Windows XP support ends: Survival tips to stay safe

Windows XP support ends: Survival tips to stay safe

Summary: If you're late to upgrade or have decided not to change your operating system, check out these tips to keep the system as secure as possible.

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  • Do not use Internet Explorer

    It is not advisable to keep running Microsoft's Windows XP operating system now that support has ended.

    Today, Microsoft will release its last batch of security updates, patches, and fixes for Windows XP, and after this date, core vulnerabilities or security issues that could leave you open to cyberattack will not be investigated or fixed. You won't have a permenant blue wheel of death the moment support ends, but vulnerabilities stored up by cybercriminals for use after this date will not be fixed. 

    See also: Windows XP and the Future of the desktop

    Tip one? Stop using Internet Explorer.

    The most common version of IE used on XP systems is version 8, and considering that Internet Explorer is now up to version 11, you can see how old and obsolete the browser is. Not only this, but Internet Explorer 7 and 8 will also not be updated further, leaving your system vulnerable to malware that exploits this old program.

    Both Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome browsers will continue support for Windows XP after expiration, and so use one of these browsers instead of Internet Explorer if you are still running XP. This will at least give you a little more time, but be aware that Chrome on XP will only be supported for one more year, and it is not known how long Firefox will offer support.

    In addition, don't forget to change your browser from the IE default.

  • Keep third-party software up to date

    Read this

    If you need Java, use this one instead

    If you need Java, use this one instead

    My ZDNet colleague Ed Bott has exposed some icky practices at Oracle regarding their monetization of the end-user JRE install. Here's a better Java option for you to check out and some considerations for the future that the industry might want to look at.

    The fewer software packages you have installed on your computer, the fewer routes that hackers can take to infiltrate your system.

    Any software you can't live without, especially if used in tandem with an Internet connection, must be kept fully updated at all times. Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat PDF reader, and Java are of particular concern, as they are often targets for hackers -- and while modern versions check for updates automatically, older versions may skip checks altogether.

    If you don't need the Java browser plugin, disable it, and you should do the same for Adobe Flash. The fewer outlets you provide for vulnerabilities to be exploited the better. While these are all stop-gap solutions instead of the ultimate protection — killing your Windows XP system altogether — it may keep your system a little safer.

Topics: Microsoft, Security, Windows

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76 comments
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  • ie8

    Should still be supported considering it shares support lifecycle with Windows 7 (2020).

    Having said that, ie8 on XP isn't supported.
    sjaak327
    • Why would you want ie in any version?

      That's by far the worst browser I've ever used. Slow, arcane, forces you to accept cookies or configure them one at a time, bad password handling, NO ability to zoom only the text (of course, Chrome has the same flaw), WAY too much screen real estate taken up by the tabs and panels and icons, no ability to move them around well. IE 6 had some better features, but in later iterations AS USUAL, Microspit took them away.

      If you want to know what bad design looks like, pick just about any MS product after 2003.
      brainout
      • As a Web Developer, I disagree

        IE10 and above are fantastic. My go to browsers for development now are IE10/11 and Chrome. Firefox is a waste of time.

        Windows 7/8 upgrade to the latest and greatest versions of IE. So the XP users are really the only ones stuck on the bad versions of IE.
        spaulagain2
        • Little Boxes

          Built my own Browser based on code used to build supercomputers.

          Get some idiotic messeges to update and/or upgrade to some of the prebuilt crap out there, while seeing that it parses all the latest W3 sites, with me in command !

          Maintaining som Computers at a dealer corp, and some wan't to retain XP
          while all upgrades are Macs/Linux.

          The XP's have been running for over five years now, without any AV, just blocked some ports used by malware, without one single incident.
          Some of them on Posix, some not.

          Support is like virtual crutches for knowledge impaired.

          Just don't "upgrade" XP into the MS ScareCrow nagscreen only.

          ByeBye MS you will never enter any corporate deployment i know of, again.
          X15meshman
        • IE 10 is a turd

          that one browser has caused me more problems as a web developer than any other browser combined
          KineticArtist
          • ....

            All versions of IE are turds. It was lesser then Netscape and now its lesser then Firefox, Chrome, or Opera
            Fletchguy
        • Lie Much?

          Chrome uses more screen real estate than IE11, not less. IE11 is also very, very fast at least tying Chrome. No discernable difference in the real world.

          Better development tools on IE.

          CTRL+Scroll wheel to zoom...

          Not sure what you're comparing. Oh wait, you're just trolling. My mistake.
          LiquidLearner
        • IE10 and above are fantastic

          That says it all about your opinions. Chrome is just more spyware from Google. Firefox is really the only browser left that works well and is safe. Lots of great extensions to go with it.
          jorjitop
          • And Firefox is sadly going the way of Chrome

            Their new 'Australis' will wreck Firefox as we know it. Supposedly they will allow you to restore the 'classic', but for how long? Next closest browser I've found so far, is Linux Konqueror. Since I'll be using Linux to surf on my XP machines anyway (just plug in a stick, no need for VM, dual-boot, wubi) -- that's what I'll do, if Firefox tanks. I don't know much about Konqueror, so far. But if one, then others.

