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Differences Between Microsoft 365 Defender And Microsoft Sentinel? Discover Here

5 Min. Read

Are you looking to upgrade your digital security posture? You have a number of options to choose from, with Microsoft 365 Defender and Microsoft Sentinel among the top two.

Microsoft 365 Defender and Microsoft Sentinel are both security solutions offered by Microsoft to help organizations protect against various cyber threats. Both have distinct differences and serve different purposes.

So, what is the difference between Microsoft 365 Defender and Sentinel and how can you pick the best one for your business?

Read on to learn more about the steps you can take to protect your devices from cyber attacks.

What Is Microsoft 365 Defender?

Microsoft 365 Defender is a sophisticated security solution that allows you to prevent, discover and remediate malicious threats from one central dashboard.

This integrated solution provides comprehensive protection for all Microsoft 365 services, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, and Microsoft Teams.

What Is Microsoft 365 Defender?
What Is Microsoft 365 Defender?

The Microsoft 365 Defender portal combines protection, detection, investigation, and response to email, collaboration, identity, device, and cloud app threats, in a central place.

Organizations can use this system to safeguard their emails, documents, identities, and endpoints. What makes this solution so unique is that it uses artificial intelligence and machine learning so you can respond to threats in real-time.

Not just that, Microsoft 365 Defender also provides detailed threat intelligence. These reports allow organizations to gain deeper insight into the types of threats they face and strengthen their security protocols.

What Is Microsoft Sentinel?

Microsoft Sentinel is a cloud-native Security Information Event Management (SIEM) and Security Orchestration Automated Response (SOAR) solution.

Microsoft Sentinel delivers intelligent security analytics and threat intelligence across the enterprise, providing a single solution for alert detection, threat visibility, proactive hunting, and threat response.

What Is Microsoft Sentinel?
What Is Microsoft Sentinel?

Microsoft Sentinel makes it easy to collect security data across your entire hybrid organization from devices, users, apps, servers, and any cloud. Using the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning, Sentinel ensures that real threats are identified quickly and unleashes you from the burden of a traditional security incident and event management solutions (SIEMs) by automating setting up, maintaining, and scaling infrastructure.

Not restricted to Microsoft services, this solution provides across-the-board real-time threat responses. That covers cloud services, devices, and applications, securing your data on all fronts.

The three-step process detects the threat, responds with data protection protocols, and launches an immediate investigation into the source of the breach. Microsoft Sentinel is a superb SIEM and SOAR tool for small to large organizations seeking protection against cyber attacks.

Related: I Have Microsoft Sentinel, Do I need Microsoft Defender for Cloud?

Difference Between Microsoft 365 Defender and Sentinel

To properly gauge which of these cybersecurity solutions is the best fit for your business, you need to understand what sets them apart.

Learning the strengths and weaknesses of each tool is the best way to gauge whether it is the ideal choice.

#1. Integration

The biggest difference between these tools is their focus. Microsoft 365 Defender is designed primarily as a protective shield for all services that fall under the umbrella of Microsoft 365.

If your organization uses Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, or Microsoft Teams to conduct important business, then Microsoft 365 Defender is the safety solution(s) for you.

On the other hand, Microsoft Sentinel is geared towards providing a comprehensive across-the-board security solution. If you’re looking for a broader solution to cover your organization’s entire environment, Microsoft Sentinel has you covered.

Microsoft Sentinel | Data connectors
Microsoft Sentinel | Data connectors

Its visibility and control are unparalleled. You can also integrate Microsoft Sentinel with third-party products, which isn’t a facility available when you’re using Microsoft 365 Defender. That means you can correlate cloud data, your firewall logs, and on-premises devices for a secure system.

#2. Response

The second difference between Microsoft 365 Defender and Microsoft Sentinel is in how they respond to threats. Microsoft 365 Defender is proactive while Microsoft Sentinel is reactive, and can be used as proactive too. What does that mean? It’s simple.

