End of Windows XP support spells trouble for some

Comment: Off

FILE – In this Oct. 25, 2001 file photo, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates stands in New York’s Times Square to promote the new Windows XP operating system. On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, Microsoft will end support for its still popular Windows XP. With an estimated 30 percent of businesses and consumers still using the 12-year-old operating system, the move could put everything from the data of major financial institutions to the identities of everyday people in danger if they don’t find a way to upgrade soon. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

FILE – In this Oct. 25, 2001 file photo, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates stands in New York’s Times Square to promote the new Windows XP operating system. On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, Microsoft will end support for its still popular Windows XP. With an estimated 30 percent of businesses and consumers still using the 12-year-old operating system, the move could put everything from the data of major financial institutions to the identities of everyday people in danger if they don’t find a way to upgrade soon. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

FILE – In this Oct. 25, 2001 file photo, then Microsoft chairman Bill Gates speaks during the product launch of the new Windows XP operating system in New York. Gates touted the software as the harbinger of a new era in more Internet-centric computing. On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, Microsoft will end support for its still popular Windows XP. With an estimated 30 percent of businesses and consumers still using the 12-year-old operating system, the move could put everything from the data of major financial institutions to the identities of everyday people in danger if they don’t find a way to upgrade soon. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

FILE – This July 22, 2009 file photo shows a Windows XP logo on a Hewlett Packard Laptop at a Best Buy in Mountain View, Calif. On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, Microsoft will end support for its still popular Windows XP. With an estimated 30 percent of businesses and consumers still using the 12-year-old operating system, the move could put everything from the data of major financial institutions to the identities of everyday people in danger if they don’t find a way to upgrade soon. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

FILE – In this Oct. 25, 2006 file photo, the logo for Microsoft Corp.’s Media Center Edition of the Windows XP operating system is displayed on a screen at a CompUSA store in Bellevue, Wash. On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, Microsoft will end support for its still popular Windows XP. With an estimated 30 percent of businesses and consumers still using the 12-year-old operating system, the move could put everything from the data of major financial institutions to the identities of everyday people in danger if they don’t find a way to upgrade soon. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

FILE – In this Nov. 8 2001 file photo, workers install a 10-story Windows XP banner on a hotel near the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas. On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, Microsoft will end support for its still popular Windows XP. With an estimated 30 percent of businesses and consumers still using the 12-year-old operating system, the move could put everything from the data of major financial institutions to the identities of everyday people in danger if they don’t find a way to upgrade soon. (AP Photo/Joe Cavaretta, File)

Buy AP Photo Reprints

NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft will end support for the persistently popular Windows XP on Tuesday, and with an estimated 30 percent of businesses and consumers still using the 12-year-old operating system, the move could put everything from the operations of heavy industry to the identities of everyday people in danger.

“What once was considered low-hanging fruit by hackers now has a big neon bull’s eye on it,” says Patrick Thomas, a security consultant at the San Jose, Calif.-based firm Neohapsis.

Microsoft has released a handful of Windows operating systems since 2001, but XP’s popularity and the durability of the computers it was installed on kept it around longer than expected. Analysts say that if a PC is more than five years old, chances are it’s running XP.

While users can still run XP after Tuesday, Microsoft says it will no longer provide new security updates, issued fixes to non-security related problems or offer online technical content updates. The Redmond, Wash.-based company says it will provide anti-malware-related updates through July 14, 2015, but warns that the tweaks could be of limited help on an outdated operating system.

Most industry observers say they recognize that the time for Microsoft to end support for such a dated system has come, but the move poses both security and operational risks for the remaining users. In addition to home computers, XP is used to run everything from water treatment facilities and power plants to small businesses like doctor’s offices.

Thomas says XP appealed to a wide variety of people and businesses that saw it as a reliable workhorse and many chose to stick with it instead of upgrading to Windows Vista, Windows 7 or 8.

Thomas notes that companies that don’t like risk, generally don’t like change. As a result, companies most likely to still be using XP include banks and financial services companies, along with health care providers. He also pointed to schools from the university level down, saying that they often don’t have enough money to fund equipment upgrades.

Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes, says that without patches to fix bugs in the software XP PCs will be prone to freezing up and crashing, while the absence of updated security related protections make the computers susceptible to hackers.

He added that future security patches released for Microsoft’s newer systems will serve as a way for nefarious people to reverse engineer ways to breach now-unprotected Windows XP computers.

“It’s going to be interesting to say the least,” he says. “There

Comments

comments

About the Author