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Microsoft Defender brings anti-virus protection to Mac, but limited business roll-out initially

Microsoft is renaming its Windows Defender antivirus software to Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), and bringing it to macOS for the first time.

While Macs are significantly less vulnerable to malware than Windows machines, they are not immune. Examples include fake Flash Player installers and cryptocurrency-stealing browser exploits and apps

Although macOS uses techniques like sandboxing and system-level checks before allowing apps to be installed from outside the Mac App Store, there are ways of circumventing these protections.

Microsoft Defender ATP runs under Sierra, High Sierra and Mojave.

The company is currently only offering it to business customers already using the Windows version, and The Verge reports that Microsoft is targeting enterprises running a mix of Windows and Mac machines.

A limited preview will be available for businesses to try out the antivirus protection in environments that have a mix of both Windows PCs and Macs. Microsoft is using its AutoUpdate software on macOS to keep the client up to date […]

Defender is currently built into Windows 10, offering antivirus protection by default.

The company is currently offering it to ‘a small group’ of enterprise customers. It’s not known at this point when it will be available to businesses more widely, nor whether Microsoft has any plans to offer it to consumers.

Companies can apply to join the Microsoft Defender ATP trial if they use Windows Defender and have Macs in their mix.

Personally, I’m not a fan of antivirus software on Macs. They are often resource hogs, and if you are sensible in the way you use your machine, most especially only installing apps from outside the Mac App Store if it’s a developer you know and trust, I consider the real-life risk very low.

That said, the risk would be higher in a mixed-platform environment, and everyone needs to make their own assessment.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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