Microsoft Corp has revealed that PCs running on its Windows XP operating system is up to six times more possibly be hacked than those with Windows 7 and Windows 8 OS. The software giant made the disclosure at the recent RSA Conference held in Amsterdam.
About two-thirds or 67% of malware that are aimed at Windows 7 could also effectively affect Windows XP. This is why most security experts advise PC users against holding on to the old OS longer. The company is also warning Windows XP users that cybercriminals could more likely take advantage of that weakness.
Microsoft has admitted that the 12-year-old OS could not mitigate anymore most of the security threats that sophisticated attackers use. The company warned that this could be worse when it finally ends support for Windows XP by April 8, 2014, when Microsoft officially makes the OS obsolete.
Targeting XP users
According to IT experts, it is possible that criminal hackers would continue targeting users of Windows XP before and after April 8. This is because many consumers remain clueless about the real consequence of the security risks. Moreover, thousands of businesses intend to continue using Windows XP PCs even after April 8 for operational and even economic reasons.
Each time Microsoft releases new security patches for its Windows 7 and/or Windows 8, hackers obtain new lists of security holes that would never be patched in XP devices. The company issues those patches every first Tuesday of every month. Thus, until the specified date next year, there would be more security holes and issues that would arise on the old OS.
Extent of damage
The extent of possible damages is still significant. There are about 1.3 billion PCs using Windows OS across the globe today. Of those, 21% use Windows XP, based on estimates by StatCounter. According to NetMarketShare, if the PCs that regularly access the Internet would be considered, up to 31% of PCs are still running on Windows XP.
Microsoft has also stuck with XP for the longest period compared to other OS versions. For instance, the company cut support for Windows NT eight years after its launch. Windows 2000 had been active for 11 years before it was ditched. By April next year, Windows XP would have been operational for more than 13 years.
It was in October 2001 when Microsoft launched Windows XP. Many are still hoping that Microsoft would further extend the life of the OS. However, most sources and insiders are certain that the company would stick to its timetable..