Jeremy Herold

Outdated Software Puts Businesses at Risk

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New data spells out the alarming trend of using outdated software

Running an unsupported or near end-of-life operating system increases security risks. Despite that fact, new research from Kaspersky has revealed that many businesses and consumers are still using Windows 7. Some users have yet to even upgrade past Windows XP!

Researchers from Kaspersky analyzed data collected from their Security Network users regarding what operating system they use and the results are staggering. Forty-one percent of consumers still use obsolete systems, including extremely old systems such as Windows XP and Vista.

Along that same thread, 40 percent of very small businesses (VSBs) and 48 percent of SMBs and enterprises still use these outdated systems.

They also found that even though Windows XP hasn’t been supported in over 10 years, two percent of consumers and one percent of workstations used by VSBs are still relying on that operating system.

Windows Vista and Windows 8 are also still being used. Windows 8 has not been supported by Microsoft since January of 2016.

Windows 7 also remains a popular choice for both consumers and businesses. The end of life for support of Windows 7 is arriving shortly in January 2020. Thirty-eight percent of consumers and VSBs, and 47 percent of SMBs and enterprises still run this version of Windows despite the security risk of doing so.

So, why do so many people still use these outdated operating systems? The answers were multifaceted. Cost and resistance to change are both factors that could lag the process of upgrading.

Actual cost or even perceived cost may hold some people back from upgrading. Even though the initial cost may be concerning, the cost of a security incident later on could end up proving to be more expensive than the cost of the upgrade would have been, especially when the costs of lost production time, lost files, and potential damages from stolen customer data are taken into consideration.

Resistance to change is also a major factor for some consumers and businesses when considering an upgrade. Sometimes just the comfort of using software requiring no degree of learning is the culprit. Other concerns may be that the currently used software may not work with the new operating system.

How do you decide to upgrade and where do you begin?

The answer may be to start small, so that you don’t feel like you’re biting off more than you can chew.

A small but significant step to start with would be to figure out which software is being used in your company and finding out if an upgrade is available or necessary. By making a list of software you’re currently using and what upgrades there are, you can systematically prepare for each small change and upgrade strategically so as to have the easiest transition possible. It’s important that while looking at the software your company uses, especially specialty software that may run specialty equipment, that you make sure it’s compatible with an operating system upgrade.

If specialty software isn’t a concern, even upgrading just a few workstation operating systems at a time can cause a significant increase to your company’s risk protection from malicious software.

What happens if you sweep the issue under the rug?

Not upgrading to a supported operating system is akin to parking your car in a busy parking lot and never locking your car doors. Your car may not get broken into, but the chance of it getting broken into is always there. Even with antivirus software, if you never secure the underlying operating system you’re undermining the effectiveness of your security software and it may not offer the protection you’re expecting.

Either way, upgrading to a supported operating system must be highly prioritized.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or confused with the available computer upgrade options, make sure to ask for help.

As always, if we can be of help with your network or computer, give us a call here at RHYNO Networks. (855) 749-6648

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