Last week, I wrote about Upgrading from Windows XP, but what if you are unable to upgrade?
Last month, Microsoft made good on its word that it was going to pull the plug on Windows XP support. While we don’t recommend staying on an outdated or unsupported operating system, in some cases it’s necessary to leave the lights on. Maybe you have a legacy application or custom program that’s not compatible with this newfangled world of widgets and touchscreens, or maybe you have some mission-critical hardware that you can’t find Windows 7 or 8 drivers for. Maybe you’re just plain old-fashioned.
Follow these tips and tricks to beat the system:
- Consider third-party support offerings like Arkoon’s EXP. Arkoon also offers coverage for applications like Adobe, Java and other browsers, a boon to your business’s security, since hackers often target these programs.
- If your network isn’t already protected by an intrusion-detection or prevention system, consider doing so. If you’re aware of an attack you’ll be able to quickly isolate XP machines. While we’re on the subject, make sure your contingency plan includes a section specific to machines running XP.
- There have been a couple of other blog Schneider Downs blog posts on this topic. Kathryn Foradori suggests giving users another way to check email and surf the web. Chris Debo warns IT administrators about the security implications of sticking with XP. Using terminal services to access networked resources provides an alternative means of surfing the web and checking email, and mitigates much of the risk associated with running XP.
- For applications that require XP to run, restrict access to the machine and make sure the user(s) accessing it only have enough security for what they need to do. In other words, no one should be installing new programs, and most importantly NO ONE SHOULD BE LOGGING INTO THAT MACHINE AS ADMIN! Also, as mentioned above, this machine should not be used to browse the internet or check email. I’d recommend removing the browser and email client altogether. If you absolutely need to have a browser on this machine, do not use Internet Explorer because the latest version does not support XP. Instead, consider using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
- Start planning an upgrade to a newer version of Windows. This may require upgrading other software or purchasing new hardware and will definitely require end-user training. When IT auditors see an outdated or unsupported operating system, they always recommend upgrading.
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