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Microsoft XP Extends Antimalware Support, Cybersecurity Concerns

By Kaleigh Alessandro | Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Back in October of last year, we learned that Microsoft was ending support for its XP operating system – a move that would force users to upgrade to its more current software. Fast forward to today, and more than 29% of PC users are still using XP (according to NetMarketShare). In an interesting move, Microsoft announced recently that it will continue to provide updates to its antimalware signatures and engine for Windows XP users through July 14, 2015. Microsoft did caution that its research shows that the effectiveness of antimalware solutions on out-of-support operating systems is limited. 

But why?Windows XP End of Life

We can assume this is a move at least partly fueled by slow adoption of software upgrades, based on the figure NetMarketShare has provided. Beyond private PC users, however, there may lie an even greater reason for extending security support. Reports suggest that more than 90% of ATMs across the United States are operating with Windows XP – a potentially crippling situation if hackers were able to breach the operating system. Last year, “a high-profile criminal group in Europe took advantage of a security vulnerability in XP that allowed them to use flash drives to infect ATMs with malicious software, emptying the machines of cash one-by-one. Researchers estimate that they may have gotten away with millions of Euros.”

Even beyond ATMs, the cybersecurity threat to Windows XP is still very real. Avoiding or delaying the software upgrade can pose critical risks to firms as their PCs continue to deteriorate and become more susceptible to breaches and attacks. Financial services firms, in particular, should take note, as a recent study published by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) revealed the financial industry is the most targeted group in the cybersecurity world. The PwC study found that 39 percent of financial services respondents had been affected by cybercrime, compared to the next highest industry at 17 percent.

Here are Eze Castle, we strongly advise you to investigate your firm’s current operating system (or if you’re an Eze client, talk to your client relationship manager) in order to ensure measures are taken to avoid any downfall as a result of Windows XP’s end of life. Despite the malware protection extension, XP’s demise still poses a significant threat to users and businesses who have not successfully upgraded.

In the event you aren’t overly tech-savvy and can’t be sure which operating system you’re currently using, Microsoft has made it simple to find the answer by visiting their website.  

To continue reading about security, here are a few handy resources we’d recommend:

Photo Credit: Microsoft

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