What does this mean for your organisation?

If you are a Windows user, you have probably heard that as of January 14th this year, Microsoft has stopped providing extended support to the 10-year-old OS program Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. In April 2019, Microsoft started alerting program users of the discontinuation by installing pop up notifications on the affected devices to encourage users to upgrade to the current software. Before the discontinuation, Microsoft gave the programs one final update, but with only a few security fixes. Some of the fixes in the final update include security updates to the Microsoft Scripting Engine, Windows Input and Composition, Windows Storage and Filesystems and Windows Server. While this may tide users over for a little while, failing to act can have a significant impact on the security of your organisation’s files and resources.  

The Risks:

As an organisation, you might be wondering how this will affect you, your clients and your employees. Matthew Sorensen, Support Coordinator here at humanIT says that using an outdated program puts your organisation at a greater risk of being hacked by cyber criminals.

“Cyber criminals can compromise systems easily when new vulnerabilities are discovered, which are basically errors in the program that allow the hackers to easily manipulate the operating system or software on it in a way that is not intended.  So, when a program or operating system discontinues its security support, it means that newly discovered vulnerabilities will no longer be fixed,” he said.

Therefore, the longer the system is outdated, the greater the risk for your organisation to be compromised. One example of when an organisation’s system is compromised, is crypto locking where cyber criminals encrypt an organisations files, making them inaccessible and demanding ransom for recovery of the files. Remember the WannaCry cyber attack on Windows XP devices back in 2017 that affected so many organisations? If your organisation continues to use Windows 7, the same could happen to you. So, what should you do now?  

What Should I Do Now?

For current users of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, Mr Sorensen said that at humanIT, we’re working on upgrading clients from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and upgrading their 2008r2 servers to Windows Server 2016 or 2019.

“Unfortunately, if your machines are old and don’t meet the specifications for upgrade, you will need to replace them,” he said.

While, yes, upgrades can be expensive, it can be even more expensive to recover from a cyber-attack, which in addition to financial setbacks can have a detrimental effect on the day to day running of your organisation. Luckily, non-for-Profit organisations can be granted cheaper upgrade licences, making upgrading a less stressful process.

Another option that Mr Sorensen recommends is switching from the 2008 server to Office 365, a cloud-based system that allows you to consolidate all your services in the one place that your organisation can rely on.

Office 365 is great because it is constantly updated by Microsoft, meaning organisations will never run into the issue of it being out of support, like Server 2008 is now,” he said.

In addition, the service is geo-replicated so if there’s an outage in the Melbourne Data Centre, you’ll usually still be able to access your files and data from the Sydney Data Centre and continue the day’s work.

Overall, if you’re currently a user of Windows 7 and/or Windows Server 2008, it’s a good idea to upgrade your devices as soon as possible to ensure the cyber safety of your organisation. At humanIT, we can offer support with this process, making the transition smoother and stress free for your organisation.

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