BOSTON, April 8 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
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
"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
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)