Hopefully you’ve heard by now, Microsoft has today ended support for Windows XP. This is not an overnight announcement, it’s been a long time coming. For the many who are still using Windows XP there is a big burning question – what do I do?

Bliss - the iconic Windows XP Desktop photo

Bliss – the iconic Windows XP Desktop photo

What does it mean?

Microsoft have been finding and fixing possible security vulnerabilities with Windows XP from day one. That’s why regularly you’ll have been prompted to perform a “Windows Update”. In these updates you’ve been getting little patches and plugs for the small (or large) holes which otherwise might have allowed hackers to get access to your computer.

That all ends today. If a hole is found Microsoft won’t be plugging it. It could be that Cybercrims and Hackers have been holding some vulnerabilities close to their chest and have waited for this day to pounce – so the action might start immediately.

My Business is running Windows XP

If you’re running a small business and Windows XP is part of your network, you need to make an urgent plan to upgrade either the operating system or ideally the computer itself.

There is protection you can get in the interim by way of internet security software and hardware based firewall protection, however with a network of computers which perhaps are a mix of XP and other operating systems, you really need to eliminate the greatest risk, and that is your Windows XP machine.

My Corporation is running Windows XP

If you’re reading this and your corporation doesn’t have a plan to upgrade from XP – you need to knock on the door of the IT manager and ask why? Corporations with huge numbers of computers and large amounts of software are a difficult upgrade, but a necessary one. It’s the small business example multiplied so there is no time to delay – the plan should already be well underway.

My Specialist PC is running Windows XP

Let’s say you have a piece of equipment, a lathe that runs off a computer, some sort of fancy printing machine. If that computer is running well, and is not connected to the internet – you don’t have a whole lot to worry about. It’s likely you have never updated it over the course of its life – so one more year won’t hurt. However, moving files via USB and other media can be a method of infection, so check with the equipment maker about compatibility with newer operating systems – and make a plan to update.

My family computer is running Windows XP

Make a plan to upgrade your operating system or buy a new PC. You have to do it at some stage.

In the meantime, you can give yourself some peace of mind with a strong internet security software package. Norton, McAfee, Trend Micro and Kaspersky all provide great software. Keep it up to date and pay for the coverage, it’s going to be your only level of protection now.

As Kaspersky Lab told EFTM:

“Our security solutions will continue to protect Windows XP systems beyond the Microsoft cut-off date, in accordance with Kaspersky Lab’s scheduled product life cycles. During this period of extended support, Kaspersky Lab products installed on Windows XP machines will continue to receive the latest malware signature updates.

The extension of Kaspersky Lab’s support should provide ample time for these customers to migrate to a modern operating system.”

My Kids computer is running Windows XP

If the computer is not connected to the internet, the risk is low. Keep it offline and it will run until it just stops working (or more likely the kids demand an upgrade!)

The bottom line

Your computer is at risk, and you need to upgrade. However, it won’t stop working today – so don’t panic. Just make a plan to upgrade ok?

If you’ve got a question or concern – Email Trevor Long – let’s talk and try to help.