Two weeks from now, Windows XP will come to the end of its long and successful run. When the history books are written, Windows XP will likely go down as the most successful version of Windows in history.
But all good things must come to an end, and that includes computer operating systems.
After April 8, 2014, Microsoft will stop providing security updates for Windows XP. At that moment, Windows XP will become the most viable attack target on the Internet for malware and cybercrime.
This wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that our Smart Protection Network data is showing that 32% of all PCs out there are STILL running Windows XP. Meaning more than 30% of PCs are about to become a significant target for malware and cybercrime.
The world has never faced a situation quite like this. Versions of Windows have gone out of support in the past, but never in such wide usage when it does.
So many systems on the Internet are about to become viable targets in this way make this situation a problem not just for those people running those vulnerable systems but for everyone. Any compromised system is a threat not just for the people who own and use it, but can also be a threat to others on the Internet. In particular, compromised systems that become part of botnets do more damage to others than to the owners of those systems.
What this means is that in about two weeks, we are looking at a very large pool of Windows XP computers becoming a real threat to everyone on the Internet.
This is an extraordinary situation.
It’s been said that extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. If there was ever a case to be made for this in terms of security, this would be it.
Usually we view the question of what operating system someone is running as their personal business and choice. And usually that’s a valid point of view.
But in the case of Windows XP and the fact that people running Windows XP are more of a danger to others than themselves, it’s no longer personal business and choice. Just like in a public health crisis, different rules apply because of the threat to the greater good, so here, new rules need to apply.
This is why we’re making available a printable flyer that explains the end of security support for Windows XP, what it means for someone running Windows XP, and what they should do about it. The idea is that if you see someone running Windows XP, you can use this flyer to help them protect themselves and in so doing also help protect the Internet. Whether it’s your friends, family, or businesses you patronize — any time you see someone running Windows XP, we hope you’ll take the time to help them understand the risks and do something about it.
Click to enlarge and print.
Doing this isn’t just a public service. If you see your doctor’s office using Windows XP, for example, your personal and medical information are at direct risk. Saying something about this problem can potentially save you problems in the future as well.
We usually think of Internet security as something “other people” take care of. And usually the professionals can take care of a lot of it. But we are all part of the Internet and we all have a responsibility not just to ourselves but to each other to keep it as safe as possible. In this extraordinary time it really is appropriate to do something different. Regarding Windows XP and the risks coming after April 8, 2014, if you see it, say it.
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