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Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks vs Microsoft Defender for Endpoint comparison

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Comparison Summary
Question: How is Cortex XDR compared with Microsoft Defender?
Answer: Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is a cloud-delivered endpoint security solution. The tool reduces the attack surface, applies behavioral-based endpoint protection and response, and includes risk-based vulnerability management. We liked that Defender was configured on all computers that connected to the network. This helped us to protect all the computers without having to install them on each one of them. The centralized management was the best feature. It was great at proactively monitoring threats. It was a bit inconvenient when the software did system scans on a client during business hours, at random. It was also difficult to run the SmartScreen feature and trying to install other software. We also found that it is impossible to delete a computer manually. Palo Alto Cortex XDR is a solution for detection and response, integrating network, endpoint, and cloud data to prevent advanced threats. Cortex XDR uses behavioral analytics to detect threats and discover the root cause. It provides endpoint protection by blocking malware, exploits, and fileless attacks. We were using Microsoft Defender but switched to Cortex because of the visibility it provides, with a complete picture of each attack that allows us to respond faster to alerts. We found it provides a wider range of scenarios, working on every device that can connect with the Internet. However, Cortex could improve the context it gives to behavior-based alerts. We would also like to see an easier integration with Mac. Conclusions Microsoft Defender is best suited for Windows-based networks. It is currently difficult to implement and integrate with other environments, like Mac. While its centralized management is a good feature, it lacks flexibility. Cortex is easier to use, and the interface is more intuitive. It suited us most because of the flexibility of integration, and it excels in its prevention abilities.
Featured Review
Find out what your peers are saying about Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks vs. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint and other solutions. Updated: January 2022.
564,143 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
Pros
"Any alert that we get is an actionable alert. Immediately, there is information that we can just click through, see the point in time, what happened, what caused it, and what automatic actions were taken. We can then choose to take any manual actions, if we want, or start our investigation. We're no longer looking at digging into information or wading through hundreds of incidents. There's a list which says where the status is assigned, e.g., under investigation or investigation finished. That is all in the console. It has taken away a lot of the administration, which we would normally be doing, and integrated it into the console for us.""The solution makes it possible to see a threat once and block it everywhere across all endpoints and the entire security platform. It has the ability to block right down to the file and application level across all devices based on policies, such as, blacklisting and whitelisting of software and applications. This is good. Its strength is the ability to identify threats very quickly, then lock them and the network down and block the threats across the organization and all devices, which is what you want. You don't want to be spending time working out how to block something. You want to block something very quickly, letting that flow through to all the devices and avoiding the same scenario on different operating systems.""If somebody has been compromised, the question always is: How has it affected other devices in the network? Cisco AMP gives you a very neat view of that.""Integration is a key selling factor for Cisco security products. We have a Cisco Enterprise Agreement with access to Cisco Email Security, Cisco Firepower, Cisco Stealthwatch, Cisco Talos, Cisco Threat Grid, Cisco Umbrella, and also third-party solutions. This is key to our security and maximizing operations. Because we do have the Email Security appliance and it is integrated with Threat Response, we have everything tied together. Additionally, we are using the Cisco SecureX platform, as we were a beta test for that new solution. With SecureX, we are able to pull all those applications into one pane for visibility and maintenance. This greatly maximizes our security operations.""The threat Grid with the ability to observe the sandboxing, analyze, and perform investigations of different malicious files has been great.""The most valuable feature is signature-based malware detection.""The visibility and insight this solution gives you into threats is pretty granular. It has constant monitoring. You can get onto the device trajectory to look at a threat, but you can also see what happened prior to the threat. You can see what happened after the threat. You can see what other applications were incorporated into the execution of the threat. For example, you have the event, but you see that the event was launched by Google Chrome, which was launched by something else. Then, after the event, something else was launched by whatever the threat was. Therefore, it gives you great detail, a timeline, and continuity of events leading up to whatever the incident is, and then, after. This helps you understand and nail down what the threat is and how to fix it.""The solution's integration capabilities are excellent. It's one of the best features."

