Microsoft support for Windows 7 ended on January 14, 2020. Your PC will still work if you continue to use Windows 7 after support has ended. If your workstations are business-critical then you need to understand the risks involved by continuing to use end of support software.

Understanding the Risks

Without the latest software security updates from Microsoft, your PC or laptop operating systems are more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. This means:

  • You will no longer get the latest bug and security fixes from Microsoft
  • New software designed to work on the latest operating systems may not be compatible with Windows 7
  • Your workstations are most likely to be older than 5 years old and reaching the end of the life cycle
  • Depending on your industry – you may be breaking compliance guidelines by not having the most up to date software
  • You’re missing out on all the features of Windows 10!

Why does it matter?

Back in 2017, the NHS was hit by a massive cyberattack when malware was able to infiltrate systems. The attack left 47 NHS organisations affected with malware in their system, ranging from hospital trusts to commissioning support units. source: NHS Digital and BBC News

In reflection, it was later suggested that the NHS had not followed NHS Digital Policies to update the core operating systems when software became end of support. This meant the affected workstations did not have the latest security updates installed.

So why does it matter? Without the latest security updates – you are at higher risk and open to vulnerabilities. Hackers will most likely be going after Windows 7 machines even more often now that Microsoft support has ended. Since COVID, we’ve already seen new ways that Hackers are exploiting the global pandemic.

If you are running Windows 7 (or older) then it’s most likely you will be running other legacy apps or software as newer versions will not be compatible with your older operating system. These apps are vulnerable too!

When purchasing new equipment, such as printers or webcams, it’s worth checking compatibility with your current operating system too. You may find that drivers and some plug and play devices will not run on legacy operating systems.

Using Zoom or Teams? If you want to upgrade your internal webcam for a new higher specification external one for online meetings – then this is an example where the latest drivers may not work with Windows 7!

Legacy Software

Examples of cybercrime

Hackers take advantage of unintentional decisions by people using the software, they constantly scan the internet for vulnerabilities. When workstations don’t have the latest security updates – they can be an easy target.

Even the best antivirus software may not be able to stop an attack if it doesn’t have the latest versions to detect an attack. Cyberattacks can include:

  • Viruses – these can affect multiple systems and hackers may even be able to take over control of your workstation
  • Botnets are often installed to cause a Denial of Service (DOS) to websites. Hackers do this by overloading a website causing it to crash
  • Phishing scam emails are often sent in mass to trick users to open an attachment or share personal information like bank details

 

Mitigating Risk

Sadly we live in a world where Cyberattacks happen both at home and in the workplace. As a business, your must-have a robust backup and disaster recovery plan in place to protect and retrieve your data.

Talk to the team at Turnkey if you are concerned about legacy operating systems and ensuring you have the right IT recovery plan in place.


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Post by Sooz Kinsella

Sooz has worked at the core of innovation in software technology for over 20 years. Her passion lies in delivering great customer journeys and automating processes.