On April 8, 2014, Microsoft stopped supporting its Windows XP operating system. Users will no longer receive technical assistance or updates. Windows XP was supported for 12 years and discontinuing its support allows Microsoft to focus its resources on Windows 8 which is currently being supported until 2023. While you can still use Windows XP, you won’t be able to receive security patches or updates. Other hardware and software manufacturers will also be less willing to troubleshoot issues with the older operating system. However, a large number of individuals and businesses, especially banks and healthcare providers, still rely on Windows XP. In fact, a large number of bank ATMs are based on Windows XP. The lack of future updates mean that security flaws won’t get patched and could leave your data vulnerable to outside hackers. Microsoft’s own website states, “If you continue to use Windows XP now that support has ended, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Internet Explorer 8 is also no longer supported, so if your Windows XP PC is connected to the Internet and you use Internet Explorer 8 to surf the web, you might be exposing your PC to additional threats.”
To find out if your computer is running Windows XP, visit Microsoft’s site amirunningxp.com
Microsoft and other companies are providing credits and promotions to get users to upgrade to newer, supported operating systems. Businesses that continue to use Windows XP, especially with client or patient information, could be opening themselves up to serious legal risk if a breach does occur. Companies often have to show that they took reasonable steps to protect the sensitive information before the breach occurred so it could be argued that knowingly using systems with Windows XP with no support was unreasonable.