America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilisation in between. - Oscar Wilde
IN ITS ALMOST DAILY EFFORT to convince Windows XP die-hards to finally give up their old machines, Microsoft has posted a security advisory about all the terrible things that might happen after it switches off Windows XP support on 8 April.
In a very lengthy post on the Microsoft security blog titled 'Cyber threats to Windows XP and guidance for Small Businesses and Individual Consumers', Tim Rains, director of the Redmond firm's Trustworthy Computing Group, lays out five fearsome threats facing Windows XP users.
These risks are: surfing the web; opening email or using instant messaging; using removable drives; worms and ransomware. Rains also offers some pretty standard advice on how to deal with these threats.
According to Rains, large organisations are leading the way with XP migrations - though clearly this doesn't extend to the UK public sector.
"Many of the enterprise customers I've talked to recently have finished, or are in the process of finishing, technology projects that move their desktop computing environments from Windows XP to Windows 7 or Windows 8," he noted.
"However, I've also talked to some small businesses and individuals that don’t plan to replace their Windows XP systems even after support for these systems ends in April. In light of this, I want to share some of the specific threats to Windows XP-based systems that attackers may attempt after support ends, so that these customers can understand the risks and hopefully decide to immediately upgrade to a more secure version of Windows, or accelerate existing plans to do so."
Rains also wants XP users to understand that compared to 2001 when XP was released, cyber threats have advanced and become much more sophisticated, as script kiddies have evolved into criminals motivated by money.
So what's the overall message of all this? "The primary thrust of our advice is clear: the best option is to migrate to a modern operating system like Windows 7 or Windows 8 that have a decade of evolved security mitigations built in and will be supported after April 8, 2014," Rains explained.
And handily for Microsoft partners, Rains also points out that the ultimate security on offer is from buying some new kit to go with your new version of Windows.
"We recommend purchasing modern hardware – from touch laptops to tablets to all-in-ones – to take full advantage of the features and touch-based user interface available in Windows 8 or later systems. Modern devices are not only faster and have greater performance than devices running older operating systems, but come with greater security features, new and improved networking tools for when you're on the go, modern apps and more," he noted. µ
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