MILLIONS OF WEB USERS are unknowingly exposing themselves to unnecessary risk from 600,000 web-facing machines still running Windows Server 2003.
Microsoft ended support for the popular server OS on 14 July, but a month later an alarming number of sites have failed to upgrade, meaning that a fifth of the internet is still running the unsupported server.
To put it another way, Netcraft, which collated the figures, reckons that 175 million websites are directly served from a Server 2003 computer.
After the lack of a tech-pocalypse after Windows XP, many senior managers have taken a lot of convincing that there is a problem in not updating to the latest version of Windows Server, and budgets to upgrade have not been given priority.
In reality, the risk is far greater, as a server infection to a high-profile website leaves every single visitor at risk.
High-profile companies on Netcraft's list include NatWest, ING Direct and Panda Security, an actual anti-malware provider.
Adrian Foxall, CEO at Camwood, told us in the run up to Server 2003's end of life: "One reason is that Server 2003 just isn’t ‘interesting’ enough. Server maintenance isn’t user-facing, it’s considered a back-end process and therefore somewhat invisible to the majority of people and organisations it will impact."
The geographic breakdown shows that the majority of computers running Server 2003 are in the US and China. The Alibaba Group is responsible for 31,500 of them, including 7,500 in Aliyun, its cloud hosting division.
Perhaps most alarming of all on the list is LivePerson, a third-party solution that provides live chat for customer services at many major organisations. This means that a company's site might be safe, but its customer service department could be leaving people to get infected as they're complaining - a potential PR nightmare.
Microsoft's out-of-range support costs a rumoured $600 a machine, so the potential cost for those who ignored the opportunity to get on a migration path in good time is getting huge, whatever they decide to do. µ
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