            Stick creation steps: http://vimeo.com/groups/pcworldalumni/forum/topic:262462 . If you've read anything I typed earlier in Youtube or elsewhere, use the previous sentence link, instead. Or, search on 'Linux stick' in Software at Amazon. Plug and play, purchase price generally seemed to be $30-$40. I asked SirTanon to make bigger sticks with full persistence maybe two months ago, didn't get an answer. Maybe Linux Freak will do it, but I've gotten no answer there, either. Maybe they both are too busy. I also asked Slackware to do it, a year ago. They said it was an interesting idea.

            What none of these folks apparently realizes, is that one can make good profit by making big sticks for Windows users. I use mine to do what XP cannot do well, what Win7 cannot do well. Perfect adjunct for what Windows cannot do well, and Windows does what Linux cannot do well. Good marriage, so anyone making plug-and-play sticks can make a tidy profit and help humanity in a meaningful way.
            brainout
          • there is one for *serious* users,,,

            - the mainstream one is for those that dont use it for browsing much! :) they get their 'fix' nightly now.. :P

            Firefox ESR is solid enough for industry, and serious browsing...
            comnut2k
    • A game to Farewell window xp

      A game to Farewell window xp

      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=linexp.farewell.xp
      xndhai
  • and

    Of course running Chrome or Firefox doesn't really alleviate any of the problems and vulnerabilities that might be targeted at the system.

    Of people do not want to risk falling victim to these vulnerabilities they should move off XP now, just replacing the browser only leads to a false sense of security.
    sjaak327
    • Hmmm, switch to Win8 or have all my financial accounts emptied out???...

      I think I'd prefer my accounts emptied out.
      FrankInKy
      • You need to see a doctor.

        Unless your accounts are empty in any case, in which case you could always pirate another version of Windows or go Linux.

        By the way, in my post I didn't even mention win8, I said "move off XP" , guess your eyes are problematic as well.
        sjaak327
        • Haters will hate. I guess that's why his accounts are empty.

          It shows nobody will hire grumpy, old men.
          William.Farrel
          • they're not empty yet

            they're approaching half a million $
            FrankInKy
        • see a doctor

          sjaak327, your manners are indeed lacking, yes you did say "move off xp"that could be misunderstood for hinting to move to windows 8 ( a turd ) and then insult the person by telling him to get a " pirate" copy of windows hinting to him that he is a thief. gee you really lack respect for someone that you dont even know.
          totalnerd
          • Upgrade your PC OS

            @totalnerd
            MS freely acknowledge that most PCs currently running XP can never hope to run Windows 8.
            Their suggestion "Consider buying a new computer".

            If you really are a total nerd why not recommend people upgrade to Ubuntu or some other Linux-based OS for their PCs.
            They will immediately free up so much space by getting rid of the bloated MS software and become immune to most of the hacks targeted at MS software.
            OpenOffice for Linux will support most of their Office 2003 files as well and they can have any browser the like (as long as it's not IE).
            JohnHur
          • Linux is NOT a viable substitute for Windoze

            Actually, Ubuntu, etc. are just as bloated and flawed as MS software, and just as vulnerable to attacks. Furthermore, Linux does NOT support most programs and many devices, and "Wine" is a bad joke. It doesn't even display the fonts correctly! OpenOffice for Linux does NOT support 99% of Office 2003 files, unless you want to spend a year (per file) reformatting and redoing all the calculations manually.
            If Linux was a viable substitute, I would have switched from Windoze long ago, as I am no fan of badly written, inadequately tested, software.
            cdgoldin
          • Right, cdgoldin, Linux is not a viable substitute, but is a VITAL buddy..

            to any version of Windows. Wine doesn't work to sandbox, and I'm not sure CrossOver will prove better, am going to try it today on Linux Mint, helped by a guy named 'Trappp' over in Computerworld comments. But I can certify that without Linux, my XP and later machines wouldn't function properly. Clonezilla, a Linux disk-cloner, has rescued my Windows 7 machines from Windows updates, six times since November '12. Windows' own restore and backup and repair programs cannot do that job. For XP, you can buy Norton GoBack (still for sale in Amazon), and it's wonderful: that program rescued my XP machines countless times over the years. Linux has no equivalent, but the cloning is close.

            Also use it for file management, partitioning, surfing, email, DVD read/write; for neither XP nor Win7, do those functions well (XP had done all but the DVD well, but of course now one has a minimal risk in surfing, email).

            But most importantly, Linux can protect rescue your Windows machine from crashes, attacks, bugs. You don't need to install it to your hard drive. You can change the interface 'wardrobe' to a set of shell 'clothing' you prefer. Every Windows user should have a Linux stick. I realize that now, and all this past week have been taking steps to create enough of them ( steps in https://vimeo.com/groups/pcworldalumni/forum/topic:262462 , are the ones that work best, versus all the erroneous instructions 'out there', learned that the hard way).

            Wish I were young again. I would create a company devoted to making Linux sticks. Great profit potential, needful benefit to everyone on earth.
            brainout