Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Windows XP 2001-2014 R.I.P.


Today, after almost 13 years in service, Microsoft has ended support for Windows XP. Don’t worry if your computer is running XP it will still be booting, however it is likely to become an easy target for viruses and hackers, as there’ll be no more security updates for the operating system.

Popular ‘till the end

Windows XP has undoubtedly been one of the most popular operating systems of Microsoft. In fact, even on its death bed, XP’s still enjoying over 27% market share, according to Netmarketshare.

Despite the fact that the end didn’t come out of the blue, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of organisations that have no other option, but to pay for custom support. Otherwise, they’d be exposed to huge risks.

The UK government is one of the entities paying Microsoft a huge sum, £5.5m to be exact, for an extra year of support on Windows XP. And according to the latest news, the Dutch government is following the British lead. The amount in the Dutch case is unknown, but reports claim that the government owns 35,000-40,000 PCs running XP, and Microsoft is likely to charge around £160 per computer for tailored support.

Continue at your own risk

Because there’ll be no more official security updates and fixes, security firms are warning you that using XP can place your PC and data at increased risk of infection and compromise by cyber-thieves.

According to research by security firm Kaspersky, users running Windows XP already faced a disproportionate risk of falling victim to malware. Senior research analyst Dave Emm said: "Our data indicates that less than one fifth of our customers run Windows XP but more than a quarter of infections are Windows XP-based".

He also added: "Effectively, every vulnerability discovered after 8 April will become a zero-day vulnerability - that is, one for which there is not and never will be, a patch".

Private users are not the only ones at risk

As we mentioned in an earlier post, many of the world's ATMs are still running Windows XP, which puts them at significant risk.

According to the German AV-Test group, "Malware writers go for the low hanging fruits because it's a lot easier to infect systems running on an old Windows XP operating system compared to brand-new Windows 8.1, with all its built-in security features”. Therefore, banks should come up with rock solid safety measures, in order to prevent breaches to the systems of their cash machines.

Upgrade now

If you or your company are still using Windows XP, we strongly recommend you to take action now and upgrade through Microsoft’s Get Modern initiative.

About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.