Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hackers Continue to Receive Support for Windows XP

The software giant that withdrew support of Windows XP last month has recently warned against using a hack that allows the outdated OS to continue to receive security updates. The hack makes update servers apply security patches to Windows XP – a tiny modification within the OS makes it look like other versions that are still supported until 2019. 

Microsoft warned that people who still use Windows may face problems if they decide to use the hack and install the updates, because those were developed for Windows Embedded and Windows Server 2003 and cannot fully protect Windows XP. Besides, users also run a huge risk of functionality issues with their computers if they do install those updates, because they weren’t even tested against Windows XP.

Instead, Microsoft offers to upgrade the operating system to something like Windows 7 or switch browsers at the very least. However, the British government chose the third option and paid £5.5 million to extend support for Windows XP for another year in the hope that the public sector will take its time to migrate to supported software. The United Kingdom was not the only country to choose this way: the Netherlands, for instance, also negotiated a similar deal with Microsoft.

An Internet Explorer security bug was all over the news recently, as it was actively being used by hackers to obtain control of computers running Windows OS just days after the software maker ceased security support updates for Windows XP. This issue underlined the importance of continued security updates for popular software – and the statistics say that almost half of all machines in the world still run Windows XP.

As a result, Microsoft had to renege on its support withdrawal and issue a fix to the bug in IE on Windows XP – for free and for everyone. Security specialists warned that this problem was the first but not the last one, and that Windows XP users are strongly recommended to upgrade their software to any currently supported system. If they can’t do so due to the outdated hardware, they are still recommended to at least switch to another browser, like Google’s Chrome or Firefox that are actively supported.

According to the provided statistics, about 430 million computers worldwide were still running Windows XP at the day when Microsoft withdrew support. As for the United Kingdom, which paid for extended support, the OS was still used on 17% of machines in the beginning of May.

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