,Microsoft's antivirus program Defender doesn't have the best reputation when it comes to cyber protection, but is really that bad? Photo: Robert Günther/dpa
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We spend more and more time on devices that connected to the internet so how do we best protect ourselves from viruses and malware?
Antivirus programs are designed to protect against trojans, spyware, and other threats. If you use the Windows 10 operating system, it automatically comes with Windows Defender.
Defender doesn't have a reputation for offering the best security. However, this reputation is undeserved, says antivirus software specialist Jan Schuessler.
"Windows Defender has got better and better over the years and the level of protection is certainly on a par with other antivirus programs such as Norton or Kaspersky," he says.
One advantage compared to other antivirus programs is that it doesn't cost anything, but comes bundled with Windows 10.
Several tests from consumer magazines have shown that Defender offers good protection, although there is room for improvement.
“The protection provided by Microsoft cannot keep up completely because there are only a few extras. In addition, the settings are very hidden, which is why the program is not recommended for laypeople," says Andy Voss from one such consumer magazine, Germany's Computer Bild.
One thing that Defender lacks is a VPN function, which you need for anonymous surfing. Other features that are missing include a vulnerability scanner, an update checker, and a password manager. In addition, Defender does not protect against spam mail.
"Overall, Defender offers good, but rather rudimentary protection because it only fends off malware such as viruses," says Andreas Marx from the AV-TEST Institute, a research institute for IT security in Magdeburg, Germany.
In June this year the institute counted 1.2 million current malware programs with around 350,000 new ones added every day. Spam mail is also becoming more and more professional.
The widespread use of Microsoft Defender could also lead to an increase in the number of hacker attacks targeted against the program.
"The more users use it, the more interesting it becomes for attacks," Schuessler says.
Due to Defender's limited protective screen, AV-Test recommends installing a more comprehensive anti-virus package from another manufacturer. It may cost a few dollars a month, but "offers very good all-round protection," Marx says.
Extending the Defender protection with a second antivirus program does not work because "if you install another protection program, Windows Defender is automatically deactivated," Voss says.
At the same time, however, Defender automatically steps in if, for example, the license of the other antivirus program expires. – dpa