Today is the day that Microsoft’s well-documented plans to end support for Windows XP comes into fruition, and with roughly 30 per cent of all desktop computers worldwide still running the operating system, that could mean a lot of people are left with little to no security on their PCs or laptops.
The main security issue with XP is that its security model is ancient in terms of the internet, meaning hackers have had a lot of time to dig in and find flaws. This is why we believe Microsoft is correct in ending support for XP; it is old and buggy and belongs on the trash heap. Whether this means that people will stop running it, however, remains to be seen.
The shift to Windows 7 or later does introduce new security risks too, since new functionality comes with new bugs, although it will remove a lot of the old ones. Moreover, the safer coding practices that Microsoft is using these days should make the new bugs harder to find and exploit than the old ones. By and large, we see security improving on the Windows platform going forward.
Understandably, not everybody may be able to upgrade straight away, possibly due to the fact that upgrading from XP may mean investing in a new PC or laptop. Having said this, a security software solution should be enough to stay fully protected provided that this is used in conjunction with proper security policies and practices and the rest of the computing environment is safe and secure.
From a security point of view we believe that XP’s risks are well understood; it is a very well characterised system and there is vast know-how available on how to keep it safe. That being said, the sooner people can upgrade the better.