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O365 Cloud App Security vs Microsoft Cloud App Security vs Defender for Cloud Apps: What's the Difference?

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The total number of Office 365 users reached 345 million this year. But with plenty of different terms for Microsoft's services flying around, it can be challenging to know what you're looking for.

Between Office 365 Cloud App Security, Microsoft Cloud App Security and Defender for Cloud Apps, knowing the difference is critical for business users who want to get the most out of their Microsoft plans.


What Is Microsoft Defender?

Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps was previously known as Microsoft Cloud App Security. Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps is now part of Microsoft 365 Defender. From here on out, we'll talk about Microsoft 365 Defender

Microsoft 365 Defender is a pre- and post-defence suite that coordinates detection, prevention, investigation and response across endpoints, identities, email and applications to protect against sophisticated attacks. The centralised Microsoft 365 Defender portal means you can perform these security tasks in one location.

Microsoft 365 Defender works on a zero-trust basis, taking automatic action to prevent or stop an attack. The integrated solution allows you to see the full impact of the threat, how it entered the environment, what it has affected and how it's currently impacting the system.


What Is Office 365 Cloud App Security?

Office 365 Cloud App Security is a subset of Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps, and therefore Microsoft 365 Defender, which provides enhanced visibility and control for Office 365.

The main difference between Microsoft Defender and Office 365 Cloud App Security is the number of cloud apps available. Office 365 Cloud App Security gives access to 750+ cloud apps with similar functionality to Office 365 compared to 25,000+ cloud apps for Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps.

Unlike Office 365 Cloud App Security, Microsoft 365 Defender allows for automated uploads of discovery analysis, cloud app risk assessments, cloud usage analytics, ongoing analytics and reporting — among other features.

While both allow for real-time session monitoring and control, Microsoft 365 Defender allows for this on any cloud-based and on-premises app, while Office 365 Cloud App Security only does this for Office 365 apps.

While Office 365 Cloud App Security is distinct from Microsoft 365 Defender, it’s accessed through the same portal. 

Office 365 Cloud App Security is only available with the Office 365 E5 subscription, whereas Microsoft 365 Defender is available in the Microsoft 365 E5 and F5 plans and the Enterprise Mobility + Security E5 plan.

Those using Office 365 Cloud App Security are usually beginning to move to the cloud and the first step is Office 365. As an organisation matures and uses other cloud services, this is when you should consider moving to Microsoft 365 Defender.


Using Microsoft 365 Defender for SMEs

Moving to the cloud provides more flexibility, reduced IT costs and better scalability. But, as with any new technology, it also introduces new challenges in terms of security. 

While you often hear about cyber attacks at large companies, such as the Facebook data breach in 2019, small to medium-sized businesses tend to be easier targets due to their perceived lack of resources and security knowledge. 

Cyber attacks on SMEs are becoming more frequent and complex. In 2021, businesses suffered 50% more cyber attack attempts per week. While 43% of cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses, only 14% of them are prepared to defend themselves from these attacks. 

The best way for companies to stay secure is through a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) like Microsoft 365 Defender.

Microsoft developed Defender to protect all small business customers against sophisticated cyber threats by attackers. These systems address organisation cloud security gaps by giving admins the granular detail they need to oversee user activities and sensitive data. 

With Microsoft 365 Defender, you can protect your sensitive information anywhere in the cloud and detect unusual behaviour across cloud apps, which will identify ransomware, compromised users and applications. 

You can also ensure your cloud apps meet compliance requirements, preventing data leaks from non-compliant apps and limiting access to regulated data. 

While the terminology and names can seem complicated and unnecessarily confusing, simply put, Microsoft 365 Defender is the more extensive package offering more security features for all cloud-based apps, while Office 365 Cloud App Security only works with Office 365 apps. 

Both packages benefit different life stages of your business and are easily scalable as your security needs grow.


How Can PSTG Help?

Our experienced team of professionals can help you make the right choice regarding your security plans. We’re experts in the Microsoft Cloud and can deliver creative IT and digital transformation solutions to help you grow your business securely. 

Would you like to learn more about what managed IT Services for Microsoft 365 can do for you? Check out our SME guide to find out you can make the most out of Microsoft 365. 

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