Author Gary Hibberd
First published: March 24 2014
Is there anyone out there still running the operating system Windows XP? Or how about Microsoft office 2003?
If you’re using one or both of these then please make sure that you mark the 8th April 2014 in your diary. It’s a significant date and not for a good thing.
On 8th April support for these systems will expire. No more security patches. No more ‘bug’ fixes. Microsoft have been telling us this since 2007 so saying “I didn’t know” really isn’t an excuse you can use. Having said this, there are fears that some public sector operations such as schools, hospitals, government agencies and local councils have yet to upgrade. So if you haven’t then you’re in good company.
What will happen?
The shock news is; On April 8th 2014 nothing will happen! But that’s the problem. No more security updates. No more ‘bug fixes’ for Microsoft Office 2003 or Windows XP. This means that after this date your systems are at risk from several directions;
Businesses that are governed by regulatory obligations such as the FCA and SRA may find that they are no longer able to satisfy compliance requirements to demonstrate proper Risk Management is in place. In addition those businesses who hold ISO standards such as ISO 27001 (Information Security Management), ISO 22301 (Business Continuity) or ISO 9001 (Quality Management) will need to think about how they can demonstrate compliance with standards that require them to have good risk management in place and patch management (for security and updates).
We all know there are those on the web looking for ways to break into systems and/or create harmful viruses, spyware and other malicious software. After the 8th April there job becomes far easier. Without critical Windows XP security updates your PC may be exposed to these risks which can leave your business vulnerable to theft, or damage your business data and information.
Worryingly anti-virus software and other tools used to protect you from these threats will also not be able to fully protect you once Windows XP itself is unsupported.
Software Vendor & Hardware Support
Many software vendors will no longer support their products running on Windows XP as they will be unable to receive Windows XP updates and most PC hardware manufacturers will stop supporting Windows XP on new hardware.
What does this mean?
To put It bluntly, if you’re running Windows XP and/or Office 2003 after the 8th April – you’re on your own!
Once a security flaw or bug is discovered you’re open to attack, your system will ultimately stop working as you’ll be unable to upgrade your hardware or other proprietary software and your compliance risks will escalate.
What should you do?
Firstly, don’t panic! Take action – but take it now! Ensure those in your business are aware of this. Ask questions at your next board meeting of the person responsible for IT. I don’t say this often, but this time it really is an IT issue.
It is important that you migrate to a current supported operating system (e.g. Windows 8.1) – so you can receive regular security updates to protect your systems from malicious attacks and ensure your business remains compliant with regulations and standards.
Depending upon your business this can be a large or small undertaking. But either way it needs to be planned and budgeted for. The warning bells have been ringing since 2007 so I’m sure you’ve been budgeting and planning all the way. But if you haven’t… you’d better start now.
If you need some help, get in touch – I know some great IT guys. But if you decide to “wait and see” then feel free to get in touch WHEN you have your security breach or visit from the regulators. I’ll be waiting for your call. Good luck.
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