In a media statement yesterday, Microsoft Malaysia revealed that there are some 3.6 Million PCs in Malaysia still running Windows XP.
Microsoft reminded customers that it will officially retire service and support for Windows XP on 8 April 2014. After this date, Microsoft will no longer provide automatic fixes, updates, or online technical assistance for Windows XP. This also means that users will no longer receive security updates that help protect PCs from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software that can steal personal information.
With this deadline exactly one year away, it is essential for SMBs and consumers in Malaysia to migrate from XP, an eleven-year-old operating system, to avoid vulnerabilities and risks that have the potential to cause business disruption and extra costs.
According to Danny Ong, Chief Marketing and Operations Officer of Microsoft Malaysia, “While XP was one of the most popular operating systems in Microsoft’s history, it was not designed to handle the challenges of today, such as the increased exposure to cyber-attacks and demands for more data privacy, unlike our newer operating systems such as Windows 7 and 8. By far, the security risk is the most concerning for customers as there are more sophisticated forms of attack which can impact safety of personal information and the hidden costs associated with support and business continuity.”
In March 2013, according to StatCounter, Windows XP still makes up 20.39% of PCs in Malaysia with a steady rate of decline since Windows 7 was launched in October 2009. That equates to over 3.6 million PCs . StatCounter data also shows that about 60% of PCs in Malaysia are already on Windows 7 and in the last two months, there’s been an uptake of Windows 8 as well.
Industry analysts are all in agreement that now is the time to upgrade from the decade old software:
IDC: “Windows XP has been a major platform that both consumers and business alike have depended on for many, many years now,” says Bryan Ma, Associate Vice President of Client Devices Research at IDC Asia/Pacific. “And yet with the termination of extended support for XP looming ahead, it is important that preparations be made to migrate to newer versions of the OS in order to make sure that users can continue to rely on their systems.”
Frost & Sullivan: Alan Tong, Director, Asia Pacific, Frost & Sullivan commented, “The increasing new technology in mobile computing and the sophistication of network security attacks will test the performance of XP when the support ceases. Enterprises need to consider the functional costs and the vulnerability of their PCs if they continue with the existing OS.”
Dr. Amirudin Abdul Wahad, CEO of Cybersecurity Malaysia, commented, “Whether you’re an SMB or consumer in Malaysia, the dangers of continued use of XP are real and the risks should not be under-estimated. Windows XP is three generations behind Microsoft’s most modern operating system so continuing to use PCs with XP is similar to driving a car without a seat belt or a motorbike without a helmet. The risks are real and the only way to protect yourself and the organization is to upgrade.”
According to the findings of Microsoft’s Security Intelligence Report, Volume 13, released in June 2012, Windows XP with SP3 is three times more vulnerable than Windows 7 SP1.
Over the last decade, security threats have escalated in a number of ways:
- Malware: Increased from 1,000 in 1991 to millions in 2012 and has become an online crime story. Computer threats include viruses, worms, trojans, exploits, backdoors, password stealers, spyware, and other variations of potentially unwanted software.
- Fake Virus Alerts: Rogue security software is the latest in major infections, where a virus will download itself on to a computer automatically and show up as a legitimate virus alert. It will then create pop-up windows on a user’s screen that show alerts that your system has been infected with the need to run a scan immediately. When the user clicks on the scan button, the virus will infect the rest of the computer. Rogue security software might also attempt to spoof the Microsoft security update process.
- Hacktivism: According to IDC, denial of service (DoS) and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are re-emerging as a threat to businesses and organizations of late. In 2012, there was a sharp increase in the frequency, bandwidth volume, and applications orientation of these attacks, and organizations were often caught unaware. Such attacks, loosely referred to as ‘hacktivism’, increased nearly 70% in the first six months of 2012 vs. the same period in 2011, according to statistics released by Prolexic, a Hollywood, Florida-based website defence firm.
In addition to the severe security issues, continued use of XP poses additional threats including compliance issues such as encryption, hashing, and signing, while more than 60% of independent software vendors and modern browsers no longer support XP.
As part of a campaign to encourage the upgrade to Windows 8, Microsoft advises SMB customers to look out for special offers from their resellers in the next few months.