Time For An Upgrade! Microsoft Stops Windows XP Support, Making The System Vulnerable To Hackers

April 10, 2014  |  

If you’re still using Windows XP, you’re out in the cold. Microsoft has ceased offering support for the outdated software and, according to Microsoft’s research, Windows XP computers are six times more likely to get infected because there will be no more updates to patch holes in the system that can be exploited by hackers.

Granted the operating system is now 12 years old, but this news is leaving many worried about cyberattacks. Microsoft will no longer provide security updates that patch holes in the software so if hackers find bugs in XP, they will be able to exploit them easily. Many are concerned since Windows XP is still widely used on devices that store sensitive data and by computers controlling municipal lights and water.

What’s even more troubling, an estimated 95 percent of bank ATMs operate on XP. “GE Intelligent Platforms, which sells industrial software, discovered 75 percent of its utility customers still use it. Cybersecurity provider Cylance says one of its clients is a major hospital where XP is still on more than 100,000 devices, including computers that hold patient records,” reports CNNMoney.

And according to Greg Rosenberg, a security engineer at Trustwave, point-of-sale systems at about 30 percent of retail stores. Remember Target’s massive security breach? It could happen again.

Those still using the old system are advised to upgrade. Select an operating system that still receives updates from Microsoft, the best option being Windows 8. Microsoft will reportedly continue to support it until 2023.

Microsoft will be adding Windows 8’s missing start button in the next update. The company is also giving away $100 in credits for new PCs.

XP users are already migrating to newer systems. “From early 2013 to 2014, the share of computers using XP dropped from 35 percent to 14 percent, according to cloud security provider Qualys,” reports CNN. That number is expected to drop to 10 percent by the end of April.

Transportation and health care sectors slashed their Windows XP usage a great deal. The Defense, Labor and Home Security departments have been spending millions to upgrade from XP, found a CNNMoney review.

Experts advise even small business owners to invest in an upgrade. “The majority of folks in these industries aren’t technical. They want to serve food, sell widgets and keep doors open,” said Trustwave director Christopher Pogue. “If there are vulnerabilities identified, there’s going to be no defending against it.”

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