Microsoft Defender vs CrowdStrike: Compare EDR software – TechRepublic

Microsoft Defender and CrowdStrike provide robust endpoint protection software, but one of them comes out consistently superior. See how the features of these EDR tools compare.

Cybersecurity EDR tools comparison.
Image: Adobe Stock/Michael Traitov

In user tests of endpoint detection and response tools, CrowdStrike is generally considered to be easier to use and deploy than Microsoft Defender for Endpoint; however, Microsoft Defender is easily integrated into an existing Microsoft technology stack. Let’s look at which endpoint protection suite works best for which businesses.

What is Microsoft Defender for Endpoint?

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is a collection of endpoint visibility and security tools. It includes phishing protection, malware protection, URL filtering, machine learning algorithms and other advanced utilities. Not only does Microsoft Defender fold neatly into the already existing Microsoft technology stack, but it provides best-in-class security alerting and attack mitigation.

What is CrowdStrike?

CrowdStrike is an endpoint protection suite designed to protect endpoints and networks from critical vulnerabilities and attacks, including phishing scams, ransomware, remote access attacks and DDoS attacks. With features such as application whitelisting, two-factor authentication and intrusion detection, CrowdStrike can help keep enterprise-level networks secure.

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Microsoft Defender vs. CrowdStrike: Feature comparison

Head-to-head comparison: Microsoft Defender vs. CrowdStrike

Microsoft ecosystem integration

Microsoft Defender integrates with other Microsoft products like Active Directory and Exchange Server, giving IT administrators a unified view of their security posture. As with many Microsoft products, a major advantage to Microsoft Defender is that you can create a complete, holistic ecosystem — every Microsoft product integrates well with every other Microsoft product.

Meanwhile, CrowdStrike integrates with popular third-party solutions like Splunk and Palo Alto Networks. If your organization isn’t already operating from within a Microsoft ecosystem, CrowdStrike’s lack of native Microsoft integration will not be an issue.

Ease of use, installation and deployment

Microsoft Defender has a straightforward interface that is easy to use and navigate. All the features are clearly labeled and easy to find. For organizations operating in a Microsoft ecosystem, Microsoft Defender will likely be considered extremely intuitive.

CrowdStrike’s interface is also easy to use and navigate. In fact, many users find that CrowdStrike is easier to both use and deploy than Microsoft Defender, in part due to its excellent technical support. For those who are outside of a Microsoft ecosystem, CrowdStrike is likely to be more intuitive.

Attack detection and mitigation

Microsoft Defender has solid detection rates for known attacks and good detection rates for unknown attacks through behavioral algorithms. Once attacks have been detected, Microsoft Endpoint will react to stop them.

CrowdStrike offers excellent detection rates for both known and unknown attacks. However, CrowdStrike only provides alerts for these attacks: They must be mitigated separately. Thus, CrowdStrike is more likely to notice an attack, but this attack still has to be separately mitigated.

Behavioral AI and machine learning algorithms

Microsoft Defender uses machine learning and behavioral AI to detect and block threats. Machine learning systems take sample data and identify patterns that match, such as identifying suspicious behaviors by malicious attackers. Today, most advanced security systems must include some level of behavioral AI and machine learning algorithms, as threats are dramatically changing from hour to hour.

CrowdStrike also uses machine learning and behavioral AI to detect threats, but its machine learning isn’t as advanced. CrowdStrike consequently has a higher false-positive rate, although this can also help administrators remain vigilant to potential threats that may reside within a gray area.

Single-agent design

Microsoft Defender has a single-agent design that simplifies deployment and management. Microsoft’s single-agent design will be faster and easier to deploy, but may not provide the complexity that an enterprise needs in the future.

CrowdStrike has a multi-agent design that can be more complex to deploy and manage but provides more flexibility. Organizations with a multitude of endpoints to secure, or with unique security needs, may find this multi-agent design to have greater utility.

Choosing between Microsoft Defender and CrowdStrike

Both Microsoft Defender and CrowdStrike are feature-complete endpoint security solutions. In general, CrowdStrike gets higher marks than Microsoft Defender in almost every arena — but it can only provide alerts regarding potential intrusions, whereas Microsoft Defender can take action.

Use Microsoft Defender if:

  • You want an endpoint solution that is easy to use and deploy.
  • You have a Microsoft-centered environment.
  • You want your system to mitigate its own threats.

Use CrowdStrike if:

  • You want an endpoint solution with more advanced features.
  • You are looking primarily for ease-of-use and ease of deployment.
  • You don’t have a Microsoft-heavy technology stack.
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