The end of support for Windows XP could mean a security nightmare for those still using the operating system. XP is stable and loved by many of its users. It has a nearly 40% share of desktop operating systems, despite the fact that supports ends in April of 2014.
The end of Microsoft support means the end of security updates and bug fixes for the operating system and with so many millions of users ripe for the picking, that means those users will be a prime target for creators of malicious programs.
One of Microsoft’s top priorities is to convince businesses to leave XP behind before support ends. That would mean changing over nearly 600,000 PCs a day before April. XP is less secure than Windows 7 or 8 already and hackers may also be able to use security updates released for Windows 7 and 8 to reverse engineer ways to attack Windows XP.
Tim Rains from Microsoft explained how that could happen in a blog post:
“The very first month that Microsoft releases security updates for supported versions of Windows, attackers will reverse engineer those updates, find the vulnerabilities and test Windows XP to see if it shares those vulnerabilities. If it does, attackers will attempt to develop exploit code that can take advantage of those vulnerabilities on Windows XP. Since a security update will never become available for Windows XP to address these vulnerabilities, Windows XP will essentially have a “zero day” vulnerability forever.”
He pointed out that Windows XP was the affected product in 45 Microsoft security bulletins between July 2012 and July 2013. He went on to say that the security built into Windows XP is no longer sufficient to hold off modern attacks and that the infection rate for Windows XP is much higher than for Windows 7 and Windows 8.
Rains has earlier said, “Windows XP was a great operating system in its time and provided value to a large number of people and organizations around the world for over a decade. But all good things must come to an end.”