- Microsoft to axe Windows XP support
- Patches are the proof that security vulnerabilities continue to be found in all software
- No new security patches could lead to Hacker's field day
- April 14th 2014 is D-Day
Microsoft have confirmed they have no plans to extend the deadline to the ending of support for Windows XP users past April 8th 2014 and this could lead to a few nasty shocks for those that are still using the XP operating system after that date.
The news that support is to end on 8th April next year should come as no surprise to users as Microsoft have been advertising this since 2008, but as many as 38.99% of PC’s still used Windows XP as an operating system as of the end of February 2013. Some businesses are resisting upgrading to Windows 7 or Windows 8, believing either that Microsoft can be pressured into extending this deadline or that there will be no problems for users. After all, Microsoft will have had thirteen years since the launch of XP to iron out the little bugs, right?
The software patches that you are regularly released and which the diligent user ensures are installed on their computers are commonly security patches. Hackers are constantly looking for flaws within the code of operating systems and other software and the software providers, such as Microsoft, are constantly trying to keep ahead of the hackers either by identifying the flaws first or by reacting very quickly to security breaches. Secunia's Vulnerability Review 2013 report reveals that 84% of security breaches were patches within twenty-four hours in 2012.
The fact that these patches exist is proof absolute that no vendors’ products are 100% secure. Every operating system, every major piece of software that you use, is made up of, quite literally, millions of lines of code. The code is designed to be functional and good programmers know how to work certain precautions into their work, but with the sheer volume of the code there are bound to be flaws. When you add into this that many hackers are also top class programmers who are looking for new ways to get around security protocols you see that the aim of 100% security is, at present, little more than a pipe dream.
So the fact that Microsoft will no longer be offering support for XP after 8th April 2014 means that hackers and malware writers will see this as an opportunity to exploit weaknesses in the system knowing that there work is not going to be opposed. Indeed, at the same time that users will be losing vendor support from Microsoft they are likely to see an increase in the amount of malware attacks and other security threats.
We cannot tell you what to do, but if your business is reliant on having internet-capable computers then we would strongly suggest you review your decisions to keep using XP after April 8th next year.
If you need more information on Cyber Security the UK IT Association has an expert group of cyber security specialists who can give you the advice you need.
Keep up to date with all of the latest IT developments by connecting with UKITA.