- Microsoft is expanding its enterprise antivirus software to iOS and Android, the company announced this month.
- The move marks a bid to become the dominant cybersecurity provider for large companies.
- Microsoft engineers and executives spoke to Business Insider about the AI systems that power its Defender antivirus software.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Microsoft’s Defender software, its enterprise antivirus offering, will be available for iOS, Android, and Linux later this year, the company announced this month.
With the new release, Microsoft is staking out its place in a growing market of antivirus providers compatible with smartphones – and it’s pitching its own security tech as a one-stop provider for companies with employees that use multiple devices and operating systems on the job (the newly announced software will be available for businesses, but not individual consumers).
Microsoft engineers and executives who spoke to Business Insider about the offering said Defender primarily aims to prevent employees from falling for phishing scams and to detect insider threats, a rising security concern for companies.
Corporate Vice President for cybersecurity solutions Ann Johnson touted Defender’s features that give companies tools to more closely oversee individuals who might pose an insider threat.
"Let's say I resigned from Microsoft tomorrow, and I give my two weeks notice," Johnson told Business Insider. "Insider risk management gives the organization, with the right HR and legal permissions, the ability to monitor me much more closely."
Defender relies on machine-learning systems that detect anomalous behavior, both with insider threats and potential phishing scams. Microsoft trains its AI using a wealth of signal data from existing users of its software, and it hopes this technical advantage will make it a more appealing provider than one of the dozens of security startups that have appeared in recent years.
"Defender has over half a billion users," said Tanmy Ganacharya, principal security general manager. "We're constantly stitching together those insights."
Like all AI systems that are trained with millions of users' data, Defender raises concerns to some privacy advocates; however, Microsoft insists the signal data used to train Defender is anonymized.
Microsoft is rolling out its new offering later this year.