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"The ability to kind of stitch everything together and see the actual complete picture is very useful. I guess you'd call it a playbook. Some people call it the forensics analysis of what was happening on particular endpoints when they detected some malicious behavior, and what transpired before that to cause that. It is also very user friendly. The way they have done everything and integrated all the solutions that they've purchased over the years to make it a very seamless, effective product is very good. One thing about Palo Alto is that they take the products or services that they purchase and make them seamless for the end user as compared to some companies that purchase other companies and then just kind of have their products off to the side or keep different interfaces. Palo Alto doesn't do that.""The information the dashboard provides is very clear.""They have a new GUI which is just fantastic.""The interface is easy to use and it is more up to date than our previous solution.""I like the centralized console and the predictive analysis it does of malware. It is very stable and also scalable.""The most valuable feature is that you can select remote access of any machine for sandboxing.""The solution doesn't need a high level of technical training.""Cortex XDR can integrate the firewalls and determine the tendencies of the attacks. It's a new generation antivirus, with protection endpoints and detection response. It is very easy to use and everybody can operate the solution."

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"The primary advantage is that you don't need to install it. It's included in the Windows 10 delivery.""I like the fact that it has the ransomware solution in there. I'm glad that the ransomware solution is built into it. That's probably the biggest thing that I see in Microsoft Defender.""The most valuable features are that it is flexible, and it is integrated with Microsoft products.""It is stable and very easy to use.""It captures data through machine learning, which is built-in on the back-end. It also provides built-in analytics and a threat intelligence feature. It is a one-stop solution that doesn't require an antivirus because it comes prebuilt into Windows 10.""The best part is that it is built into Windows, whether it is a server base or a desktop base, which gives more control over the operating system. Because Defender, the operating system, and the Office solution are by Microsoft, everything is working like hand-in-glove. Its administrative overhead is less because a desktop user has already got some experience of how to handle a Microsoft Defender notification or administer it.""The features I have found most valuable are the ransomware and malware protection. The solution detects malware live and whenever it detects suspicious activity, it quarantines it.""Defender has very little impact on the end-user and the agent works quite well with a minimal impact on the client and server."

More Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Pros →

Cons
"The room for improvement would be on event notifications. I have mine tuned fairly well. I do feel that if you subscribe to all the event notification types out-of-the-box, or don't really go through and take the time to filter out events, the notifications can become overwhelming with information. Sometimes, when you're overwhelmed with information, you just say, "I'm not going to look at anything because I'm receiving so much." I recommend the vendor come up with a white paper on the best practices for event notifications.""I would recommend that the solution offer more availability in terms of the product portfolio and integration with third-party products.""In Orbital, there are tons of prebuilt queries, but there is not a lot of information in lay terms. There isn't enough information to help us with what we're looking for and why we are looking for it with this query. There are probably a dozen queries in there that really focus on what I need to focus on, but they are not always easy to find the first time through.""The thing I hate the most, which they have not fixed, is when it creates duplicate entries within a console. If you have a computer and you upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10, or you upgrade your agent from version 6 to 7, it creates a new instance in there instead of updating the information. Instead of paying a license for one computer, I have to license two computers until I manually go in, search for all the duplicate entries, and clean them out myself.""Maybe there is room for improvement in some of the automated remediation. We have other tools in place that AMP feeds into that allow for that to happen, so I look at it as one seamless solution. But if you're buying AMP all by itself, I don't know if it can remove malicious software after the fact or if it requires the other tools that we use to do some of that.""We have had some problems with updates not playing nice with our environment. This is important, because if there is a new version, we need to test it thoroughly before it goes into production. We cannot just say, "There's a new version. It's not going to give us any problems." With the complexity of the solution using multiple engines for multiple tasks, it can sometimes cause performance issues on our endpoints. Therefore, we need to test it before we deploy. That takes one to three days before we can be certain that the new version plays nice with our environment.""The GUI needs improvement, it's not good.""The one challenge that I see is the use of multiple endpoint protection platforms. For instance, we have AMP, but we also have Microsoft Windows Defender, System Center Endpoint Protection, and Microsoft Malware Protection Engine deployed. So, we have a bunch of different things that do the same thing. What winds up happening is, e.g., if I get an alert for a potential incident or malware and want to pull the file, I'll go to fetch the file to analyze it. But, one of these other programs has already gotten it, so the file has already been quarantined by another endpoint protection system. AMP doesn't realize that and the file fetch fails, then you're left wondering what's going on."

