Danger Lurks If You're Still Using Windows XP - Infinity Network Solutions

As you close in on Spring time, most of your thoughts drift to wonderful spring temperatures, flowers in bloom and backyard barbeques. What you are probably not thinking about is the end of life of your faithful companion, Windows XP. Let’s be honest– Windows XP had a great run and will forever be in our hearts and memories. However, it is time to let go. As of April 8, 2014, Microsoft will end support for the Windows XP operating system and will continue only limited support for anti-malware protection until July 14, 2015.

It is important to understand what this means for you and your organization. After Microsoft ends support, hackers and those writing malicious software will be poised and at the ready. Once support ends, there will be no further security updates for Windows XP. This could become a major liability for any operation. Without security updates, any future security holes will not be plugged and thus will be exploited by hackers.

Even today, XP is much more likely than Windows 7 or Windows 8 to be infected with malicious software. Microsoft researchers have performed studies that show the exposure rates compared to the infection rates for each operating system. It is important to understand that malicious software is written to affect any and all operating systems they encounter. This is evident in the chart below as the exposure rates are even across Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8. However, as you can see below, the infection rate is more than double that of Windows 7 and six times that of Windows 8.

Infection and Encounter Rate Graph

The encounter rates are higher for Windows 7 yet the infection rate is nearly half that of XP.

The reason for the lower infection rates in Windows 7 and Windows 8 are due to Microsoft improving on their anti-malware protection in newer versions of Windows as well as newer technology having better protective measures built into the core operating system. What you also may not know is that Windows XP Service Pack 3 is the only service pack still in support. Looking at historical data, we see that after service pack 2 reached end of life on July 13, 2010, the infection rates increased 66% almost immediately after.

Computers Cleaned per 1000 Graph

After end of life for Windows XP SP2, the infection rates immediately and sharply rose. The drop in infection rates after the immediate spike are likely due to upgrades to Windows XP SP3 as well as removal of Windows XP SP2 workstations.

It is important to understand the risks of continuing with an unsupported and unprotected operating system in any environment but especially for your business. Unprotected operating systems infection rates are seen three times higher than that of protected operating systems. Again, this research was done by Microsoft engineers and can be seen in the chart below. Without support for Windows XP, the updates for their anti-malware software will also stop. This will leave your Windows XP workstations unprotected.

Monthly Average Infection Rates Graph

It is important to have a system that is supported as well as protected by current anti-malware security.

Should you have any questions regarding what this information means for you, please contact your partners at Infinity Network Solutions so we can assist in keeping your organization safe and secure. We would love to talk with you and answer any questions or concerns you have.

All the best,

J. D. Schoepf II

Sources:

Microsoft – Infection Rates and End of Support for Windows XP

Microsoft – Anti-Malware Support for Windows XP