Microsoft ends Windows XP support, hackers may be lurking

BOSTON Tue Apr 8, 2014 11:42pm EDT

The Microsoft logo is seen at their offices in Bucharest March 20, 2013. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

The Microsoft logo is seen at their offices in Bucharest March 20, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Bogdan Cristel

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BOSTON (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp released its final security updates for Windows XP and Office 2003 on Tuesday as security experts warned users that they could soon be prime targets for cyber attacks if they do not abandon the products.

Security experts advise consumers and businesses to either replace computers running Windows XP or upgrade to modern versions of Microsoft's software within the next month because they will no longer be protected from newly discovered threats after the middle of May.

Microsoft automatically rolls out new security updates on the second Tuesday of each month, which is known as "Patch Tuesday," a day when they also publish technical details on the security bugs they are fixing. The next Patch Tuesday is May 13.

Security experts say they believe hackers will study that data and "reverse engineer" the May Patch Tuesday software updates to identify ways to attack computers running Windows XP, along with Office 2003, which will no longer receive patches from Microsoft.

"Attackers will use this as an accelerator. It's an easier way to get at machines," said Wolfgang Kandek, chief technology officer with cybersecurity firm Qualys Inc.

Microsoft wants users to move to more modern versions of the operating system partly because it has incorporated new security features into the software over the past decade that make it far more effective in thwarting cyber attacks.

The world's largest software maker first warned that it was planning to end support for Windows XP in 2007, but security firms estimate that 15 to 25 percent of the world's PCs still run on the version of the operating system that was released in October 2001.

Only about a third of the world's 2.2 million ATMs which use the system have been upgraded to newer operating systems, according to NCR, one of the biggest ATM makers.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Tom Brown)

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Comments (3)
Poltie430 wrote:
Upgrade to a user friendly Linux distribution such as Linux Mint (linuxmint dot com).
The old PC will be faster and much more secure than when it had Windows XP. Best of all, it is free and you do not have to give Microsoft any more money.

Apr 09, 2014 2:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
njglea wrote:
How can Microsoft continue to abandon their products’ security, especially XP which is not compatible with any of their other platforms? There should be a class action suit against them to insist they support XP until its end or to cover the cost of rebuilding systems using their newest platform. The company I work for, which does social survey research, mistakenly used XP when we went to Windows. Now we need to update the questionnaire for the project I work on and it must be totally rewritten because XP is not compatible with anything. It will cost hundreds of thousands fo dollars. Think of how much this is going to cost taxpayers when OUR government agencies are forced to change platforms or be vulnerable. Just so Microsoft can improve profits? NO.

Apr 09, 2014 10:21am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Oma wrote:

Apr 09, 2014 12:33pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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