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Windows XP support ends TODAY – is your computer safe?

James Temperton
8 Apr 2014
Windows XP
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Microsoft is no longer releasing security updates for Windows XP, with security experts predicting an onslaught of attacks

Hackers will flock to Windows XP in an attempt to exploit new holes in Microsoft's redundant operating system, with security experts issuing an urgent warning for people to upgrade.

The 8 April deadline for Windows XP support has now passed, meaning that Microsoft will no longer release any security updates for it. In its last ever patch for XP the company fixed a critical flaw that allowed hackers to remotely execute code, potentially allowing criminals to take control of computers.

Security experts have compared Windows XP to "low hanging fruit", with hackers easily able to take advantage of new flaws.

"It's a lot easier to infect systems running on an old Windows XP operating system compared to brand-new Windows 8.1, with all its built-in security features," AV-Test group explained.

David Emm, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, issued a stark warning:

"Effectively, every vulnerability discovered after today will become a zero-day vulnerability – that is, one for which there is - and never will be - a patch.

"This problem will be compounded as application vendors stop developing updates for Windows XP. This will create an even greater attack surface, since every unpatched application will become a further potential point of compromise."

Emm added that there was no question that malware writers would target Windows XP more now Microsoft was no longer supporting it.

Despite more than 27 per cent of the world's computers still running versions of XP, Microsoft was right to pull support for it, according to Catalin Cosoi, chief security strategist at Bitdefender:

"The main security issue with XP is that its security model is ancient in terms of the internet, meaning hackers have had a lot of time to dig in and find flaws. This is why we believe Microsoft is correct in ending support for XP; it is old and buggy and belongs on the trash heap. Whether this means that people will stop running it, however, remains to be seen," he said.

Despite Microsoft abandoning XP, security companies are still supporting the aging operating system. AVG, Avast, Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Norton, Trend Micro and many others will continue to release updates and protect XP users for quite some time.

Still using Windows XP and want to stay safe? Our in-depth article explains what you need to do to keep your computer secure.

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