The End of Windows XP Support May Mean Security Vulnerabilities

There is no denying that Windows XP is still viewed as the best operating system for most Windows users. This can be chopped down to the high security, customization options, or just the basic look and feel that it offers. In the view of many, possibly the majority, it may be an older operating system but it sure outshines Windows 8.

windows xp

This image may soon be a thing of the past

Its popularity is a discussion for another day though. What has become increasingly important to discuss is the potential vulnerabilities that are arising as a result of sticking with this operating system. It’s not fair to the XP loyalists, but they are no longer entitled to the same level of support as users of more recent Windows operating systems.

Windows XP support being dropped is noticed all around. For instance, ATMs still using Windows XP will find themselves in need of a software update. Typical computer users will also find themselves facing the question of whether they want to continue forward with an unsupported Windows operating system.

There’s not much time to decide though – the official support drop takes place on April 8, 2014.

What does an unsupported operating system mean?

An unsupported operating system is just that, it’s unsupported. In the case of Windows XP, support is dropped by Microsoft. This means that there will be no provided updates, patches, or anything else to help Windows XP users.

This comes at a big cost to XP users. It means that whomever is running this operating system on their computer will need to practically know how to spot future exploits of their operating system and then patch them.

Of course, it is not reasonable to believe that the average individual will know how to maintain their operating system properly. However, Microsoft has stated that patches and updates will be provided at a premium, but with a price tag of approximately $200 for the first year and for only one system, it’s not feasible for many.

Here are five suggestions for anyone that is affected by the Windows XP support drop.

1) Change your operating system

There are some businesses that find themselves looking for fixes and changes to their current operating system, but they could do fine by upgrading or changing out their operating system. As getting rid of Windows XP is necessary at some point in time anyway, businesses are starting to make the change.

Changing your operating system does not mean that you have to stick yourself with Windows 8. In fact, you could easily pick up a copy of Windows Vista or Windows 7 and get a much similar feel to Windows XP.

2) Order Custom Support

$200 per year per system is outrageous for most people. In fact, it’s near impossible for many businesses. However, it may still be a feasible option if you are a major XP loyalist. At this price-point, you can continue using Windows XP with no concerns. However, there is no telling if this custom support will be dropped after the first year or later in the future.

3) Manage Your Upgrades

It may not necessarily make sense to upgrade every single system that your business owns. For example, you may have hundreds of computers and only a couple dozen of them are even used to browse the Internet. You could easily upgrade your main computers and keep your XP systems until a later time, even if without any support.

If you go this route and you are worried about vulnerabilities, then you will want to begin by upgrading your computers in the order of most to least sensitive – by means of data stored and transmitted.

4) Secure Your XP Systems Offline

You can create complete security for your Windows XP computers by making a full disconnect from the network. You will also want to restrict access from media that can be removed in any fashion.

Basically, you will need to block out any external and internal communications. So no Internet access or connection and no access through ports or protocols. A wide range of methods can be used to do this, such as restricting proxies, setting firewall rules for the network, and using isolated VLANs.

Still, isolating your systems will be a pain and it can get costly so you may be better off upgrading.

5) Upgrade from Windows XP Mode in Windows 7

It is important to also note that anyone using Windows XP mode in Windows 7 will need to upgrade or make the same decision as anyone using the normal Windows XP operating system. This is because the same potential vulnerabilities will exist for Windows XP mode users.

Protect Yourself Today

Malware developers are just waiting on April 8 to roll by. There is no denying that they likely have a plethora of bugs and viruses to spew onto Windows XP users through undiscovered weak spots in the operating system.

If you don’t make an effort to protect yourself through a better or more secured operating system, then you are exposing yourself to a world of yet-to-surface vulnerabilities. Make the effort to restrict these from affecting you so your operating system is safe to use.