What happens if you’re still on XP in two weeks?

OK, just for argument’s sake, let’s pretend that not everyone who is reading this hasn’t already switched off of Windows XP. You know, because according to recent surveys, about a quarter of users haven’t.

What happens when support ends on April 8? 

The short answer: Maybe nothing, right away.

But that doesn’t mean we’d want to be in your shoes.

Results may not be immediate

For users of XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8, the world will look pretty much the same come the second week of April.

But the further out you get, the trickier things will become. If vulnerabilities are discovered and exploited after that, however, Microsoft won’t be there to support you.

That said, other companies are more than willing to protect the outdated OS – for a price. That might be worth the investment (although with cost of new licenses being a major barrier to upgrading an OS, it would be a little strange if companies were willing to pay to protect it instead of just upgrading).

If you’re still on XP, here are some security steps you may want to take:

  1. Advise users not to use Internet Explorer. It won’t be safe on an XP machine, so go with Firefox or Chrome instead.
  2. Remind users about phishing and security. Even if exploits are found going forward, they’re likely still going to involve trying to trick users into downloading malicious files or giving away sensitive info. Now is as good a time as any to remind them to be on the lookout.
  3. Check your firewall settings. The firewall could be the best protection between you and the operating system itself. Make sure your security settings are strong enough to deflect attacks before they can even creep in.

Moving forward

We’re not here to judge anyone who hasn’t upgraded to Windows 7 or Windows 8 yet. Neither is a perfect solution, and even Microsoft seems to implicitly acknowledge that.

Work on getting approval for a new OS as quickly as possible. Sell decision makers on:

  • Cost. If money is holding you back from making an upgrade, they wouldn’t want to see the bill for a cyberattack.
  • Legacy apps. Many companies are reluctant to switch to a new operating system because they’re worried about legacy apps not working on a new OS. But chances are any apps that aren’t able to handle this transition are already pretty outdated. It will only get harder to upgrade these apps down the line.
  • User training. As a last resort, if execs are worried about user push back, offer to schedule some training sessions to get users up to speed on the newer OSs.

 

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