Why businesses should avoid using these outdated operating systems

How recently did your business update the operating systems running on its desktops, laptops and mobile devices? If you can’t actually remember, evidence suggests that you are in abundant company. Many businesses are thought to still have outdated software on their hardware.

However, none of this means that it would just be okay for you to leave your devices running outdated systems. Once an operating system (OS) is no longer supported by its vendor, this OS will be left without regular security updates. As a result, it will be vulnerable to increasingly sophisticated forms of cyber attack.

Here are just a few examples of operating systems for which ongoing software support has been relinquished – your cue to transition your workforce’s hardware to a newer and more secure OS.

Windows 7

Remember Windows 7? Your business probably never forgot it. More than a decade after originally releasing Windows 7, Microsoft pulled the plug on software support for it in January 2020 – even though, in 2019, 47% of small businesses were still using this OS, reports Business Money.

Unfortunately, the cut-off date was a case of especially bad timing for the many businesses that had unveiled plans to upgrade in 2020 but, it is believed, may have opted to postpone these plans due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CNET points out that almost all victims of the huge WannaCry ransomware attack that struck in 2017 were Windows 7 users – a sure sign that the OS was exploitable even several years ago.

Windows XP

Your business doesn’t necessarily need to be on the latest major release of Windows – that’s Windows 10 – to be relatively well-protected against cyber attacks. If any of your workforce’s computers use Windows 8.1, rest assured that extended support for this is currently set to continue until January 2023.

However, nothing similar can be said of the now practically ancient (by tech standards, at least) Windows XP – which, according to the above-mentioned Business Money report, 1% of very small businesses were still using in 2019. This particular Windows version has been denied extended support from Microsoft since 2014.

Android 8, 9 and 10

While Android – the most widely-used OS worldwide – is on many devices used by employees of the US government, a mere 0.08% of these devices run the latest Android version, says one report mentioned by TechRepublic. That’s Android 11 – about a fifth of devices were found to still be using Android 8.

This is worrying, as Android 8 – originally released in 2017 – today has more than 636 known vulnerabilities, making it a major security risk. If your company uses devices still running Android 8, you should update to the latest version or invest in new devices that come with it preinstalled.

You should also train your workers to recognize phishing attacks. You could even implement – across all of your company’s desktops, laptops and mobile devices – cybersecurity software from a specialist company like Wandera to further catch out phishing attempts as well as any other cyber threats, including man-in-the-middle and malware attacks.

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