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The Risks in Using Unsupported Operating Systems

written by: Donna Buenaventura•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 2/4/2011

What are the risks in using Windows 2000 and XP SP2 (x86)? Consider intrusion detection system protection for windows 2000 and XP SP2: Are there security solutions that will protect your business when running unsupported operating systems?

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    End of Support for XP SP2 (x86) and Windows 2000

    Microsoft Windows 2000 wordmark Windows 2000 is no longer supported by Microsoft. Its mainstream and extended support ended on June 30, 2005, and July 13, 2010, respectively. The Service Pack support for the 32-bit edition of Windows XP SP2 was retired on July 13, 2010. The 64-bit edition of XP SP2 will continue to receive support only until April 8, 2014.

    Consumers, business users, and software developers using Windows 2000 and Windows XP SP2 (x86) will no longer receive updates for security fixes and non-security hotfixes.

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/es:Usuario:Eligna

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    The Risks in Using Unsupported Operating Systems

    200px-Windows XP wordmark.svg There are risks in using Windows 2000 and XP SP2 (x86) because you will no longer receive product support, bug fixes, and patch releases. Any known and unknown vulnerabilities affecting the unsupported operating systems create risk of losing data from attackers of vulnerable OS.

    Other risks from using Windows XP SP2 (x86) and Windows 2000 occur whenever malware creators release malicious codes targeting unsupported and unpatched operating systems. Over time, the software developers and security software vendors offering protection for unsupported OS will also stop providing detection signatures and product support. With that in mind, any malware targeting old OS puts you at risk of losing your data. The worst scenario is when your clients' data are stolen by malware attackers.

    In Secunia Half Year Report 2010*, Apple OS is the Top #1 in the list of vendors with most vulnerabilities. Oracle comes in second place while Microsoft holds the third position. Other vendors in the list are HP, Adobe Systems, IBM, VMWare, Cisco, Google, and Mozilla. The report also mentions, "On average, 10 vendors are responsible for 38% of the vulnerabilities per year." This is a big concern even if we have supported platforms or applications installed in the computer and we depend on product support, security fixes, and non-security hotfixes to help protect the computer and data. The use of operating systems that are no longer supported will bring more problems than supported OS are facing.

    *PDF Format of Secunia Half Year Report 2010:

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Microsoft Corporation

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    Security Solutions for XP SP2 and Windows 2000

    To date, most security software vendors continue to provide security solutions and protection for XP SP2 (x86) and Windows 2000. Malware detection signature and Intrusion detection system protection for Windows 2000 and XP SP2 are still available but should not be use as permanent solutions. The reason is that a continuous change of signatures is needed to mitigate new threats. If your OS is unsupported, and if the virus and intrusion detection system signatures are not capable of using new technology to protect your business and data against new threats, the security solution obviously will fail to protect your business.

    You can read about top-rated security solutions for your office and business as provided by Trend Micro, Symantec, and McAfee.

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    No security solution or new security program is going to prevent the risks of running vulnerable, unsupported operating systems and applications. The first defense has not changed, and that is to continue updating the needed applications and operating system for your business. Plan to migrate to a newer system, and demand that your IT administrators ensure compatibility of business applications before migrating to a supported operating system.