Microsoft tasks its Defender antimalware with securing corporate Android and iOS phones

Microsoft booth at MWC 2016
Image: IDGNS

Defender may eventually hit your smartphone, corporate clients appear to be the priority for now

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21 February 2020 | 0

While malware writers have attacked PCs because of their popularity and large attack surfaces, Android and iOS phones aren’t immune – and Microsoft, recognising this, plans to offer Microsoft Defender for both platforms.

Though Microsoft apparently plans to release more details at the RSA Security conference next week, company executives revealed their plans to CNBC last week. Microsoft also announced Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection for Linux on Thursday, in a public preview announced via a blog post.

Microsoft renamed ‘Windows Defender’ as ‘Microsoft Defender’ last July, perhaps signaling its plans to secure other platforms. A preview of both its iOS and Android security solutions will be available next week at the RSA conference.

“They’re pretty safe, but pretty safe is not the same as safe,” Rob Lefferts, a Microsoft corporate vice president, said in the CNBC interview, talking about the prevalence of malware on smartphones. “Malware does happen on those platforms.”

Interestingly, the Defender package that Microsoft plans to install doesn’t appear to be traditional antimalware. While Windows Defender scans for and removes malware on your PC, the iOS and Android solutions Microsoft announced are designed to prevent people from visiting online destinations that Microsoft thinks are unsafe, Lefferts told CNBC. (Google also filters results from its search engine that it deems unsafe.) It’s unclear what Defender will do if it detects malware or adware on your smartphone, however.

Though consumers could eventually benefit from Microsoft’s decision, for now the company is targeting smartphones managed by enterprises. “We know our customers’ environments are complex and heterogenous,” Microsoft said in its blog post. “Providing comprehensive protection across multiple platforms through a single solution and streamlined view is more important than ever.”

While Google has traditionally claimed that running up-to-date Android software is the best defense against malware, users may feel a bit more comfortable with an added layer of protection. Microsoft apparently hopes to reassure its corporate clients that it can secure their phones as well as their PCs.

IDG News Service

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