Cyber-security experts are urging Windows 7 users to upgrade their OS. Microsoft goes to prevent supporting Windows 7 from Tuesday in order that it can specialize in “newer technologies”. As a result, Windows 7 users will not receive the all-important security updates and patches that keep their machines safe.
One in four Windows users is running Windows 7, consistent with statistics website StatCounter.
What does this all mean?
It means Microsoft is ending the cat-and-mouse game with hackers seeking to take advantage of software bugs within the Windows 7 OS. If perpetrators find a flaw in Windows 7, Microsoft won’t fix it. Without continued software and security updates, Windows 7 machines are more likely to be infected with viruses and malware, Microsoft wrote on its website.
“Running an unpatched machine means the issues within the code will never be fixed and as exploits for those flaws become known and widespread, your chances of being successfully attacked grow very rapidly,” said Rik Ferguson, vice-president of security research at Trend Micro.
David Emm, a senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, added that folks got to move to a supported OS as soon as possible.
What are the risks?
Hackers use malware to invade, damage or disable computers.
It is often wont to steal personal and financial data, spy on other users without them knowing, and to carry companies to ransom until a payment is formed . In May 2017, the NHS was hit by the WannaCry ransomware attack.
A government report in 2018 concluded that the attack could are avoided if NHS Trusts had updated their computers and applied the required security patches. Hackers exploited weaknesses in unpatched versions of Windows 7, also to a lesser extent the sooner Windows XP, which Microsoft had stopped supporting.
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What do you have to do together with your Windows 7 PC?
Computers running Windows 7 will still function after Tuesday but they’re going to subsided and fewer secure. Microsoft is urging people to maneuver to Windows 10, a more modern OS that it sells for £120.
“Going forward, the simplest way for you to remain secure is on Windows 10,” it said. “And the simplest thanks to experience Windows 10 is on a replacement PC.” It is possible to put in Windows 10 on old PCs but Microsoft warns that it’s going to not run smoothly.
In order to run Windows 10, PCs must have a 1GHz processor, 16GB of disk drive space, and 1GB of RAM memory. “While it’s possible to put in Windows 10 on your older device, it’s not recommended,” Microsoft said. That said, Windows 7 users don’t get to upgrade if they use their PC offline.
What do UK officials say?
UK authorities have warned Windows 7 users to not do internet banking or send emails after Tuesday.
The warning was issued by the National Cyber Security Centre, which is a component of Britain’s intelligence GCHQ, and first reported by The Telegraph.
“We would urge those using the software after the deadline to exchange unsupported devices as soon as possible, to maneuver sensitive data to a supported device and to not use them for tasks like accessing bank and other sensitive accounts,” an NCSC spokesperson told the BBC.
“They should also consider accessing email from a special device.”
What about for businesses?
Some companies rely heavily on applications that only work with Windows 7. Businesses pay Microsoft if they need to continue getting updates for Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise. The Windows 7 Extended Security Updates are going to be available until 2023 for businesses of all sizes.
Charges range from $25 (£19) per device to $200 per device and increase annually. the prices will mount quickly for organizations with many computers.
For businesses, it’s not always easy to upgrade to a more modern OS, Mr. Ferguson said.
“There could also be business-critical applications which will not run on newer operating systems, or there could also be significant costs related to upgrading those applications,” he said.
Places like hospitals and factories may have equipment that’s designed to run exclusively on Windows 7. “The user isn’t always ready to upgrade without voiding the warranty,” said Mr. Ferguson.