Qualys BYOL or built-in Qualys agent for Azure Security Center – Microsoft Defender for Cloud MDfC

If you are deploying Microsoft Defender for Cloud (MDfC) on your servers (previously known as Microsoft Defender for Servers) you are probably using the built-in vulnerability assessment tool as described in the Integrated Qualys vulnerability scanner for virtual machines article. This Qualys tool is built-in into Defender for Cloud and doesn’t require any external licenses. However, if your company is already utilizing Qualys as your primary threat and vulnerability scanner, you should be able to leverage the BYOL solution, as this will provide Qualys Vulnerability Assessment in both your Qualys subscription and in the Azure Security Center. The Azure Security Center handles the deployment of Qualys Cloud Agent for this solution to work. Agents installed via other methods (extensions, baked into images, or deployed manually) will not report their findings into the associated ASC.

Some considerations to review before comparing the options.

  • Cost: The built-in scanner is included with MDfC has no added cost in Azure Defender for Cloud. BYOL option requires maintaining a Qualys license.
  • Coverage: The built-in scanner supports Azure ARC machines, while the Qualys BYOL option will not cover on-prem and multi cloud machines. The BYOL option only works with Azure Virtual Machines.
  • Deployment: The built-in scanner has more deployment options through API making it almost automatically deployment for Azure Virtual Machines (see official docs)
  • Vulnerability findings: The built-in scanner findings in Azure Security Center are richer with data, comparing to BYOL findings in ASC, whereas BYOL findings are also reflected in the Qualys platform. For instance, while you will find the same CVE and Security Recommendations, the metadata passed to ASC will not be as complete as using the build-in agent.

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