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Microsoft ends support for 'Defender Application Guard for Office'

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Microsoft has announced it is ending support for its Defender Application Guard for Office. The company released a list of “deprecated features”, which included Application Guard for Office. This security feature has only been mainstream since 2021, and its very short life has already come to a close as Microsoft suggests alternatives. There’s no cause for alarm, however, as it is a relatively simple task switching to alternative safeguards.

What did Application Guard do

Many users are probably not even aware of Defender Application Guard for Office. The news of it not receiving support is likely the first time many have heard of it. However, it played a vital role for Office users and almost all of them interacted with it often. Made available to Office 365 users in 2021, Defender Application Guard for Office helped detect and isolate potentially dangerous files.

Defender Application Guard warns users when they are about to open a file it considers malicious. It also goes a step further and opens these files in an isolated virtual sandbox. This means these files, if dangerous, would fail to infect the host system. Said virtual sandbox is a cut above ordinary virtual machines. These “Hyper-V enabled” containers are running on a virtual machine themselves, adding an extra layer of security and anonymity.

Microsoft suggests alternatives

In the list that Microsoft mentioned ending support for Defender Application Guard, the company also suggested alternatives users should adopt. For starters, Microsoft recommends users switch to Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. Defender for Endpoint is an enterprise endpoint security platform. It lets enterprise networks detect, prevent, and respond to cyberattacks and threats. It also protects endpoint devices like laptops, phones, and routers from these threats.

Microsoft also recommends users adopt Protected View. A very common security feature, Protected View opens potentially dangerous files in a read-only format. Editing can be enabled by the user in a safer environment thanks to Protected View. Lastly, Microsoft told users to get Windows Defender Application Control. With this, admins can specify in detail which applications, scripts, and libraries are allowed to run on the system. Anything not on an approved list will be prevented from executing on the system.

Defender Application Guard for Office fulfilled a very specific role for a very specific niche. Ending support for it seems to indicate Microsoft might be looking to move towards a broader offering of services that package many features together. Protected View and Application Control are good precautions, but it is obvious that Defender for Endpoint is now expected to replace Application Guard for Office.

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