After 13 years, Microsoft is pulling the plug on its most popular operating system. As of April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates, patches, or other support for Windows XP. According to some estimates, nearly a third of all PCs are still running XP.
So, what does this mean for you if you and your business? In short, it could leave your data vulnerable. Here's how:
The Endâ€”What It Means
Because Microsoft will no longer be providing updates, cyber criminals may be able to find weaknesses in the system and exploit them. Since Windows XP shares some of the same vulnerabilities as Microsoft's newer operating systems, it is likely that hackers will be able to reverse engineer the updates that come out for Windows 7 and 8 in order to design attacks for XP.
Potential threats from cyber criminals:
- Data theft
- Denial of service attacks
- Finesâ€”businesses that lose confidential data could be held legally liable
Businesses that are still running XP will also need to provide their own support if something goes wrong. This could lead to you playing IT catch-up, rather than focusing on your core competencies.
What You Can Do
If you are still running XP, don't delay. You have less than a month to make the change, and you need to plan and execute your Windows migration as soon as possible.
Steps you can take to get ready:
- Back up all your data before beginning the migration process.
- Replace hardware as needed. If your PCs are too old to handle a new OS, look into purchasing new or refurbished computers with Windows 7 or 8.
- Plan for software transitions. Find out if you need to do anything to make sure that your essential programs still work.
- Look into tools and solutions that can help you automate the process. Since you don't have much time, it may be a good idea to get as much help as you can get.
What If You Still Need XP?
If you are committed to running XP on some of your machines or if you need more time to make the upgrade, here's what you can do to prepare:
- Download all patches and updates.
- Install firewalls and security features.
- Disconnect from the internet, if at all possible.
This issue is seriousâ€”you need to make sure that you are prepared when April 8 hits. Staying safe is essential for your businesses data. Not to mention, the fines you may incur should your data be breached while you are using XP. The US Government has said they will issue fines for companies who knowingly didn’t migrate in time.
What are you doing to get ready for the end of XP?
Matt Smith works for Dell and has a passion for learning and writing about technology. Outside of work he enjoys entrepreneurship, being with his family, and the outdoors.