Microsoft Defender coming to devices running Android, iOS

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Microsoft Defender software will extend its activity to fight the good fight against malware on iOS and Android mobile platforms. Expect to see the Defender software for these devices later this year, according to reports. But why bother? Matthew Humphries in PC Magazine says, "Microsoft believes there's a market for its security software on mobile devices, so Android and iOS users will soon have the option of running Microsoft Defender on their devices."

Regarding Android, Tom Warren in The Verge said, "Microsoft will join this growing market to prevent malware in Android apps that are sideloaded onto devices." Quoted by CNBC, Rob Lefferts, a Microsoft corporate vice president, said that people can end up allowing malware onto their Android devices by installing applications they find outside of Google Play, which is the official repository of apps for Android.

A BGR report said, "If you've been reading BGR even sporadically for the past several years, you know how frequently malware shows up in applications that Android users sideload on to their devices from outside the official Google Play store." A big reason for this move to iOS and Android is phishing prevention. This extended reach would count as a measure to stop employees at companies from accidentally revealing their user names, passwords or other account information.

"Phishing prevention will likely be one of the main features for Defender on iOS and Android," said Anthony Spadafora in TechRadar, "as Microsoft looks to protect businesses from having their employees reveal their usernames, passwords and other account information to potential attackers."

A PCWorld report said, "Microsoft apparently hopes to reassure its that it can secure their phones as well as their PCs." What about consumers? Defender for mobile will be part of the company's enterprise security platform, "and as of now, it is still unclear as to whether or not Microsoft will make its antivirus apps available to consumers," Spadafora added.

CNBC said the Defender software coming to Android and iOS was designed to prevent people from visiting online destinations that Microsoft deems unsafe. Nonetheless, Tyler Lee in Ubergizmo was still looking for answers: "The company will be sharing more details about the app next week," he wrote, "so we'll be sharing those details with you then. That being said, it will be interesting to see what kind of protection Microsoft can offer to iOS devices. This is largely due to Apple's walled garden approach with third-party apps that can sometimes limit its functionality."

Tom Warren in The Verge suggested a similar reason to be curious, as "Microsoft's mobile Defender clients will likely be very different to the desktop versions, especially as Apple's iOS platform doesn't allow apps to scan for malware across an iPhone or iPad."

TechRadar, though, was looking forward to an upcoming security event for a fuller story. "Microsoft has not yet shared any details regarding the functionality of the apps yet," wrote Anthony Spadafora, "but it does plan to preview them at the upcoming RSA conference." The San Francisco event starts Feb. 24.

Moti Gindi, corporate vice president, Microsoft Threat Protection, said in a February 20 blog post that "next week at the RSA Conference, we'll provide a preview of our investments in mobile threat defense with the work we're doing to bring our solutions to Android and iOS."

Mark Hachman, PCWorld, has gathered some insight into the move to iOS and Android. "Interestingly, the Defender package that Microsoft plans to install doesn't appear to be traditional anti-malware," he wrote. "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."

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