defender as a supplement

However, it is possible to supplement another protection program with Defender. According to Schüßler, this would also not result in any performance restrictions. “There is then, for example, the option of having the newly installed antivirus program perform the live scan and using Defender to check certain folders,” says Schüßler. As for being up-to-date, users have good protection with both Windows Defender and all other antivirus programs.