Microsoft Ends Support for Windows XP Operating System

Joe Loucks

On July 18th In IP Solutions

As of this Spring Microsoft officially discontinued support for the Windows XP operating software. This means that there will be no further upgrades and more importantly no patches of newly found vulnerabilities in XP. Current statistics state that up to 34% of PCs, ATMs, and other IP devices in the world, constituting tens of millions of devices, are currently running on Windows XP. Because of this stoppage of support, it can be assumed that bad-guy hackers will redouble their efforts to find and exploit any possible methods to attack devices running Windows XP.

To show how quickly hackers are moving, it was recently announced that a security flaw in Windows Internet Explorer contained in versions 6 to 11 is being exploited to attack financial institutions and other businesses. While Microsoft did issue a patch for Internet Explorer running on XP machines, there are questions as to whether there will be any further patches issued to protect Windows XP devices in the future.

Many security dealers have installed Windows XP based devices in the past, with the software primarily running on NVRs, monitoring/viewing PCs, and video analytic devices. This stoppage of support for XP can cause your devices to be hacked when new attack software emerges from the underground. Also, keep in mind that if your device is connected to your client’s LAN and is not properly firewalled a successful penetration into a device such as an NVR might provide the platform from which the hacker can attack the client’s own system, files, and data.

These issues should raise some substantial liability concerns for video security installation companies. What should your firm do to protect your devices and your clients’ networks if you have Windows XP devices in their systems?

The first step is to identify every device that you’ve installed that runs Windows XP and at which clients’ locations. The second step is to contact the manufacturer(s) (assuming they are still around) and ask them whether the device can be upgraded to a more modern version of Windows. If you can upgrade the devices it is probably best that you do, because the later versions of Windows will be supported into the future.

It is also possible that the device cannot be upgraded, as it may not have the “horsepower” (RAM and computer speed) to properly run the newer versions of Windows. If this is the case, you will need to inform your clients of the necessity of reviewing their devices and determining whether the affected equipment needs to be replaced and/or upgraded. This might be a great opportunity to meet with your client and explain the benefits of some of the new IP electronic security technology that’s now available, and sell them an upgraded system.

In any case it would be prudent to inform any of your clients who have Windows XP devices installed by your company that the support for the operating system has ended, that you recommend that they upgrade their devices, and that your company cannot be responsible for any future failures/hacks of devices running XP. This notice should be put in writing and your office should keep copies in the event that you need to prove that your firm provided notification of this potential problem to your customers.

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