Back in July, we featured a post commenting on the Windows XP end-of-life date and the potential problems corporations were set to face should they choose not to upgrade their operating systems. Now, seven months past XP’s end-of-life date, companies that have yet to upgrade are discovering the truth behind all the warnings. Here’s an update.
Retailers have a responsibility to protect their customers’ financial information, but recently, both Home Depot and Target were victims of costly security breaches in which the thieves exploited a decade-old crack in Windows XP for Embedded Systems. Both retailers continued using the outdated operating system for their point-of-sale systems despite warnings of increased Windows XP security risks. Combined, both breaches accounted for more than $100 million in credit card losses. The worst part of it all – the theft could have been averted had the retailers simply upgraded to Windows 7 for Embedded Systems.
Despite Windows XP being more than 13 years old, it continues to reside on a massive chunk of active PCs. In fact, approximately 24% of all PCs are still running on Windows XP. What is perhaps most startling is that the outdated operating system also happens to be a favorite among hackers.
According to the security research firm, Proofpoint, a group of Russian hackers were recently found to be using a server to control a botnet that consisted of more than 500,000 hacked PCs, the majority of which are found in the United States. More specifically, the PCs were infected by a piece of malware called Qbot. The malware not only allowed the Russian hackers to steal financial information, but it also added the infected computers to a botnet network that was leased to other criminals.
Proofpoint’s report stated that more than half of the infected computers were running on Windows XP. It also suggested that the criminal operation targeted the online credentials for primarily U.S. banks through Qbot malware that was downloaded from compromised WordPress sites.
Apple is a company that has become synonymous with technological innovations. But, in the company’s production factories, Windows XP is still being used, despite the risks of doing so. Once you recover from having your mind blown by Apple using Microsoft’s operating system to help design and build its entire line of products, including the iPad, iPhone, Mac Air, Watch, and more, you have to wonder why such a huge tech company like Apple relies on an operating system that is not only more than 13 years old, but one that is no longer supported by its developer.
Every week it seems like there’s another major corporation suffering a credit card breach and in more cases than not, Windows XP is the operating system that was infiltrated. This means that now is definitely the time to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8. These newer operating systems have more complex configurations that while not 100% protected against hackers, the number of steps involved to break into the systems generally serve as an effective deterrent, especially when there is much easier prey available among those PCs still using Windows XP.
If you have recently done the wise thing and upgraded your infrastructure and you now have an inventory of old Windows XP equipment, then contact Liquid Technology today. We can liquidate your inventory of excess computers and perform DOD-compliant data destruction so you can be confident that any recorded data on the equipment can no longer be retrieved.