An online article in The Washington Post last week revealed that thousands of PCs in U.S. Government agencies will still be running Windows XP despite a six (6) year heads up from Microsoft that they will end support in on April 8, 2014. The article, “Government computers running Windows XP will be vulnerable to hackers after April 8”, goes on to say that thousands of PCs will be vulnerable on classified and diplomatic networks.
In our view, this is a very serious issue and unfortunately, one that is not isolated to the U.S. Government. Many companies worldwide still have not made the move from Windows XP and are at risk. In another article, this time from AVAST (a leading anti-virus company) says that Windows XP users are six (6) times more likely to be attacked than those using Windows 7.
The implications are staggering. Not only is our Government’s data at risk, but many companies in critical industries such as healthcare and banking are playing with fire by keeping Windows XP-based systems active after April 8, 2014.
Cyber-criminals are counting the days to April 8th, when they’ll “go to work” spreading malware payloads designed to penetrate Government and private industry systems knowing very well that those organizations with XP machines will easily fall. In a few months, I predict that we’ll see even more announcements of security breaches all over the world since this issue is a worldwide problem.
We’ve all heard about the many cyber-attacks perpetrated by hostile foreign powers against our Country. Apparently, this is a common occurrence. My question is: “Why wouldn’t our Government have taken the necessary actions to strengthen cyber-defenses by upgrading the Operating Systems on all of their workstations?” Keeping Windows XP systems active after April 8th is pure madness. Why?
Government officials and many industry executives must soon make some hard decisions to protect the vast amount of data in their systems. A security breach will cause countless, everyday people to go through the agony of repairing the damage caused by the leakage of their confidential data and in our Government’s case, classified information that can have serious implications to National Security.
It has been 12 years since Windows XP was introduced to the world. It was a good run, but now it’s over and time to let it go! Government, industry, and ordinary people need to move away from Windows XP and upgrade to more secure operating systems.
Even after reading all of this, if you still decide to keep using Windows XP (a very bad decision), then you should at least know how to better protect yourself. PCWorld has a great article called “How to keep your PC secure when Microsoft ends Windows XP support”. Read it and follow the advice. The tips may not save you, but they’ll help. Good luck — you’ll need it!
April 8th is just around the corner. It’s decision time. Retire your Windows XP systems.