Microsoft planning to use AI to beef up Windows Defender

Microsoft has put a lot of attention into Windows Defender, the built-in security software that ships with Windows. So much, in fact, that it's drawn antitrust complaints from Kaspersky for shunning third-party alternatives. In a move that will further reinforce Microsoft's decision to promote Windows Defender over all other security programs, the Redmond outfit has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Hexadite, a cybersecurity outfit with researchers in Israel (its headquarters are in Boston).

Once the deal is finalized, Microsoft will begin incorporating Hexadite's anti-malware technologies into Windows Defender. Part of that will include artificial intelligence-based automatic investigation and remediation technologies, which Microsoft says will make Windows Defender both faster and more effective at identifying and neutralizing security threats.

"Our vision is to deliver a new generation of security capabilities that helps our customers protect, detect and respond to the constantly evolving and ever-changing cyberthreat landscape," Microsoft's Terry Myerson stated in a blog post. "Hexadite’s technology and talent will augment our existing capabilities and enable our ability to add new tools and services to Microsoft’s robust enterprise security offerings."

Hexadite currently offers a product called AIRS (automated Incident Response Solution) that works with other security detection systems. The company claims it can reduce the time it takes to resolve a cyber incident by 95 percent.

Microsoft did not disclose financial details of the pending transaction, though TechCrunch says it heard from unnamed sources that it's a $100 million deal. Regardless of price, this is the latest in a growing line of security acquisitions by Microsoft, which previously included Aorato, Adollom, and Secure Islands.

Anything Microsoft can do to make Windows Defender more competitive with third-party solutions is fine by us. As it stands, Windows Defender is a decent security product, but slow and thin on features. And based on independent laboratory testing, it's also outgunned by the competition in terms of threat detection. In the latest real-world evaluation by AV-Comparatives (PDF), for example, Windows Defender did not do as good of a job as our top AV pick Bitdefender, as well as alternatives such as Kaspersky, Avast, AVG, and Avira.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).