By 2020 hundreds of SMEs (small to medium business) across the UK will have outdated and vulnerable IT systems.
In 2018 Microsoft confirmed that over 184 million commercial PCs still run on the outdated platform Windows 7. 50% of these devices are used in SMEs 1 Windows 7 was released on the 22nd of July 2009, was well received and has since become one of the most iconic and beloved operating systems from Microsoft.
However, over the years the number of exploits has grown leveraging the vulnerabilities discovered in the legacy security components and technology within Windows 7. These for the time being are being diligently updated and monitored by Microsoft and IT teams worldwide to ensure that their customers are safe from malicious hacking attempts.
Updates for Windows 7 however will end on the 14th of January 2020. This means that there will be no updates to the security and will leave devices running Windows 7 vulnerable to attack. This happened in 2017 with the WannaCry ransomware attack. The attack played on the exploitation of systems that had reached its end of life (EOL) these included servers, desktops and operating system software, notably Windows XP. Due to the lack of updates and proactive measures in upgrading EOL software and equipment, over 200,000 devices in over 150 countries were infected causing an estimated £92m in damage through lost time and emergency upgrades to the NHS alone 2.
Upgrading to the latest operating system is however not the one stop solution for future proofing yourself, as many devices may not support updates to the full security standards. Many of these devices such as the incredibly popular small business server for SMEs, SBS 2011 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are on the EOL list.
Upgrading hardware and software can be an expensive endeavour but the cost of not upgrading can be a great deal worse. Have a talk with your IT support team to make sure that when your IT runs out, you keep going.