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"It is not easy to sell Cortex XDR, not because it isn't a good tool. Its marketing needs to be improved.""In reporting they should have a customizable dashboard due to the fact that C-level people don't like reporting to the IT department. They prefer to have a real-time dashboard. That kind of dashboard needs to have various customizations.""The solution can never really be an on-premises solution based simply on the way it is set up. It needs metadata to run and improve. Having an on-premises solution would cut it off from making improvements.""Data privacy is a matter of concern. You have to be careful with data privacy, it can be sensitive and Cortex can have most of your access.""Impact on system performance is horrible, adding a lot of delays for users.""Cortex XDR is trickier to configure than other Palo Alto products. This is one area where we are not so satisfied.""It is not very strong in terms of endpoint management. It should have additional features like DLP, encryption, or advanced device control. Currently, Cortex is good in terms of the security of the endpoints, but it is not as good as other vendors in terms of the management of the endpoint.""I would like to see better protection, specifically to protect email applications."

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"The initial setup can be a bit complex.""We encountered some misbehavior between Microsoft Office Suite and Defender. We had issues of old macros being blocked and some stuff going around the usage of Win32 APIs. There is some improvement between the Office products and Defender, and there is a bunch of stuff that you can configure in your antivirus solutions, but you have several baselines, such as security baselines for Edge, security baselines for Defender, and security baselines for MDM. You have configuration profiles as well. So, there a lot of parts where we can configure our antivirus solution, and we're getting conflicting configurations. This is the major part with which we're struggling in this solution. We are having calls and calls with Microsoft for getting rid of all configuration conflicts that we have. That's really the part that needs to be improved.""Its interface can be improved a little bit. We would like to have some sort of centralization. It should have something like a central server that is managing all the other clients. There are solutions from Kaspersky or ESET NOD32 that are really doing this kind of thing currently. We would like to see something similar from Microsoft.""Auto recovery is the most important feature that we would need from this solution. For decryption, similar to Malwarebytes, there should be something to be able to recover the data up to the last normal status. Its ability to recover data to the last normal copy must not exceed 5 to 10 minutes.""The detection of viruses could be a little bit better.""From an audit point of view, our auditors would like to have more reports on how things are used, if things go wrong, and how they went wrong. For example, if something got a warning, "Why?" So, we would like more versatility for tracing and reporting. That would improve the product, as long as the user interface doesn't get bogged down.""The pricing could be a bit better.""Windows Firewall is integrated with Windows Defender. Over the last few days, I have had a problem with defining a wildcard on Windows Firewall. For example, I wanted to pull out the connection of my program and install a software package with a lot of executable files. I wanted to prevent it from accessing the internet. I could not select executables by using a wildcard. I had to select a single executable with its full name."

More Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Cons →

Pricing and Cost Advice
  • "The visibility that we have into the endpoint and the forensics that we're able to collect give us value for the price. This is not an overly expensive solution, considering all the things that are provided. You get great performance and value for the cost."
  • "Whenever you are doing the licensing process, I would highly advise to look at what other Cisco solutions you have in your organization, then evaluate if an Enterprise Agreement is the best way to go. In our case, it was the best way to go. Since we had so many other Cisco products, we were able to tie those in. We were actually able to get several Cisco security solutions for less than if we had bought three or four Cisco security solutions independently or ad hoc."
  • "In our case, it is a straightforward annual payment through our Enterprise Agreement."
  • "Our company was very happy with the price of Cisco AMP. It was about a third of what we were paying for System Center Endpoint Protection."
  • "There are a couple of different consumption models: Pay up front, or if you have an enterprise agreement, you can do a monthly thing. Check your licensing possibilities and see what's best for your organization."
  • "The Enterprise Agreement is like an all-you-can-eat buffet of Cisco products. In that vein, it was very affordable."
  • "We can know if something bad is potentially happening instantaneously and prevent it from happening. We can go to a device and isolate it before it infects other devices. In our environment, that's millions of dollars saved in a matter of seconds."
  • "The pricing and licensing are reasonable. The cost of AMP for Endpoints is inline with all the other software that has a monthly endpoint cost. It might be a little bit higher than other antivirus type products, but we're only talking about a dollar a month per user. I don't see that cost as being an issue if it's going to give us the confidence and security that we're looking for. We have had a lot of success and happiness with what we're using, so there's no point in changing."
  • More Cisco Secure Endpoint Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "The pricing is a little high. It is per user per year."
  • "We pay about $50,000 USD per year for a bundle that includes Cortex XDR."
  • "This is an expensive solution."
  • "Its pricing is kind of in line with its competitors and everybody else out there."
  • "Every customer has to pay for a license because it doesn't work with what you get from a managed services provider."
  • "The pricing is okay, although direct support can be expensive."
  • "Our customers have expressed that the price is high."
  • "It's about $55 per license on a yearly basis."
  • More Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "The product is free of charge and comes integrated into Windows."
  • "The solution is free."
  • "This product is included in the pricing for Windows."
  • "If you don't purchase the advanced threat protection then there is no additional charge."
  • "It is affordable and comes in the Office 365 bundle."
  • "Microsoft Defender ATP is expensive."
  • "I pay for it through the Windows Professional or Standard license. It is a one-time cost for me, and I use the same license."
  • "When compared with other vendors, the pricing is very high."
  • More Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Pricing and Cost Advice →

