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XP Holdout – How Can I Stay Safe Online?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 by | Filed Under: Security Help

Ari writes:

I will not be bullied into giving up XP. For those of us who can’t or won’t make the change, what can we do to stay safe online?

Ari, you aren’t going to be completely safe online without Microsoft offering security support for the product. While XP is a stable operating system, it’s not a particularly secure one.  XP machines were six times more likely to be infected with Malware and that was back when Microsoft was still offering security support. I would suggest switching to a newer version of Windows or perhaps running dual-boot with Ubuntu and keeping XP offline.

Any advice on keeping XP more secure is a bit like advice on keeping your house safe without locking the door. So this is a like telling you how to put a chair against an unlocked door to keep out thieves.  But there are a few things you can try:

Keep a third-party security software and malware program running. I would recommend using a paid subscription software, as opposed to a free version, as the paid versions will often allow for real-time protection and additional security. Do checks and updates every day. While these companies won’t be receiving new information from Microsoft, your security programs can still go after known threats. Some security programs say they will still actively try to detect new Windows XP threats, but without access to critical information about the program from Microsoft, they will not be able to permanently patch any of these threats. So like a cold, these bugs can come back again and again and again.

Make sure you have your firewall turned on. You’ll find it in your Control Panel.

Switch to Google Chrome or Firefox for your browser. Definitely do not use Internet Explorer 8. It’s old and creaky and insecure. Chrome says it will do its best to keep XP safe for an additional year. Make sure to change your default browser from IE.

Be very careful what types of e-mails you open and what sites you go to. Also, protect your friends and family and be very careful what you forward them or don’t forward them any files at all from your computer. Your computer could turn into Typhoid Mary. It may not look or feel sick, but it could pass bugs along.

Create a user account that does not have administrative privileges and use that account. A limited account will not be able to install any programs and that can offer protection from some types of threats.

 These tips will keep your system somewhat safer, but not safe. Every time Microsoft issues security patches for Windows 7, hackers can use that update to try to find similar flaws in Windows XP that won’t be patched.  XP computers are especially vulnerable. Good luck.

~ Cynthia

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5 Responses to “XP Holdout – How Can I Stay Safe Online?”

  1. MarkJ says:

    Good advice Cynthia. A couple of other things that would help: Don’t have any sensitive data, like your financial information, on the computer. And never use it to access any sensitive data online, like don’t go to your bank’s web site etc.

    It would also be good to isolate the computer from the rest of your network, though I can’t imagine anyone that knows how to do this being so stuck on running XP. Also anyone that would know how to do this would probably have already switched the computer to some version of Linux, it would be safer and run better on the old hardware.

  2. […] Windows XP back in April and it’s just not possible to keep that system truly secure online. There are things you can do to make it a little safer, but ultimately, it’s not safe for […]

  3. […] To be fair, Vista came out 8 years ago and Windows 7 and 8.1 are far more stable operating systems.  But I understand that you love your XP and I don’t mind if you keep it and move it on to new computers. But you should not go online with XP.  It isn’t safe and you could end up having important information compromised or losing that wonderful set-up where you have everything organized the way you want it.  Here’s an article with some suggestions for staying safer with XP. […]

  4. Paul E Taylor Jr says:

    Besides a good anti-virus & firewall I would suggest that you also have Malwarebytes Anti-Malware on your PC You can find good deals sometimes under $20 and that is lifetime upgrades It will block dangerous sites as well as finding malware & even spyware etc. Be sure to run the full program daily to make sure you have nothing harmful on your computer

  5. David W says:

    Spyhunter4 is real good for keeping your pc from malware along with Malwarebytes.

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