Windows XP users are putting everyone at risk

  • 30% of users still on Windows XP are targets for malware, cybercrime
  • Because of the threat to the greater good, new rules need to apply

Windows XP users are putting everyone at riskALL good things must come to an end, and that includes computer operating systems. When the history books are written, Windows XP will likely go down as the most successful version of Windows in history.
After April 8, 2014, Microsoft stopped providing security updates for Windows XP. Just recently, Microsoft released Security Advisory 2963983 which describes a new zero-day vulnerability found in Internet Explorer.
This remote code execution vulnerability allows an attacker to run code on a victim system if the user visits a website under the control of the attacker.
Trend Micro’s Smart Protection Network data shows that 32% of all PCs out there are still running Windows XP and about 30% of these users are now a significant target for malware and cybercrime.
The world has never faced a situation quite like this. Versions of Windows have gone out of support in the past, but never in such wide usage.
The risk of using an unsupported OS such as Windows XP is real, and this vulnerability is proof of that. This vulnerability may linger unpatched in many systems for some time, as it is the first vulnerability affecting Windows XP systems that will not be patched.
We strongly encourage Windows XP users to migrate to a supported OS as soon as they can, and ensure their systems are protected as they plan for the migration.
So many systems on the Internet are about to become viable targets in this way, making this situation a problem not just for those people running those vulnerable systems but for everyone.
Any compromised system is a threat not just for the people who own and use it, but can also be a threat to others on the Internet. In particular, compromised systems that become part of botnets do more damage to others than to the owners of those systems.
We are looking at a very large pool of Windows XP computers becoming a real threat to everyone on the Internet.
Windows XP users are putting everyone at riskThis is an extraordinary situation.
It’s been said that extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. If there was ever a case to be made for this in terms of security, this would be it.
Usually we view the question of what operating system someone is running as their personal business and choice. And usually that’s a valid point of view.
But in the case of Windows XP and the fact that people running Windows XP are more of a danger to others than themselves, it’s no longer personal business and choice. Just like in a public health crisis, different rules apply because of the threat to the greater good, so here, new rules need to apply.
This is why we’re making available a printable flyer that explains the end of security support for Windows XP, what it means for someone running the OS, and what they should do about it.
The idea is that if you see someone running Windows XP, you can use this flyer to help them protect themselves and in so doing also help protect the Internet.
Whether it’s your friends, family, or businesses you patronise – any time you see someone running Windows XP, we hope you’ll take the time to help them understand the risks and do something about it.
Doing this isn’t just a public service. If you see your doctor’s office using Windows XP, for example, your personal and medical information are at direct risk. Saying something about this problem can potentially save you problems in the future as well.
We usually think of Internet security as something ‘other people’ take care of. And usually the professionals can take care of a lot of it.
But we are all part of the Internet and we all have a responsibility not just to ourselves but to each other to keep it as safe as possible. In this extraordinary time it really is appropriate to do something different. Regarding Windows® XP and the coming risks, if you see it, say it.
Christopher Budd is communications manager, Global Threat Communications, at Trend Micro Inc.
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