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Windows XP is dead – and that’s good. Like Mikko Hyppönen explained a year ago; the difference in the default security level of 64-bit Windows 8 is so much ahead of Windows XP that you can’t even compare them.
The end-of-life for Windows XP was a year ago, on 8 April, 2014. Yet, despite the missing support and updates, and the inferior security level of XP compared to the later operating systems, about 12% of machines run Windows XP globally. In Europe, this is slightly lower, but still amounts to about 10%.
Running old software is a huge security risk. Microsoft clearly states: “An unsupported version of Windows will no longer receive software updates from Windows Update. These include security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software, which can steal your personal information.”
The who and why behind online attacks has changed a lot since Windows XP was introduced. Attacks are no longer conducted by someone who just likes to see what he can do for the fun of it. The field is totally different – with organized criminals, hacktivists, and even governments spying on companies and looking into their confidential data. Business security has to be taken seriously – any company can be a target of opportunity.
When the end-of-life for Windows XP approached a year ago, Forrester analyst David Johnson says “The reality is, the absence of patches for Windows XP just exposes companies to risk“. He also noted that companies must be mindful not only of security concerns, but also of compliance obligations.
Windows XP is now a permanent, ongoing “zero day” vulnerability. With no patches around, it is a permanent threat to the users, and even to others. TK Keanini, CTO of Lancope explains: “Everyone needs to do their part to get rid of it, because if we don’t, in this connected world, it will ultimately be a bad thing for everyone.” The risk comes obvious when looking at an example posted in the Spiceworks community: 10-15 minutes online with one XP machine, and almost 800 items found a month later in a scan…