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Here is a quick overview for how to enable Windows Defender in your Windows 10 devices: 

    1. Open the taskbar
    2. Click the Windows Defender Icon (Shield or Castle depending on O.S) 
    3. This will open the Windows Defender Panel. Here look for the setting “Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus” which is underneath the folders of other settings.
    4. Open “Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus” and make sure it’s set to “Disabled” or “Not configured”.

In our effort to provide a greater scope of support for businesses in the Greater Boston Area, we have put together a more comprehensive blog around Windows Defender, what it is, how to enable and manage it, and our professional advice for additional layers of security you should consider.

What is Windows Defender?

Windows Defender is in essence an antivirus software included in Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 10 operating systems. Its main function is to protect devices with cloud-powered protection, real-time analytics, and the ability to remove detected malware threats. As it’s built into the operating system itself, there’s no need to install or download anything besides routine and necessary updates that can be handled through Windows Update. 

Additionally, Microsoft continues to invest in developing new features and functionalities into its software, and Windows Defender is no exception. New offline capabilities are available, which means you are able to run a system scan at bootup, and without an internet connection, making the tool much better at detecting and removing malicious software.

 

Is Windows Defender enabled and functioning?

One of the main questions our customers have: how can I know if Windows Defender is running or not? There are two different ways of checking for this and it depends on the operating system your devices are running.

For Windows 10, you should look for the shield icon in the taskbar. The icon might be hidden, so click on the arrow to display additional apps. If the icon appears to have a green checkmark it means Windows Defender is enabled and running, and if it has a red cross it’s turned off. 

For Windows Vista and Windows 7, look for a castle icon in the taskbar. The green check icon will mean Windows Defender is enabled and the red cross will mean it is not. 

How to turn on Windows Defender?

You have two options to turn on the software.

Via Task Bar

    1. Open the taskbar
    2. Click the Windows Defender Icon (Shield or Castle depending on O.S) 
    3. This will open the Windows Defender Panel. Here look for the setting “Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus” which is underneath the folders of other settings.
    4. Open “Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus” and make sure it’s set to “Disabled” or “Not configured”.

For more information and a step by step you can check the following sources:

 

 

Via Search Bar 

    1. Click the Start menu and type “Defender” into the search bar (you can also press Windows key + Q to bring up the search bar needed). This shortcut will launch the search function on your system.
    2. This will display the Windows Defender app. Click to open the Windows Defender Panel. 
    3. Here look for the setting “Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus” which is underneath the folders of other settings.
    4. Open “Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus” and make sure it’s set to “Disabled” or “Not configured”.

If you can’t turn on the application following any of these two options, you might be having any of the following issues:

  • You might have a third-party antivirus software installed and running in your Operating System.
  • You might have a Group Policy that’s preventing you from turning on Windows Defender or even opening the panel.
  • You might have leftover files and registry entries associated with third-party antivirus previously run on that specific device. 

Remember that we are here to support you in activating and managing your technology environment including Windows Defender. Let us know if you need additional support. 

Is Windows Defender enough?

This is a much deeper conversation than just an antivirus blocking malicious sites or malware from entering your device. The way we conceive cybersecurity, Windows Defender is just the first line of defense against cyberthreats. 

It might be sufficient to block certain websites or malicious programs from running on your device, but there is much more to consider, especially since threats continue to evolve to bypass antivirus programs. 

For instance, Windows Defender is great at blocking malware that tries to start running on your computer, and it’s only effective as long as you are online and the app can send tiny fingerprints of suspect programs to an online service to see if it matches known threats, and act accordingly. However, a new type of malware has been encrypted to live in your laptop undetected showing no signs of concern for days, to then activate itself days later deceiving antivirus software and potentially penetrating your entire network.  If this threat becomes active when you are offline, Windows Defender won’t be able to detect anything wrong until it is probably too late. 

Our professional answer to this question will be: as device protection, Windows Defender is enough. But as a whole cybersecurity strategy, it only plays a role in protecting the endpoints that run the program, additional layers of email security, endpoint protection, and network security are needed. 

Not sure how secure your business is? We can help you run a Cybersecurity Assessment

Support for Windows Defender set-up

Windows Defender is a layer of security that runs on the endpoint. This means it needs to be configured in every device your organization has and depending on the number of employees and devices you have it can easily become a time-consuming task. Here is where Casserly Consulting can support you. 

We help businesses in the Greater Boston area, configure each device to not only have Windows Defender on, but also all the additional programs and applications your workforce needs like Microsoft 365, CRMs, or specific business applications. Additionally, we can help you set up security features for your email and collaboration apps to enhance governance. 

 

*Note: Resource available in partnership with Nero Consulting.