Windows Defender is the built-in antivirus and anti malware solution for Windows 10, but its role in defending the operating system from virus and malware attacks is generally under appreciated. Delivered together with the built-in firewall for the operating system, Windows Defender together with Windows Firewall provides staunch defence of an individual’s computer against a wide range of attacks except for the most sophisticated ones by high end hackers.
With the recent Creators update to Windows 10, there are also significant improvements and upgrades in performance and capabilities of Windows Defender. Renamed as Windows Defender Security Center with an upgraded user interface combined with additional functions and features, the trusted antivirus solution is endowed with critical and needed new functions to provide a broader scope of coverage against more types of threats.
Specifically, a new feature enables the simultaneous operation of Windows Defender together with a third party antivirus solution without the inactivation of the Windows Firewall, which is critical for broad protection of the operating system unavailable in some antivirus programs. First introduced into Windows XP Service Pack 3 update in 2006, Windows Firewall provides comprehensive protection of the core kernel and application layer of Windows. Augmented with new features and having underwent incremental evolution over the years in sync with technological development and the evolving threat environment, Windows Firewall is a good all round defender of access to the operating system. Additionally, network protection is also enhanced with new features providing coverage for both public and private networks, where differentiated protection enables a low system footprint for a home network relative to a public one.
One extremely useful feature is the provision of Windows Defender to provide periodic scanning for threats on the computer even if the primary antivirus solution is that from a third party provider. In general, Windows Defender is a good addon for a computer’s overall defense against increasingly complicated and sophisticated attacks emanating from the Web, as well as direct access by hackers through connecting to the wrong WiFi router or public hotspot.
What is perhaps a strong selling point for Windows Defender Security Center is its integration with Microsoft Edge browser, the completely revamped web browser from Microsoft that promises to be faster and more efficient in retrieving web information while providing a higher level of security. This protection comes from the Windows Smartscreen technology, which covers both apps and web-based content. Specifically, this is a web-based screening technology for identifying the authenticity of software and apps from the Windows Store as well as preventing websites with malicious content and software (such as rootkits) from loading.
Finally, availability of real-time protection for the computer as well as connection to a cloud-based server system for protecting against highly sophisticated and coordinated Internet-based attacks, Windows Defender has improved several notches in capabilities since its first incarnation as a good but non-sophisticated antivirus solution for Windows. With daily updates in virus definitions and a highly capable firewall able to provide comprehensive protection to the underlying operating system against most threats apart from targeted hacking, Windows Defender Security Center has reached a level of sophistication equivalent to the offerings from major antivirus software vendors. Additionally, ability to easily submit virus samples allow users to contribute to worldwide defense of the open Internet from hacking and malware attacks. While more sophisticated than previous versions of Windows Defender, the Windows Defender Security Center still lacks in ability to defend against wireless attacks, powerline attacks, and other sophisticated malware tools that masquerades as benign and innocuous software. Hence, the in-built Windows Defender Security Center together with the Windows Firewall is one good option for average consumers to defend their computers. Besides traditional antivirus roles, Windows Defender Security Center also serves as a central point for coordinating the update status of the operating system, as well as monitoring the health status of the computer.
Category: computer security,
Tags: Windows Defender, antivirus software, firewall, web-based attacks, cloud-based protection, malware, WiFi routers,
Acknowledgement: Ng Wenfa thank Seah Kwi Shan for co-authoring this blog post.