Windows XP phantom will haunt majority of businesses after deadline

New research suggests that the majority of UK businesses, despite numerous warnings, simply aren't ready for the Windows XP cut-off point next week.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

The Windows XP deadline is looming, and yet many businesses will soon face the prospect of relying on a system no longer protected from cyberattacks.

On April 8, Microsoft will no longer investigate security issues or release patches to fix vulnerabilities and keep systems and data safe. Microsoft has warned that users face a "zero day forever" scenario if they fail to upgrade their operating system, as the Windows XP Service Pack (SP) 3 will not get any more updates.

New research released by British software company AppSense also highlights the concern surrounding the aging operating system, and suggests that IT departments need to get on the problem quickly and update to at least Windows 7.

According to AppSense, 77 percent of UK organisations will still be running Windows XP within their business when the deadline passes. An additional concern is that 68 percent of businesses admit they have "no plans" to pay for extended support despite numerous warnings of the vulnerabilities inherent in the operating system -- many of which may be stored up by cybercriminals until the deadline passes and no patches for new exploits will be issued.

The survey of 100 UK-based IT decision makers stemmed from 50 percent working within SMBs, and 50 percent in organizations with over 3,000 employees. The research includes responses from those in financial services, manufacturing, retail, distribution, and transport.

The research also highlights business plans to migrate platforms to updated systems, with 84 percent of XP users stating they will update to a new operating system within the next year. However, 70 percent of IT decision makers who said they would not pay for extended support also said they were either "not" or "not at all" concerned about security after Microsoft's Windows XP cut-off date.

However, it is worth noting that while Windows XP is still present in the majority of firms, it is still a minority in terms of penetration -- with 87 percent of those surveyed stating that less than 25 percent of desktops were running the operating system.

Simon Townsend, Chief Technologist of AppSense commented:

"It might be the case that an XP machine is running a print server, or some other application which is not entirely obvious. The reality is though, that one machine could potentially put an entire network at risk and without adequate protection it could be a step into the unknown for U.K. businesses.

While it’s clear that organisations are committed to getting off the Windows XP platform in the medium term, they are opening their organisations to potential threats by leaving systems unsupported."

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