The end of Windows Server 2003 is only the beginning

Today is the deadline for end of support for Windows Server 2003. The reason you may not have noticed? Unlike Windows XP, this version is likely to live on much longer. 

Simply put, many companies aren’t ready for this particular product’s end of life. While Windows XP was a painful upgrade for some and many missed the deadline, the security risks were relatively small.

As for Server 2003, InfoWorld’s Serdar Yegulalp points out that there’s a very good case for companies keeping it around:

  • many companies in manufacturing or other non-technical centers use it for equipment that can’t easily be upgraded, and
  • since it’s based on a 32-bit architecture (instead of later versions’ 64-bit), upgrading company applications wasn’t easy, or even an option, in some cases.

Yegulalp observes that as long as these servers don’t connect to the public-facing Internet, there’s relatively little danger. Of course, that situation is unique to some organizations, and isn’t a working solution for everyone who hasn’t made the switch yet.

What’s next for 2003 users?

A server is a very appealing target for hackers. It’s easy to jump from there to security breaches in almost no time. That makes upgrading or securing servers crucial to your company’s security, and by proxy, the bottom line.

If you haven’t gotten around to upgrading from Server 2003 just yet, you’re not alone. Here are some things to consider:

  • Isolate immediately. In the short term, you’ll want to isolate your server from the Internet. It’s not an ideal solution, but it will buy you some time to …
  • Develop an upgrade plan. While most companies have already planned to move on from Windows Server 2003, others are facing the “If it ain’t broke … ” mentality from the top. Explain to execs that the system is already broken, you just don’t know how yet. Once hackers figure that out, there will be nothing standing between them and a total system compromise.
  • Test thoroughly. While the pressure is on to upgrade, one area you won’t want to rush through is testing. It’s going to take a lot of tinkering to make sure you’re not stuck with non-working apps once you upgrade to a newer server. Put the work in ahead of time to avoid unpleasant surprises later.

Make Smarter Tech Decisions

Get the latest IT news, trends, and insights - delivered weekly.

Privacy Policy