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.

SEE: Mobile device security policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Microsoft Defender vs. CrowdStrike: Feature comparison

FeatureMicrosoft DefenderCrowdStrike
Easy to useYesYes
Easy to deployYesYes
Phishing protectionYesYes
Malware protectionYesYes
Intrusion mitigationYesYes
2FAYesYes
Intrusion detectionYesYes

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. CrowdStrike also integrates with all the currently supported Microsoft operating systems.

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 through its Falcon Prevent and Falcon Insight platforms.

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 according to user reviews, its machine learning systems have a higher false-positive rate. On one hand, this can result in more notifications for the security team to investigate, but it can also help administrators remain vigilant to potential threats that may reside within a gray area.

Single-agent design

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

Microsoft has a multi-agent design that provides flexibility but requires an update to the entire OS in order to update the platform.

Choosing between Microsoft Defender and CrowdStrike

Both Microsoft Defender and CrowdStrike are feature-complete endpoint security solutions..

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.