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    Questions from the Community
    Top Answer: 
    The most valuable feature is signature-based malware detection.
    Top Answer: 
    Licensing fees are on a yearly basis and I am happy with the pricing.
    Top Answer: 
    The GUI needs improvement, it's not good. There are false positives in emails. At times, the emails are blocked and… more »
    Top Answer: 
    Cortex XDR by Palo Alto vs. SentinelOne SentinelOne offers very detailed specifics with regard to risks or attacks.… more »
    Top Answer: 
    Cortex XDR by Palo Alto vs. CrowdStrike Falcon Both Cortex XDR and Crowd Strike Falcon offer cloud-based solutions… more »
    Top Answer: 
    Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is a cloud-delivered endpoint security solution. The tool reduces the attack surface… more »
    Top Answer: 
    We use Symantec because we do not use MS Enterprise products, but in my opinion, Microsoft Defender is a superior… more »
    Top Answer: 
    The CrowdStrike solution delivers a lot of information about incidents. It has a very light sensor that will never push… more »
    Top Answer: 
    It captures data through machine learning, which is built-in on the back-end. It also provides built-in analytics and a… more »
    Comparisons
    Also Known As
    Cisco AMP for Endpoints
    Cyvera, Cortex XDR, Palo Alto Networks Traps
    Microsoft Defender ATP, Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection, MS Defender for Endpoint, Microsoft Defender Antivirus
    Learn More
    Overview

    Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) is subscription-based, managed through a web-based management console, and deployed on a variety of platforms that protects endpoints, network, email and web Traffic. AMP key features include the following: Global threat intelligence to proactively defend against known and emerging threats, Advanced sandboxing that performs automated static and dynamic analysis of files against more than 700 behavioral indicators, Point-in-time malware detection and blocking in real time and Continuous analysis and retrospective security regardless of the file's disposition and Continuous analysis and retrospective security.

    Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks is the first threat detection and response software to combine both visibility across all types of data as well as autonomous machine learning analytics. Threat detection very often requires analysts to divide their attention among many different data streams. This platform unifies a vast variety of data flows, which allows analysts to assess threats from a single location. Users can now maintain a level of visibility that other threat detection programs simply cannot offer. This level of transparency lends itself to both quick identification of problems that arise and the equally quick development of a potential solution.

    Cortex XDR’s machine learning works on many different levels to detect and prevent threats. It is constantly scanning for threats and vulnerabilities. The solution can scan up to 5.4 billion IP addresses in three-quarters of an hour. This allows it to spot weak points in the system and notify administrators long before hackers can take advantage of vulnerabilities. Once the Artificial Intelligence (AI) discovers an issue or an area where an issue could potentially take place the system creates a log of the information and subsequently sends an alert to system administrators. The AI takes the information that it has gathered and uses it to assign threat levels to the issues that it detects. Following this, a human analyst will be assigned to manually assess the issue and deal with it accordingly. You can set it to automatically respond to the threat by isolating the issue while analysts investigate it.

    Benefits of Cortex XDR

    Some of Cortex XDR’s benefits include:

    • The use of advanced AI analytics, behavior analytics, and custom-made detection to detect advanced threats before they occur.
    • The ability to group similar threat alerts, reducing incoming alerts by as much as 98%. This allows analysts to avoid being overwhelmed by the volume of incoming alerts.
    • The ability to investigate threats as much as 8 times faster than would be possible with other software. The machine learning, when coupled with the unified data stream that Cortex XDR collects, significantly increases the ability to more quickly discover the root cause of a threat.

