The risks of using Windows 7 after support ends

Aug 26, 2019 | Windows

On January 13, 2015, Microsoft stopped mainstream support for their Windows 7 operating system (OS). This means all end users will no longer get complimentary support, design changes, or non-critical security updates for their software. While small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) still using Windows 7 can purchase extended support for the Professional and Enterprise editions until January 2023, users of Home Premium and lower editions will end on January 14, 2020.

Is it okay to use Windows 7 after its end of life?

Mainstream support for Windows 7 ended years ago, but it remains the second most popular version of the operating system today, accounting for over 31% of Windows users worldwide as of July 2019. According to Microsoft, Windows 7 can still be activated or used after January 2020 as long as the available updates and security patches are installed. But they also recommend that all users upgrade to Windows 10, especially since it is still in its mainstream support stage.

Possible risks of not upgrading from Windows 7

More security risks

Cybercriminals will take advantage of the fact that support for Windows 7 is ending and that any vulnerabilities discovered after January 2020 will not be patched. Then, they’ll swoop in and exploit weaknesses in unpatched Windows 7 machines.

Working on a computer with an obsolete operating system exposes your business files to ransomware and other malicious software. In case of a ransomware infection, you’ll need to isolate your infected data from other computers and files within your network and reformat or replace the infected machine since its outdated OS no longer has support from the developers.

Lack of compliance

If your company has to adhere to industry regulations like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations), PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), or any ordinances for government or financial institutions, it will automatically become noncompliant if you’re still using unsupported software beyond the Windows 7 end-of-life date. The consequences of noncompliance may include legal fees or fines, and long-lasting harm to your business’s profitability and reputation.

Software might not work well

If your enterprise updates the programs and applications installed on Windows 7 PCs, the updated programs might not even run at all. That’s because software developers create applications that need to be compatible with and will work optimally only on the latest operating systems.

Future-proof your IT infrastructure now

The bottom line is that unsupported systems are not just prone to current cyberattacks, but also to more advanced attacks in the future. Microsoft will continue to create new operating systems and cut off support for older software within a few years after they are released. You can protect your network by keeping your software and operating system up to date.

This is an opportunity to shop around for new software and equipment that will empower your employees to work more efficiently and faster than before. You might discover better options for your company, and you will ask yourself why you didn’t upgrade your systems sooner.

Cyber Shift Technologies has known IT for over a decade, and our engineers continue to help businesses across different industries solve IT issues or implement custom-built solutions. Get in touch with us today, and shift your IT into high gear.

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