Apple is frequently releasing new updates to its operating systems with bug fixes and security improvements. In addition, macOS also has a system that lets Apple silently deliver anti-malware protections to Mac computers. And according to a recent research, the company this year introduced major under-the-hood security updates to macOS.
Anti-malware protection in macOS
Just like any other software on the market, macOS is susceptible to malware. And while Macs don’t have an app like Windows Defender that is clearly visible to users, the Mac operating system has a tool called “XProtect” that constantly scans for malware in the background.
XProtect was first introduced with Mac OS X Snow Leopard in 2009, and it can not only find malware on a Mac but also get remote updates from Apple with new malware definitions without requiring a full macOS update. Another similar tool from Apple, Malware Removal Tool (MRT), works in a similar way to remove malware present on a Mac.
Researcher Howard Oakley of Eclectic Light Company (via ArsTechnica) has been monitoring both tools for some time to get an idea of how Apple keeps its computers secure. With macOS Monterey 12.3, which was introduced earlier this year, Apple released a new version of XProtect that replaces the old MRT in a more aggressive way.
Since then, Oakley claims that macOS malware protection “has changed more than it did over the previous seven years.” For instance, Oakley notes that XProtect scans the Mac at least once a day “during periods of low user activity.” The frequency can change depending on the situation, and the malware scan can run up to every hour.
Previously, macOS scanned the computer for malware at a much lower frequency and mostly after startup. While the latest updates don’t make macOS immune to malware, the new system definitely makes it more difficult for Mac users to be targeted by such attacks.
Older versions of macOS also get updates
The best part is that even Macs running older versions of macOS benefit from the new version of XProtect. According to the researcher, the update has also been made available for computers running macOS Catalina and later.
As for Macs running even older versions of macOS, Oakley reveals that the last security update for versions between OS X El Capitan and macOS Mojave was released in April 2022. Of course, if you still have a Mac stuck on this software, it might be time to consider upgrading to a new machine, since it seems that Apple will no longer release regular security updates for it.
Earlier today, Apple released iOS 12.5.6 for older devices like iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and the first generation iPad Air. The update fixes two security vulnerabilities that were also fixed for newer devices with iOS 15.6.1.
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