Thought Leadership

Windows 7 officially retires this week; but what does this mean for existing users?

By Paul Williams, Director 

This week, Microsoft has ceased to support Windows 7, meaning that it will no longer provide security updates to keep Windows 7 hardware secure.

But what does this mean?

Microsoft has planned for the retirement of Windows 7 for some time and this means that they will no longer be identifying and consequently fixing flaws and bugs in this older operating system. Without these software and security updates, PCs running on Windows 7 are more at risk from being infected by viruses and malware. Hackers are more likely to target unprotected systems to steal both personal and financial data and to spy on individuals without their knowledge.

According to data taken from StatCounter, around one in four Windows users are running Windows 7, meaning that many users could now be at risk of a security breach.

What should we do if we are still running Windows 7? 

Microsoft has stated that anyone still using Windows 7 should move to a supported operating system as soon as possible and have warned against users accessing their online banking or sending emails from a PC supporting the retired operating system.

Many people will recall the NHS’ entanglement with the WannaCry ransomware attack back in May 2017. This attack resulted in NHS data being encrypted by hackers who were demanding ransom payments in the form of Bitcoin cryptocurrency after they and many other businesses worldwide failed to move on from Windows XP when that system retired.

Since the cyber-attack, government officials have stated that, had the NHS upgraded its IT infrastructure from Windows XP to a supported operating system, the attack could have been avoided. 

According to an article in The Telegraph, the attack is said to have cost the NHS around £92m, due to the thousands of missed appointments during this time.

Will we see a change overnight? 

Windows 7 computers will continue to work but will gradually become less and less secure as compromises are identified, but not patched. The IT giant is urging customers to switch to Windows 10 as soon as possible. Although Windows 10 can run on Windows 7 hardware specifications, it is worth reviewing your hardware to ensure adequate performance and reliability into the future.

We are aware that many businesses rely exclusively on specific applications, which can only be run on Windows 7. If this is the case, businesses do have the option to continue receiving security updates for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise. This extended security support is chargeable and set to be available until 2023.

If you need to upgrade your computer systems, want to make sure your data is secure or would like to have a chat about how your existing infrastructure could be made more reliable, get in touch with a member of the Highstream team for a chat. 

The Highstream team is experienced in getting the best value out of technology within business environments and we have an experienced team who can confidently advise you on the best systems to keep your, and your business’ data, safe.

Contact one of the team via 01244 952 500 or information@highstream.co.uk to find out more.

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