Windows XP not dead yet—but users Beware

Would you reasonably expect success when attempting to drive cross country in a 1975 Pinto with balled tires, no brakes, dried cracked belts and with already 250k on the motor? You might if you didn’t stop and think about things.

winxpThe same is true of an individual or a business who’s still using a Windows XP operating system on devices that have even 1 megabyte of sensitive data. You cannot reasonably expect security with one of the most hacked operating systems in existence.

But I digress. Fret not, there’s temporary hope yet for Windows XP procrastinators: Microsoft is extending support into 2015. It was previously believed that April 8, 2014 was the end of the world for support towards MS Security Essentials, System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Endpoint Protection and Forefront Client Security.

This meant that on that date, new malware signatures plus engine updates to XP users would cease, even though updates for the same software that was running on Windows Vista would continue to be provided.

However, a recent blog post by Microsoft’s Malware Protection Center notes that XP users will continue receiving support—but it won’t last long: July 14, 2015 will be here before business owners know it.

With hackers swarming in like killer bees, knowing that XP’s support’s days are limited, XP users must stay in heavyweight mode for any attacks. Thieves can even use new security updates for Windows Vista (and later) as a guide to hacking into systems running on XP.

Anti-malware solutions aren’t very effective on operating systems that lack support, and hackers know this. But more alarming is that fewer users, including business owners, are ready to accept this or even have a clue about it.

After all, it’s estimated that almost 30 percent of all the personal computers across the world are using Windows XP. Business owners and other decision makers of organizations need to overestimate just how risky it is to cling onto an old favorite rather than promptly switch to a new system that has stronger support.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to AllClearID. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.