Defender is ideal for organizations that want to take preemptive measures to strengthen their security protocols and prevent any data breaches. It uses advanced technologies to analyze your organization’s systems and identify any potential threats.

In contrast, Sentinel is designed to respond to data breaches that have already occurred in the most efficient way possible. This is the best solution to protect your data during an active threat.

If you’re a threat hunter who wants to be proactive about looking for security threats, Microsoft Sentinel has powerful hunting search and query tools to hunt for security threats across your organization’s data sources.

Create Microsoft Sentinel Hunting Query
Create Microsoft Sentinel Hunting Query

These key differences in their response strategies set both tools firmly apart in terms of use and application.

#3. Functions

Another difference is the types of functions are services you will get while using each solution.

With Microsoft 365 Defender organizations receive detailed intelligence reports that allow insight into the types of threats they are facing. This analytical information helps businesses devise security responses that can better protect their data and systems.

Microsoft 365 Defender | Threat Analytics
Microsoft 365 Defender | Threat Analytics

Similarly, Microsoft Sentinel gives organizations a heightened level of control over their entire environment. This security system offers a unified view of security data across sources like cloud services, devices, and applications.

Microsoft Sentinel new overview experience
Microsoft Sentinel new overview experience

The differences in functionality each system offers make them suitable for different uses. It is up to organizations to review the types of threats they are facing and decide which system best suits their needs.

#4. Automation

In terms of automation, Microsoft Sentinel is the clear winner. Its API capacity is far superior to Microsoft 365 and even allows organizations to use the Azure Logic App tool to automate incident handling. This means you can circumvent a lot of the routine tasks that would take up countless processing hours by automating basic environmental sequences.

Microsoft Sentinel Automation | Logic App
Microsoft Sentinel Automation | Logic App

The types of automation that Logic Apps is capable of include data enrichment using third-party sources, automated device quarantining, and several other valuable time-saving sequences.

#5. Systems Support

With Microsoft Sentinel users are able to receive increased support for their MSSPs (Managed Security Service Providers). That means you can use the Azure Lighthouse and Azure AD Entitlement Management to manage multiple tenants, using special tools that aren’t available in the Microsoft 365 model, so it’s a perfect fit for the MSSP access needs when it comes to Microsoft 365 Defender workloads.

High-level architecture for MSSP access
High-level architecture for MSSP access

One such facility is the ability to single view every incident customers report. Another would be the ability to change detection rules using the Azure DevOps pipeline. These timesaving channels can be incredibly helpful for a large organization.

See Also: Integrate Microsoft Defender for Cloud and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, the decision to pick Microsoft 365 Defender or Microsoft Sentinel will come down to three main questions:

  • Which applications and systems do your organization most use?
  • What type of response are you looking for?
  • Which security services are a priority for your business?

While both of these are premium security solutions they serve different purposes. Organizations must select the solution that best meets their specific security needs.

Microsoft 365 Defender is ideal for organizations that rely heavily on Microsoft 365 services and want to protect their system against future threats. Microsoft Sentinel works best for organizations that need a comprehensive security solution to react effectively in response to a security breach.

When you keep these key differences in mind choosing a security solution will become incredibly simple. Then again, you can always use both!

> Learn More: How To Use Microsoft 365 Defender?

> Learn More: Top Best Practices for Deploying Microsoft Sentinel

Thank you for reading my blog.

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment.

-Charbel Nemnom-

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About the Author
Charbel Nemnom
Charbel Nemnom is a Senior Cloud Architect with 21+ years of IT experience. As a Swiss Certified Information Security Manager (ISM), CCSP, CISM, Microsoft MVP, and MCT, he excels in optimizing mission-critical enterprise systems. His extensive practical knowledge spans complex system design, network architecture, business continuity, and cloud security, establishing him as an authoritative and trustworthy expert in the field. Charbel frequently writes about Cloud, Cybersecurity, and IT Certifications.

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