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Windows XP Users: Hackers Are Hunting For You

If you’re one of the millions still using Windows XP, hunting season began on April 9, 2013, the day after Microsoft ended support for the 12-year-old operating system, and hackers now have you in their sights. 

XP still works, but Microsoft will no longer provide new security updates, issue fixes for non-security-related problems, or offer online technical content updates.  The Redmond, Wash.-based company will continue to provide anti-malware-related updates for XP through July 14, 2015, but because the XP operating system will be outdated the tweaks might be of limited help in protecting your computer.

From a hacker’s point of view, XP already was “low-hanging fruit” according to security analysts, but without updates it will be even more attractive.   If flaws are found in Windows 7 or 8, there’s a good chance that a similar problem exists in XP, so hackers will go look for it.

There are performance issues as well.  New products like printers and scanners and new versions of software likely won’t be designed to work with XP because the makers know it isn’t supported, so finding compatible products might be difficult.  Even upgrading to Windows 7 or 8 might be a problem because your computer is probably several years old.

Analysts suggest that if you are running Windows on a computer that is more than five years old, chances are it’s running XP.  If you aren’t sure, Microsoft will check for you.  Go to amirunningxp.com, where it will tell you whether you are running XP and, if so, it will give you a tour of Windows 8.1, with comparisons to Windows 7, the two upgrade options from Microsoft.  To find out if your computer meets the system requirements for upgrading, use this tool: http://bit.ly/KkZERx.

But the best bet is to spend your money on a new computer.  According to Microsoft, a number of PC makers are offering deals timed to the retirement of XP, and since computers are generally sold with the operating system already installed you won’t have to worry about upgrading.

So get out of the hacker cross-hairs.  Upgrade your operating system or buy a new computer before techno-deviants worm their way into your data or lock down your system.

Thomas_Steve_6597For more information, contact Steve Thomas at sthomas@mcslaw.com.