Security support for Windows XP ended back in April, but that system is still running on almost 25% of computers. But XP systems account for 52% of computers infected with botnets. This isn’t surprising, one of the reasons Windows gave for ending XP support is that the system was insecure and accounted for the majority of security patches that Microsoft issued, more than Vista, 7 and Windows 8 combined.
Many of these attacks seem to be coming from Eastern Europe. Why is XP such a popular target? First of all, there’s no security support for what was already an insecure operating system and secondly since XP has been around for a long time, the crooks have learned how to attack it.
Any time there’s a patch for an issue in Windows 7 or 8, crooks can reverse-engineer that patch to see if there’s a way to apply it to Windows XP systems. And criminals also assume that those running a system without security support, might be a lax about PC security.
Remember, just because there’s a botnet infecting your system, it isn’t necessarily going to do anything to make itself known. This crafty piece of malware wants to use your computer to infect other computers by getting into your contacts list and attaching itself to emails sent to your friends. Once a botnet makes itself at home, it can begin to install other pieces of malware on your system. You’ve turned into a hatchery for all types of icky stuff.
Even if you have up-to-date security software, it will not be able to protect XP against new threats. Microsoft provided much of the information needed to eradicate viruses for good from Windows to the security companies, but they are not providing that information anymore.
If you are still using an XP system, do yourself and everyone else a big favor and keep it offline.