Since Microsoft decided to inform XP users via a pop up on their screens of it’s end of life I have been asked numerous times what will happen after that date. Windows XP will still be usable however Microsoft will not be issuing security updates for XP and in addition Microsoft is ending support for Internet Explorer 8.
How important is it that the Operating System you may be using will no longer be updated with new security fixes. Well very with approx 30% of the world still using these products it is more than likely hackers will attempt to exploit any new vulnerabilities found in these products.
If you are going to continue to use XP you should take steps to secure your computer
Use an Up to Date Web Browser
Internet Explorer 8 is not only out of date but now will not be updated with any security fixes which microsoft used to do regularly.
Third party Web Browser producers such as Firefox , Google Chrome not only support XP but are constantly improving their browsers. Given the risk you should install one of these browsers and discontinue using Internet explorer.
Get the latest Browser addin software
With the advent of Windows 7 and it’s improved security features hackers turned their attention to third party software which provide plugins to your web browsers such as Java , Flash and Adobe Reader. XP users should get the latest updates for these products.
Use an Internet Security package
Anti Virus checkers are not the same thing as Internet Security packages. The former tend to only check local files for viruses. A good Internet Security packages will implement the following
- Monitors Network Activity
- Monitors Internet Traffic
- Provides Application Trust Levels.
Use an alternative software to builtin XP software
As well as the operating system and browser vulnerabilities there are many other programs which come built in to Windows XP which are also vulnerable . For example software such as Media Player , Apple Quicktime should also be updated.
Should you Upgrade?
It is reported in many articles that Windows 7 is up to 5 times more secure than XP , this number is based on statistics produced by Microsoft.however what I can tell you is that Windows 7 implements the following technologies.
- Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR)
- Protected Mode Internet Explorer (PMIE)
- User Account Control
I have talked previously about these technologies at more depth in a previous post which can be viewed here . and these technologies counteract against some of the popular techniques used by hackers to compromise any computer.
There are many who will be unable or unwilling to make the jump due to the age of their computers and additionally many business users will have complicated installations which will be difficult and time-consuming to recreate on a new system such as Windows 7.
For those with complicated installations who want to maintain their software as is but upgrade to the latest hardware and gain the benefits of a more secure Operating System there is a way of doing this which I talk about here.
You will notice I have been talking about an upgrade path from XP to Windows 7 and not the latest release from Microsoft Windows 8. There are many reason for this and I talk about this in a previous post which you can read here .