Microsoft 365 E5 Security and Compliance Add-Ons explained

Sep 18, 2023

Aiming to boost your security and compliance capabilities without using a full E5 licence?

Microsoft 365’s E5 Security and Compliance add-on could be the solution for you.

Microsoft 365 E5 is well known for its industry-leading security and advanced compliance technology. With that, it’s also the most expensive Microsoft licence available and a full E5 licence isn’t always the right option for every business. Some might want to focus on advanced threat protection and response over compliance features and vice versa.

Other companies, however, may be happy with both of these features, but not necessarily need the extra phone and conferencing capabilities that are included within the full E5 licence.

Microsoft 365 E5 Security and E5 Compliance add-ons packages Microsoft’s E5 security and E5 compliance and data loss prevention technologies (DLP) into two individual add-ons, however if you want both capabilities it is more cost effective to buy the full E5 licence.

The add-ons provide Microsoft’s market-leading security or compliance and DLP technologies to Microsoft 365 E3 licence. This news is welcomed by many Microsoft users, as organisations now have greater flexibility, allowing them to access and pay for only what they need without costly and unnecessary extras that they do not need to deploy.  If the additional E5 capabilities are required later there is a simple upgrade path to the full E5 licence.

Is it something businesses really need?

Back in 2021, the National Cyber Security Centre, Microsoft and the Government Digital Service reviewed their security and compliance guidance for UK public sector organisations that use Microsoft 365.

Based on a measurement of ‘Good’ ‘Better’ and ‘Best’ the general consensus is that most organisations need to be achieving the ‘Better’ standard when it comes to cybersecurity. To do this, as a minimum you would need access to the E5 level security tools.  To reach the ‘Best’ level both add-ons or an E5 licence would be needed.

Obtaining the ability to show you have the effective security and compliance capabilities in place will allow your organisation to be in a good place in data legislation terms and stay ahead of future threats.

Whether you decide to go for one add-on, the two, or invest in a full E5 licence, the security and compliance abilities within Microsoft 365 E5 are becoming an increasingly vital consideration for many modern enterprises, and normally will allow savings to be made over licensing individual so it’s worth putting some serious thought into what solution will be best for your business.

This blog will break down exactly what the E5 Security and Compliance add-ons are, how it compares to the previous offering and what products you can expect to receive in each bundle.

What is the Microsoft 365 E5 Security add-on?

The E5 Security add-on allows organisations to gain access to advanced security and threat protection capabilities. And it doesn’t have to break the bank, it’s available at a discounted price compared to if you purchase standalone licences or the full Microsoft 365 E5 subscription.

The E5 Security add-on provides a selection of Microsoft’s security services, bringing them together in a cost-effective tailored package, which can deliver real value to your current IT operations and take your security measures to the next level.

Prior to the E5 Security add-on, organisations could only achieve this level of security if they:

  • Purchased Microsoft 365 E5 – This is the most expensive and highest-spec licence where a lot of the cost is due to features such as PowerBI Pro and voice/telephony, which isn’t necessary for most companies.
  • Licencing Mix and Match – Using E3 and E5 offerings across Office 365, Windows 10 and EMS to utilise the security tools. However this can be quite a complex method, and choosing this option would mean companies may have missed out on the discount offered with the Microsoft 365 bundle.

Which is why the Microsoft 365 E5 Security Add-on can offer far greater value for organisations, with sophisticated security tools and advanced capabilities at a fraction of the price.

What products are included in the Microsoft 365 E5 Security add-on?

The following products are included within the add-on:

  • Entra ID P2
  • Microsoft Defender for Office 365
  • Microsoft Defender for Identity
  • Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps
  • Microsoft Defender for Endpoint

Bringing these products and services together provides a comprehensive and integrated approach to your security system. All of these features seamlessly integrate and can pass data to each other to create a simplified overview of your security, which provides enhanced security and a great user experience.

As well as favourable cost savings, having a simplified process is hugely valuable, as with complexity comes vulnerability in the security world. Multiple, separate pieces that fail to integrate can leave you more exposed and at an increased risk of threats and mistakes.

What do these products offer?

Entra ID Plan 2: This cloud-based directory provides comprehensive identity and access management capabilities and unifies user accounts for enhanced security and management. Features include single-sign on (SSO), self-service password reset and password-less functions.

