Windows XP: A Clear and Present Danger
Companies need to know that their computers are safe and stable. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure all your machines are running on a modern, supported operating system.
Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP on April 8th 2014. This means they will stop releasing updates and security patches. This means that any new vulnerability discovered in Windows XP after its “end of life” will not be addressed by new security updates. Microsoft will also stop offering free and paid phone and online support for this operating system. In less than seven months, if you are running XP at your business, you will be on your own.
What is the risk of continuing to run Windows XP after its end of support date?
Older, unsupported systems are at a higher risk of being compromised. This can include viruses, spyware, or even an intruder taking control of an affected machine. Attackers have the advantage over Windows XP users. New security issues are identified every day. On a supported version of Windows updates are developed to fix these security holes. With XP there will be no new security updates. Hackers will find new ways to attack your unprotected systems and data and Microsoft will do nothing to prevent it.
For XP users security updates will never become available to address these vulnerabilities. Windows XP will remain vulnerable forever. Between July 2012 and July 2013 Windows XP was an affected product in 45 Microsoft security bulletins. Some compromises are very subtle, but without Microsoft’s proactive support, you might never know that your system is hacked. With XP you can never trust your computer to be secure again. Attackers will be armed with knowledge of exploits in Windows XP that will enable them to compromise your systems, steal your data, and use your computing resources for their criminal enterprises.
Windows XP Service Pack 3 may have been state of the art when it was released over 5 years ago, but the security mitigations built into the OS are no longer sufficient to stop many modern attacks. Malware infection rates for Windows operating systems indicate that the infection rate for Windows XP is significantly higher than those for modern-day operating systems like Windows 7 and Windows 8.
The threats that individuals and organizations face today are much different than they were when Windows XP Service Pack 3 was released. The introduction of Windows Firewall in XP Service Pack 2 and later operating systems forced attackers to evolve their attacks. Hackers changed the way they approached a system. This resulted in an arms race between tech savvy criminals and corporate security experts. The features that are built into Windows XP are the computer equivalent of a prop plane having a dogfight against an F-22 jet fighter.
How can I protect my machines and business?
There are several new versions of Windows that are secure, stable and supported by Microsoft. These new operating systems offer not only great security and performance, but major enhancements to the user experience. Windows 7 is the most popular OS in the world with almost 45% percent of computers using it as of July, 2013. Windows 7 and Windows 8 offer more features, better security, and increased performance over Windows XP.
More importantly Windows 7 is supported until 2020 and Windows 8 to 2023. This means that Microsoft will not only provide new functionality and features for these operating systems, but also security patching. Moving to a modern OS will help keep you safe and secure now and for years to come.