Chris J Powell

The Last 21 Days

On April 8, 2014 Microsoft will end support for the ongoing patching of the venerable Windows XP and it is now crunch time for the nearly 30% of all desktops out there that still run the venerable 13 year old Operating System that in all honesty served so many for so long.  But what will happen on April 9th?  I have heard some doomsday forecasts that this far worse than the perceived threat that never happened with Y2K, but for the most part…it will continue to be business as usual for users of WindowsXP…sort of.

keep-calm-just-21-days-left

I did a quick perusal of the June 2013 Microsoft Security Intelligence Report and surprised that Windows XP still had the highest infection rate among the 4 Client Side OS versions from Microsoft…nearly double that of Windows Vista.

Windows InfectionSo the older code and porous operating system that is Windows XP is more prone to infection by the world’s Virus makers…that is really not a surprise and has been a fact for some time…but the real question that should be asked is…what is the real alternative for the thousands of ATMs, Government Workstations and companies that have held onto the OS even after nearly 3 years of warnings that it was time to upgrade???

There is, in my opinion for most uses there is Linux that can replace the OS for most of these computers…but I have had pretty good success in installing Windows 8 on very old PCs and having them run surprisingly well (despite some Driver Issues).

With just 21 days though, is there enough time left to do a proper migration?  Dell Kace (a great IT Appliance) has an interesting White Paper on the topic and doing a cursory search…there are hundreds of options to get this done…but what is the real cost…because if you have not been doing some user testing before today…it is going to be hard to ensure that the machines you have will be able to run any new version of Windows (or Linux for that matter) and unless you have been holding out on funds, the purchase of even 10, 50, 100 or 1000 new machines could be a challenge for a budget that has been pretty much locked for many years now.

So if you are going to stay with XP (and I really don’t recommend it)…then there are a few things that you need to do soon:

  1. The budget may be tight…but invest in a Next Generation Firewall that offers Unified Threat Management…NOW
  2. Ensure you have locked down the OS to the Advanced Security Levels recommended in the documents and Certifications to the NIST Standards
  3. Really look at the alternatives (Virtual Desktops, Workstation upgrades, Bring Your Own Device)
  4. cross your fingers…your network may become the host for all kinds of bad things (ranging from Denial of Service Attacks to an inconceivable number of viral/trojan/botnet attacks

Yes…this is a bit of a Doomsday forecast…but just like the movie of the same name…the end of days may be nigh!

 

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