    Reviews from Real Users

    Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks software stands out among its competitors for a number of reasons. Two major ones are its ability to isolate threats while enabling them to be studied and the way that the software combines all of the data that it gathers into a single, more complete picture than other solutions offer.

    PeerSpot users note the effectiveness of these features. A network designer at a computer software company wrote, “The solution has a very helpful isolation feature. If any system gets compromised, with one click I can access the system and isolate it from other networks, and then go into further forensic investigation of the current threat without compromising anything else.”

    Jeff W., Vice President/CTO at Sinnott Wolach Technology Group, noted, “The ability to kind of stitch everything together and see the actual complete picture is very useful. I guess you'd call it a playbook. Some people call it the forensics analysis of what was happening on particular endpoints when they detected some malicious behavior, and what transpired before that to cause that. It is also very user friendly.”



    Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is a complete endpoint security solution that delivers preventative protection, post-breach detection, automated investigation, and response. With Defender for Endpoint, you have: 

    Agentless, cloud powered - No additional deployment or infrastructure. No delays or update compatibility issues. Always up to date. 

    Unparalleled optics - Built on the industry’s deepest insight into Windows threats and shared signals across devices, identities, and information. 

    Automated security - Take your security to a new level by going from alert to remediation in minutes—at scale. 

    To learn more about our solution, ask questions, and share feedback, join our Microsoft Security, Compliance and Identity Community.
    Offer
    Learn more about Cisco Secure Endpoint
    Learn more about Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks
    Learn more about Microsoft Defender for Endpoint
    Sample Customers
    Heritage Bank, Mobile County Schools, NHL University, Thunder Bay Regional, Yokogawa Electric, Sam Houston State University, First Financial Bank
    CBI Health Group, University Honda, VakifBank
    Petrofrac, Metro CSG, Christus Health
    Top Industries
    REVIEWERS
    Government13%
    Healthcare Company13%
    Manufacturing Company13%
    Financial Services Firm7%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider24%
    Computer Software Company23%
    Government7%
    Financial Services Firm5%
    REVIEWERS
    Computer Software Company19%
    Financial Services Firm11%
    Consumer Goods Company11%
    Healthcare Company7%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Computer Software Company24%
    Comms Service Provider22%
    Government7%
    Energy/Utilities Company4%
    REVIEWERS
    Computer Software Company19%
    Financial Services Firm19%
    Comms Service Provider8%
    Manufacturing Company8%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider23%
    Computer Software Company23%
    Government8%
    Financial Services Firm6%
    Company Size
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business39%
    Midsize Enterprise18%
    Large Enterprise43%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business28%
    Midsize Enterprise21%
    Large Enterprise51%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business46%
    Midsize Enterprise20%
    Large Enterprise34%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business36%
    Midsize Enterprise16%
    Large Enterprise48%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business38%
    Midsize Enterprise23%
    Large Enterprise40%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business32%
    Midsize Enterprise16%
    Large Enterprise52%
    Find out what your peers are saying about Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks vs. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint and other solutions. Updated: January 2022.
    564,143 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks is ranked 5th in Endpoint Protection for Business (EPP) with 34 reviews while Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is ranked 3rd in Endpoint Protection for Business (EPP) with 84 reviews. Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks is rated 8.4, while Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is rated 8.0. The top reviewer of Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks writes "Has a centralized console and does predictive analysis of malware". On the other hand, the top reviewer of Microsoft Defender for Endpoint writes "Enables ingestion of events directly into your SIEM/SOAR, but requires integration with all Defender products to work optimally". Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks is most compared with CrowdStrike Falcon, SentinelOne, Symantec End-User Endpoint Security, Trend Micro Apex One and Check Point Harmony Endpoint, whereas Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is most compared with CrowdStrike Falcon, Symantec End-User Endpoint Security, SentinelOne, Sophos Intercept X and Trend Micro Apex One. See our Cortex XDR by Palo Alto Networks vs. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint report.

    See our list of best Endpoint Protection for Business (EPP) vendors.

    We monitor all Endpoint Protection for Business (EPP) reviews to prevent fraudulent reviews and keep review quality high. We do not post reviews by company employees or direct competitors. We validate each review for authenticity via cross-reference with LinkedIn, and personal follow-up with the reviewer when necessary.