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Windows Defender ATP Support for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Reaches 'General Availability'

The Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) service can now be used to help address security issues with Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 clients.

The capability for Windows Defender ATP to act as an "endpoint detection and response" service for those older Windows operating systems reached "general availability" status, Microsoft announced on Friday. It means that organizations can now use the service in their production environments to track Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 security issues. The capability was at preview stage last year.

Windows Defender ATP originally was built for Windows 10 clients, but Microsoft extended it for its so-called "down-level" Windows OSes. It's also built to support macOS, Linux and Windows Server OSes.

In the case of Windows 7, organizations have little time left to use the new capability, unless they are paying for a "custom support" contract or using Microsoft's Extended Security Updates program. Windows 7 Service Pack 1 will fall out of "extended support" on Jan. 14, 2020, making it potentially insecure to use those clients after that date. Windows 8.1 will reach its end-of-life milestone on Jan. 10, 2023.

Another consideration for organizations is that using the Windows Defender ATP service requires having Microsoft 365 E5 licensing in place. To get the service up and running, IT pros will have to install the Microsoft Monitoring Agent, which delivers sensor data back to Microsoft, according to Microsoft's onboarding document.

Windows Defender ATP started out as a so-called postbreach detection service for forensics purposes to be used after a network got compromised. However, Microsoft has been adding to its capabilities over the years, including the addition of autoremediation capabilities to fix security issues, based on its Hexadite acquisition. The solution is now more of a prevention tool, as well as a forensics tool.

In Friday's announcement, Microsoft defined Windows Defender ATP as "a unified endpoint security platform for preventative protection, post-breach detection, and automated investigation & response."

On the Windows 10 side, Windows Defender ATP provides the following capabilities, according to this Microsoft document:

  • Checks configuration settings to resist exploits
  • Checks for emerging threats
  • Delivers "endpoint detection and response" capabilities
  • Adds "automatic investigation and remediation" capabilities
  • Provides a "Secure Score" assessment of a network's security state
  • Includes a "search and query tool" for detecting possible threats
  • Includes APIs for other software to use

With the general availability of endpoint detection and response capabilities in Windows Defender ATP for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 clients, Microsoft is now suggesting that its service can serve as a "single pane of glass for security teams," according to the announcement.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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