End of XP Support Marks a Heyday for Hackers

Complete with a countdown clock, Microsoft is making it very clear that is will no longer support the Windows XP operating system after April 8, 2014. That means no more updates, patches or security fixes of any kind for XP, which was first released nearly 12 years ago. Without ongoing support, Windows XP systems will be especially vulnerable to hackers and any malware that users might encounter. In addition, support for Office 2003 products will also end on this date.

Not only will XP and Office 2003 users be more vulnerable, but online security firms warn that they may be targeted by scammers and phishing attacks that try to insert malware in the guise of helping users migrate to a new OS. Another cause for concern is that an estimated 95% of American Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are said to run on Windows XP. Although most banks are said to be paying Microsoft for extended support and migrating away from XP, the prospects that ATMs routinely used by consumers to conduct financial transactions may become vulnerable is resulting in apprehension.

Furthermore, Microsoft states that Windows XP has an infection rate that is six times higher than Windows 8. Of course this may be explained in part by the extended amount of time that XP has been on the market and its widespread adoption by users during its time, giving hackers and bad actors plenty of time and opportunity to insert malware. While Microsoft may have an incentive to encourage people to migrate from XP, in rural communities it is often the service provider that helps users clean up cybersecurity problems. Therefore, carriers might wish to consider reminding their customers of the end of support for XP and Office 2003.

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