With the end of support for Windows XP looming in less than 40 days, the wider world is waking up to threats posed by the outdated operating system’s demise. Advocates in the financial and health care industries in particular have started sounding the alarm about XP’s April 8th expiration date — and for good measure.
Bloomberg Businessweek reported in January that more than 95% of the United States’ ATM machines still run on Windows XP. Once security updates and compatibility fixes end on April 8th, any machine still running the OS will be susceptible to malware and other cyberattacks. Given the recent rash of data breaches affecting millions of consumers’ credit card info, that should terrify any ATM user.
Scarier still? Aravinda Korala, CEO of ATM software provider KAL, says he expects only 15% of bank ATMs in the US to be upgraded to Windows 7 by April 8th. Even the Federal Reserve has issued explicit warnings about possible security problems, particularly at community banks: “Some community banks have ignored aging XP systems and deferred the decision to switch operating systems… These banks are now faced with running applications using an operating system that will be very expensive to maintain.”
In the health-care realm, the writing is clearly on the wall with headlines like this one from TechRepublic.com: “Running Windows XP mean you are non-compliant and open to liability.” As CMIT Solutions has outlined before, compliance with new HIPAA rules released in September 2013 is imperative for businesses that have any contact with electronic health records (EHR) or protected health information (PHI). And Section 164.308(a)(5)(ii)(b) of the newly enhanced HIPAA Security Rule states that all businesses handling confidential patient data in the form of EHR or PHI must have “procedures for guarding against, detecting, and reporting malicious software.”
So what’s the best plan of action to deal with the death of Windows XP?
• If your workstations are as outdated as Windows XP, purchasing a new line of machines probably makes the most sense. Yes, it requires an investment up front — but CMIT offers leasing and financing options that can reduce the impact of a switch to new PCs. And Microsoft estimates that a move to Windows 7 will produce a return on investment (ROI) of $1,400 in three years. One security lapse with your XP environment could cost that much — and if you’re operating in the financial or health care industries, non-compliance penalties incurred because of problems with XP could be much steeper.
• Don’t assume that a computer is safe if it’s not connected to the Internet or a network. Any machine running XP will be at risk after April 8th — not to mention that one infected thumb drive can wreak havoc on even the most isolated system.
• Consider upgrading from Exchange Server 2003 and Server 2003 as well. Like XP, Microsoft will end support for Exchange Server 2003 on April 8th, with Server 2003 expiring in July 2015. If you’re running either of these two programs in tandem with XP, failing to upgrade could put your entire computing environment — and the health of your business — at risk.
Want to increase productivity, avoid security issues, and save money? Now’s the time to move on from Windows XP. With less than 40 days to go until support ends for the OS on April 8th, CMIT Solutions can help with financing, implementation, and world-class support. Learn more at www.TheDeathOfXP.com.