How the Windows XP Retirement will affect you and what you can do about it?
For many businesses and individuals operating on Windows XP, the countdown to April 8th 2014 may seem like a time bomb waiting to go off.
The retirement of its most popular operating system to date (and it still holds 31.22% of the market!) means that Microsoft will no longer provide XP users security updates or technical assistance … and likewise, support for Office 2003 will also end as well.
The ramifications of this can be catastrophic for those who are either unprepared or unwilling to make the necessary changes to update their systems: not only will they compromise their security but performance capabilities as well.
What will the Windows XP Retirement mean for your business ?
Don’t panic! The end of support does not mean Windows XP workstations will stop working: they will continue to work. The risk is … if a new flaw is discovered after April 8th 2014, Microsoft will not provide a security update for this. Hackers will then be able to target this new flaw and potentially infect your Windows XP machine. They may also be able to target your network and obtain confidential information, or as is more popular now – encrypt your network drives and demand payment to supply the key to unencrypt your data.
Other things that will occur:
- Drivers for new hardware will no longer support Windows XP. For example, your new printer, Video card or 3G/4G USB Dongle may not work.
- Upgrades for new software will no longer support Windows XP even if the software does appear to still run on it. Software vendors will no longer test the product on Windows XP.
- Line of Business Application Vendors will use this as an opportunity to push companies to upgrade to their newer platforms and solutions. Similarly, security vendors will move to stop supporting XP – due to the increased risk.
Be aware that using Windows XP after this date does have risks associated with it AND Microsoft are very clear on your options:
- Upgrade your current PC to Windows 8.1: Older XP machines will unlikely meet the minimum requirements; or
- Get a New PC
But I Still Need Windows XP – what can I do?
Your budget may not allow you to upgrade all your workstations to new ones OR you may have applications that will only run on Windows XP. Well, there is some great news: there are options which may extend the life of your Windows XP workstation, but I must reiterate again: these are taken at your own risk. The only solutions supported by Microsoft are the two outlined above.
Line of Business Applications that only run on XP, Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise editions have a feature called Windows XP Mode. As Microsoft state “it’s the best of both worlds: The new Windows XP Mode lets you run older Windows XP business software right on your Windows 7 desktop.”
This means … you can run a fully legal version of Windows XP in Virtual Mode on your Windows 7 Desktop. This won’t work for all Windows XP legacy applications but it may work for yours. Mind you the same limitations and security risks are still associated with this copy of Windows XP, but it is – to a degree – shielded by Windows 7.
If you must keep running Windows XP, there are ways to limit hacker activity or infection:
- If the XP Machines are located on a Business network – ensure you have a firewall and the subscription services associated with that firewall are current and up to date. By doing this you will filter out a lot of the potential threats prior to them reaching the XP machine.
- Ensure you have a current antivirus security suite installed on the XP Machine. This will detect many exploits and have processes in place to limit the access hackers will have to your computer. Although this will only be available for a short term, as developers of this software will soon stop support of Windows XP.
- It is not just security flaws within Windows XP that allow hackers into your workstation. Often it is flaws in other software. This may be products like your web browser, pdf reading software, video or photo editing software and even Microsoft Office itself. You need to ensure this software is always kept up to date.
- MS Office 2003: If you are running this on Windows XP – the risk is increased as this will no longer be updated with security patches. This expires on the same date as Windows XP. If you are running a later ‘supported’ version such as Office 2007, 2010 – then office patches will still be available.
- Install another browser – Internet explorer in XP will no longer have any updates, but other browsers such as Firefox or Chrome will continue to run on Windows XP and will continue to have updates.
- If you’re on a business network – lock all the XP workstations down so they do not have local administrator access. This restricts programs from installing, unless of course there is an existing security flaw.
- Have a good image backup process in place. This will allow you to restore back to an earlier version of your XP workstation, if any corruption or infection occurs.
- Make sure you have a good backup system and routine in place for all of your network servers. However, there is still a risk that a hacker may gain access through an XP security flaw.
- If you are running Vista or Windows 7 and have Office 2003 installed, upgrade to a later version of Office to keep your workstation secure.
For further information on this topic, please take a look at our January 2014 newsletter HERE.
Remember … every company is different. A simple IT solution may be all you need to ensure your company and computing system can run effectively and safely after the 8th April 2014. This is why Nortec IT are offering a FREE Microsoft Risk Assessment And Migration Plan that enables you to plan ahead for the Windows XP Retirement.
Nortec can conduct an audit to arm you with the information and facts you need to best address this situation. During this assessment, you will receive:
- A Customised Migration Plan that shows how to painlessly upgrade your old Office 2003 and XP machines. If it is deemed appropriate for your business, you will also receive information on how you can upgrade your old machines AND eliminate the need to spend a small fortune on new hardware and software.
- Plus you’ll also receive a FREE analysis of your computer network aimed to expose any security risks and issues, and provide ways to make your business FAR more efficient and productive.
For further information and to take advantage of this audit, please call us today on 02 98949514.