When Support for Windows XP, first launched in 2001, came to an end on 8th April 2014 hundreds of millions of desktops and laptops were rendered vulnerable to hackers.
Earlier this year Microsoft issued a warning that hackers could use patches for Windows 7 or Windows 8 to scout for XP exploits, reverse engineering the updates and finding the vulnerabilities within XP.
In fact, they highlighted the fact that XP shared 30 security holes with Windows 7 and Windows 8 between July 2012 and July 2013.
Putting your business at risk
Less than a month after end-of-life, the first major vulnerability allowed hackers to take control of user settings and gain access rights to data.
The threat was so significant that governments issued advice and it was described by our security partner, Sophos, as a ‘security advisory of the heart dropping sort’. And as a one-off, Microsoft relented and issued what is likely to be the final update for the XP operating system.
However, Microsoft has since announced numerous fixes for its various software products, but users of Windows XP have been warned they will get no patches for any vulnerabilities – you can follow our blog to keep up to date with the latest on Windows XP and a whole host of technology issues.
It’s clear that failure to migrate to a new operating system could leave businesses open to infections, denial of service (DOS) attacks and data thefts.
However, what’s of greater concern is that businesses could leave themselves open to fines imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office under data protection laws, particularly in relation to secure storage of credit card information.
Thankfully, most SMEs won’t face the challenges that large corporations have to deal with considering Microsoft’s suggestion that migration could take up to 30 months to complete.
Some may look at mitigating risk by removing vulnerable PCs from the internet, however, even if a device is only on a private network, there is still a possibility that other, fully supported, devices connected to the outside world could bring malware into the network and impact on machines running XP. And that’s when it becomes difficult to break the vicious cycle of infection.
In this video from Microsoft, take a look at what happens when no more security updates are
released for Windows XP, and the benefits of upgrading: