As we mentioned at the beginning of 2019, after 14th January 2020, Microsoft stopped providing security updates or support for PCs running Windows 7, making any user – personal or business – significantly more susceptible to malware attacks.
Why is this important?
Using a supported Operating System is the number 1 recommendation from the UK Gov’s National Cyber Security Centre to keep a business secure.
As Microsoft say in their article on what this means, “An unsupported version of Windows will no longer receive software updates from Windows Update. These updates include security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal your personal information. Windows Update also installs the latest software updates to improve the reliability of Windows – such as new drivers for your hardware”.
Many of you may remember when Windows XP went out of support in 2014. It wasn’t long after that before exploitation of the final version of the platform became fairly widespread.
Malware can spread much more easily on obsolete platforms because, without security updates, known vulnerabilities will remain un-patched. As a result, it’s crucial to move away from them as quickly as possible.
It’s also a requirement of GDPR to be responsible with individuals’ data. Using an out of support operating system puts this data at increased risk of data breach, public embarrassment, and a large fine from the ICO.
So, what will happen when support ends in January 2020?
Despite its age (Windows 7 is now over 12 years old), at the time of writing, 27% of PCs are still running Windows 7 due to its popularity. This is a huge target for criminals. Attackers will likely already be sat on security exploits, knowing if they use them now, they will be fixed by Microsoft. If they wait just a few months more, they will be able to use them knowing that there will be absolutely no defence against them.
We strongly believe that there is a high chance that there will be significant cyber-attacks affecting businesses large and small, launched just days after the support ends. We saw it with Windows XP a few years ago, with one of the largest victims being the NHS, with up to 70,000 devices being affected, crippling essential systems in hospitals across the country. Government figures show that this cost the NHS a staggering £92 million.
It’s not just big businesses at risk though, we’ve helped many small businesses on the Island who have been hit badly – unfortunately all of whom are too embarrassed to be mentioned as a case study! It’s far more cost-effective to invest proactively in IT in the first place.
The bottom line?
If you run Windows 7 after 14th January 2020, your systems, and therefore your business, will not be secure.
You will expose yourself to the huge risk of losing data, massive disruption to your business, large financial loss, and data breaches along with a possible fine from the ICO.
You only need one machine running Windows 7 on your network to put everything within your whole business at risk.
So please take action now
Please contact us as soon as possible if you are still running Windows 7.