Microsoft withdraws support for Windows XP

Microsoft is ended technical support for the Windows XP operating system on 8th April 2014. This means that Microsoft stopped providing security updates for Windows XP. Without these critical security updates many computers are vulnerable to attacks from hackers and cybercriminals, exposing them to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal personal and business data.

Microsoft announced it will continue to provide warnings for well-known malicious programmes until 14th July 2015 but security patches, regular updates and bug fixes for Windows XP stopped on 8th April 2014. Microsoft’s anti-malware updates extension is due to the large numbers still using the operating system.

The extension should not be seen as a long term fix, in their blogpost, Microsoft warned users to stop using Windows XP as soon as possible to ensure their online safety. "The effectiveness of anti-malware solutions on unsupported operating systems is limited," said Microsoft. "Running a well-protected solution starts with using modern software and hardware designed to help protect against today's threats."

What to do if you have Windows XP

The security implications of this withdrawal of support could have a significant impact on a number of businesses running Windows XP. To be certain computers remain protected; small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) using Windows XP should introduce a replacement system as soon as possible.

The Business Crime Reduction Centre’s (BCRC) cyber security specialist, Mark Connell, said: “Many businesses still using Windows XP are unaware that Microsoft’s support has expired or are uncertain how to transfer important data. It is essential that businesses protect their data and intellectual property sooner rather than later by migrating to a secure, modern operating system”.

To remain on a supported version of Windows, Microsoft are advising users to update operating systems from Windows XP to Windows 7 or Windows 8 or consider buying a new PC. SME’s, in the Yorkshire and Humber region, can also contact BCRC for support by either calling 0114 275 1283 or emailing info@bcrc-uk.org for free security advice to help them beat the April deadline.

BCRC is delivered in partnership with Yorkshire-based charity, People United Against Crime and South Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Humberside Police forces. BCRC is part financed by the European Union through the Yorkshire and Humber European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007-2013.