Microsoft Defender for Office 365: Email protection with a twist, delivering additional malware and URL link protection and email detonation chambers. Providing enhanced protection against advanced attacks including phishing, malware, spam and business email compromise. Features also include interactive threat explorer, red/blue team simulations to find security holes and threat alerts that can be attended to with one-click actions.

Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps: This function delivers full protection for SaaS applications, allowing you to monitor and safeguard your cloud app data. It gives you greater visibility into your cloud apps and services, whilst reporting and analysing web browsing activity.

Microsoft Defender for Identity: A proactive cloud-based security solution that alerts your on-premises Active Directory signals to identify, detect and investigate advanced threats, compromised identities and targeted cyberattacks.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint: An endpoint security platform, detecting advanced attacks with clear reaction options within minutes. Microsoft defines this feature as ‘the epicentre for comprehensive endpoint security.’ It lives up to its name, as a product that can rapidly stop attacks, grow security resources and evolve defences across your operations.

What is the Microsoft 365 E5 Compliance add-on?

The second add-on available to add to your E3 licence is the E5 Compliance add-on. The top-tier compliance technologies included are considered essential for enterprises that possess large amounts of confidential data that requires management and security.

The compliance add-on would help to show your dedication to compliance when it comes to business audits, enabling you to offer detailed, comprehensive reports of what you have and where it is as well as a track-record of keeping it safe and in the right hands.

The below products are all accessible as individual licences, but also form part of the E5 Compliance add-on, giving you access too:

Advanced eDiscovery and audit: This feature is designed to support you when responding to legal investigations or requests, identify persons of interest, relevant data sources and place legal holds to the data required. This can include identifying data across Teams, Yammer, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business and Exchange Online, as well as being extended to third party sources using data connectors.

Insider Risk Management: A compliance solution which helps to prevent illegal and unauthorised behaviour within your business. With predefined policy templates and conditions, you can gain clarity on what actions trigger an alert and what precautions are in place as a result. Risk analysts in the organisation can then take appropriate actions to ensure users are compliant and meet your organisation’s compliance standards.

Information protection and governance: This helps you to safeguard data wherever it is. The information protection and governance suite will help you to identify the data you have, protect the data, work to prevent data loss and govern it.


The Microsoft 365 E5 Security and Compliance add-ons are available if you have any of the following products:

  • Enterprise Mobility + Security E3
  • Office E3
  • Microsoft 365 E3

Each add-on will total approximately £9 monthly. If you decide to go for both the Security and Compliance add-ons you would benefit from nearly all of the E5 capabilities, (apart from audio conferencing, phone system and PowerBI Pro).


The security add-on is especially beneficial as it includes Microsoft’s top security products, such as Microsoft 365 Defender and Entra ID P2 (previously Azure Active Directory).

The overall quality and high potential of these tools to transform your operations makes the offering a no-brainer for many organisations. Microsoft’s intelligence is simply unmatched, with the company investing millions into its product development, and as a result, few companies can compete with Microsoft’s security and compliance solutions.

The Microsoft 365 E5 Security bundle allows customers to experience the best security solutions in one cost-effective package, without needing to have a full Microsoft 365 E5 licence.

For more information or a demo of these tools, our friendly team of Microsoft experts will be happy to help.  

Security Graphic

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between an E5 Security subscription and the E5 security and compliance add-ons?

The security and compliance add-ons provides organisations with access to Microsoft’s top-tier security technologies without paying for a full licence.

Having a full E5 licence isn’t always the correct option for every organisation. Some organisations want to prioritise threat detection and response over compliance and vice versa.

Other businesses might find they benefit from both of these things, but not the additional capabilities included in a full E5 licence such as conferencing so they might want to opt for these bundles to get what they need at a reduced cost.

What are the benefits of E5 Security?

Microsoft 365 E5 provides integrated and automated security capabilities for identity and threat protection. It can help prevent attacks from causing substantial damage. Compliance—Microsoft 365 E5 centralizes information protection and compliance capabilities to help govern and protect data.

What is the main difference between E3 and E5 subscription?

The Microsoft E3 licence is a subscription-based licence that gives organisations access to productivity security and compliance tools. The main difference between E3 and E5 is that E5 is more heavily focused on security and might be a better fit for larger enterprises. 

Sign up for our no obligation Cloud Readiness Assessment

Speak to an Azure expert today for a free consultation