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3/21/2019
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Microsoft Brings Defender Security Tools to Mac

Windows Defender becomes Microsoft Defender, and it's available in limited preview for Mac users.

Microsoft is renaming its Windows Defender antivirus protection tool and bringing its security capabilities to macOS devices in a "limited preview" mode now available to businesses.

Starting today, Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) will be available for Mac; with this expansion, Windows Defender ATP will be renamed to Microsoft Defender ATP. As part of its endpoint security efforts, Microsoft is also making new Threat and Vulnerability Management (TVM) capabilities available in Microsoft Defender today in preview mode.

The Defender ATP client for Mac was prompted by customer demands for tools that work across platforms, explains Rob Lefferts, who leads enterprise and security program management in the Windows and Devices group. Many customers report "their heterogeneous environment required cross-platform solutions," the main driver behind this development.

Lefferts says customer feedback from the preview period will dictate if and how Defender will work differently across Windows and Mac. The Windows-specific Defender engine updates monthly, which Microsoft believes is a good cadence, but the trial period will be telling.

"Windows and Mac versions have feature gaps, and we will be looking for customer feedback throughout the preview period to prioritize the development of additional capabilities," he adds.

Microsoft Defender is also being updated with TVM, a new capability designed to help security teams discover, prioritize, and address known vulnerabilities and misconfigurations. Users can gauge the risk level of threats and decide which to prioritize based on signals from Defender ATP. TVM provides more vulnerability data during incident investigations and a built-in remediation process via integration with Microsoft Intune and the System Center Configuration Manager.

Microsoft's idea is to bring endpoint protection platform (EPP), endpoint detection and response (EDR), and TVM capabilities to both Windows and Mac, Lefferts says. The preview will start with EPP and expand to include EDR in the coming months.

To be considered for the Microsoft Defender Mac preview, you must have a Microsoft Defender ATP tenant (trial can be accessed here) and one or more macOS computers in your environment. If interested in the preview, you can apply for access here. It will be available for Mac devices running macOS Mojave, macOS High Sierra, or macOS Sierra, The Verge reports.

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Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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