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What Are the Dangers of Using an Unsupported Operating System?

What Are the Dangers of Using an Unsupported Operating System?

2017 is set to be the year that cybersecurity is finally taken more seriously by business’. The number of high profile attacks last year show that businesses should be doing all they can to protect themselves from attacks of this nature. A seemingly obvious and simple place to start is to ensure all software they use is up to date.

However, there is a real struggle to let go of old operating systems. There are still tens of millions of computers running Windows XP, including at two major public organisations, The NHS and The Metropolitan Police, despite the fact it has been out of support for almost three years. Likewise, over half of UK companies are still using Windows Server 2003 despite Microsoft ending support for that 18 months a go.

It seems many organisations are happy to continue maintaining old operating systems to avoid the cost and inconvenience of upgrading. But, what are the dangers of this?

No More Security Patches

While operating systems are in support, the developers will continually be on the look out for new vulnerabilities and patch them accordingly; once the support ends, so do these updates.

This is more risky than most individuals realise; when patches are released, the criminals developing the malicious software will reserve engineer the patch to see what security holes have been plugged. As a result they know exactly how to target those who haven’t updated their system.

Furthermore, the patches released for the latest system versions give hints as to the vulnerabilities of the previous versions.

In fact, only on Friday (13th January) did a report come out that Barts NHS Trust Windows XP PCs had been infected with ransomware.

3rd Party Software Support

Aside from any potential security concerns, the biggest issue with an out of date operating systems is that your business critical software may stop working. Should a new issue arise, you may find that the company who created the software will no longer fix the problem because you are using an obsolete OS.

While migrating to a new OS can take time and money – the cost of doing nothing could be more severe in the long run.

Regulatory Compliance

If you’re a company that deals with sensitive client data – law firms, accountants, medical companies etc. – using an unsupported OS presents a very real risk to your compliance plan – security, stability and cost.

Taking law firms as an example, there is no direct verbiage to say they must keep all software up to date, the Legal Services Act (2007) states they have a duty to maintain client confidentially. Should there be a cyber breach and IT systems were not kept up to date, this could be seen as a firm not doing all they could to maintain this confidentiality.

This is where we come in

Our Cloud Services put the ‘cost and inconvenience’ of maintaining, securing and updating your systems in our hands, leaving you to focus on what is most important, running your business.

If you would like more information about any of our Cloud Services, let us know by emailing sales@itfarm.co.uk or calling 0800 023 9061.

Top 6 small business IT mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Dr James Huntington Managing Director

James is the Founder and Managing Director at IT Farm. His background in Computer Science help lay the foundation for IT Farm to become one of the UK's first Cloud Computing Companies.

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