Do I need anything besides Windows Defender?

A reader asks:

If I have Windows Defender, do I need to buy anything else to protect my computer?

If your computer is running the Windows 8 operating system, Windows Defender will help protect you from viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. You don’t need to buy anything else.

If your computer is running Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP, Windows Defender removes spyware, but to protect yourself from viruses, you’ll need to download antivirus software. You can purchase it from a third party, or you can download Microsoft Security Essentials for free.

More ways to protect against viruses and other malware

Run newer software. Advanced security technologies in modern operating systems are specifically designed to make it more difficult, more complex, more expensive, and therefore, less appealing to cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities.

Regularly install updates for all your software. Update your antivirus and antispyware programs, browsers (like Windows Internet Explorer), operating systems (like Windows), and word processing and other programs. Learn how to turn on automatic updating.

Make sure your firewall is turned on. A firewall will also help protect against viruses and hackers. Find out if your version of Windows has a built-in firewall.

For more information, see How to remove and avoid computer viruses.

About the Author
Eve Blakemore

Group Manager, Trustworthy Computing

Eve Blakemore is a Group Manager for Trustworthy Computing who delivers consumer guidance around the latest trends in security and privacy. Eve joined Microsoft in 1998 and has worked in corporate and field roles with Microsoft Learning, US Public Sector, Read more »

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  1. Anonymous

    You left out opting into Advanced MAPS.

  2. Anonymous

    I am confused, resently received a telephone call from Microsoft rep. sounded very suspicous, and since thst time I am having problem with all kinds of updateing notifications from Windows, and from Adobe-Acrobat ? I am afraid that there are some unusual actions going on . Please respond to my concerns.

    Thank you

  3. Anonymous

    I don't believe that any Rep from MS would call you. If they asked you to download software to gain access to your machine, under the guise of helping you solve your problem. Then I would also be suspicious! If you think someone dropped malware on your node. Try out Before running the software disable Defender. SAS is underrated! I swear by this program, and it has saved many of my customers plenty of monies. The software will   Detect and Remove Spyware, Adware, Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers and many other types of threats. And best of all "it's free!" Give it a try, post back

  4. Anonymous

    I also received a call from Microsoft and thought it was bogus.  Is this for real???  She claims I am not getting my updates and wanted me to give her access to my computer.  Microsoft is this for real???

    Has anyone else ever gotten this call?

  5. Anonymous

    please about month go every day or day after day come on my window sign from diferent protection company told me about notice protection on my computer : and i have reg work : and reg work most time: suddenly for me the computer off and i see reg work off the computer and told me how many problem i have: and my question to you how many company protection i need  the computer : please told me: becase the page you send for me: i need 3 days for reading it : please told sbout short time how i do:::::::::::thank you 

  6. Anonymous

    Microsoft will never call you.  You have been duped!!

    I do have the Brooklyn bridge for sale.  I just need access to your PC to verify you are an honest person.  

    I will also need your social security number, mothers maiden name..favorite you were born in.

  7. Anonymous

    Missed one important key: don't run as the super user. In Windows, this can just mean leaving UAC turned on. But, in order of importance, there are steps you need:

    1. Keep your system patched. This refers not just to windows updates, but also Office, all browsers on your system, any runtimes, like .Net, Java, or Adobe Air, any Apple products (iTunes is a target, because it's linked directly to your credit card), and Adobe Acrobat.

    2. Don't run as the super user. A patched system doesn't matter, if any process you run has full system privileges. If a process is compromised, running with standard permissions will limit the damage to something that can probably still be safely cleaned. Again, in Windows, this can mean just leaving UAC on.

    3. AnitiVirus/Malware software. This is a *very distant third place*. In recent years, it seems like malware has been more and more winning the battle vs antivirus software, limiting the benefit here vs items 1 and 2.

    4. Firewall. This is less important today, and more operating system ship with uncessary services turned off by default. Malware could always install it's own service, but it's so much easier for infected malware to poll a web service, and anyway: if malware has already compromised your system it could just disable the firewall or tell it to open a port.

  8. Anonymous

    well with Windows Defender scoring very low scores in the detection ratings now I would probably go with something else

  9. Anonymous

    I also have been getting urgent non stop calls from WINDOWS at my moms house!  How would they know her or worse…call her like crazy asking for me!  Im not so convinced defender is awesome…and the security of 8 and 8.1 and IE 10/11…I never have had my mouse move on its own!

  10. Anonymous

    I am so dumb when it comes to how to take care of my computer.  I certainly need a really good tech for sure.  Have not found one in my area.  My computer keeps shutting down right in the middle of my genealogy research and work.  Yes I too, have had those calls and stupid me I was first took in and have paid for it with more phone calls.  The last one I told them off and now I am really worried.  I am worried that my computer will crash  with all my work on  I do not know how to burn a CD or how to keep my work safe.  I do have carbonite but not knowing just how they work or if they do keep all of the things on my computer safe.  

    I know you all will know now that I am such a dummy.   I still need help….

  11. Anonymous

    I am running Norton Internet Security, however Action Center reports the Norton firewall is off even though it is indeed on and working fine. This is driving me nuts!

  12. Anonymous

    I'm new to Win 8.1, now that my free security software has expired, how do I go about making Defender my choice security method?

  13. Anonymous

    Microsoft will never call you.  Wake up and smell the roses.


    Kaspersky is a decent option but remember to be proactive and run a full scan at least once a month. when adding credit cards and other data use a virtual keyboard in inprivate browser settings for IE 11. Windows Updates are every Tuesday and make sure they download I have had problems with assuming the settings would stay set for automatic but even the troubleshooter claims everything is correct when I didn't receive updates. Office 365 seems to grant permissions to allow a lot more security leaks than without it. : IE add-on's and syncing with other user applications is a nice and very friendly way to enjoy the New MS Fisher-Price looking OS while opening yourself up to threats.


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