Failing to keep computer software updated is a leading cause of cyber-attacks. Developers constantly keep their software updated to improve usability, but also to improve cyber-security. If a programme or app is out of date, cyber-criminals may be able to exploit it to launch a cyber-attack.
But sometimes, developers stop supporting certain software. Microsoft, for instance, tends to stop supporting older Windows operating systems in favour of the newer iterations.
Does this mean that older Windows operating systems are unsafe, and vulnerable to cyber-attacks? In this post, we’ll explore whether it’s safe to use older versions of Windows, including Windows 7, 8, XP, and Vista.
Is It Safe to Use Windows 7?
Microsoft stopped supporting Windows 7 in January 2020. This means that there has not been a security update for this OS for more than three years.
Is It Safe to Use Windows 8?
Official Microsoft support for Windows 8 ended on 10 January 2023. A computer running Windows 8 or 8.1 should still be relatively stable. But you will no longer receive any official security updates.
Is It Safe to Use Windows Vista?
Microsoft stopped supporting Windows Vista in 2017. Though a major benefit of using Vista was its secure User Account Control features, any computer that’s not received an official OS security patch in six years will be more vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks.
Is It Safe to Use Windows XP?
Windows XP reached its end of life in 2014. As should be clear by now, this means that any device still running Windows XP is likely to be vulnerable to cyber breaches.
Can I Continue Using Old Versions of Windows After Microsoft Keeps Supporting Them?
Yes, you can. But should you? A device running on Windows XP, or any other old version of Windows, can be perfectly functional and stable. But the lack of ongoing security support is a major reason to upgrade – particularly if you’re using your computer for business purposes.
Using an old, unsupported operating system can make you more vulnerable to cyber attacks. If you don’t upgrade to a more secure system, are you doing your due diligence in keeping your business, your data, and your customers safe?
How To Stay Safe Online (If You’re Using an Older Operating System)
If you cannot – or will not – upgrade to a newer and more secure version of Windows, there are still a few things you can do to keep yourself safe online:
- Keep Your Antivirus Software Up To Date. If you can’t update your OS, then you should at least commit to updating your antivirus software. That way, it’ll be able to recognise and protect you from the latest cybersecurity risks, even if your OS cannot.
- Use a VPN. A virtual private network (VPN) creates a secure network between your device and the websites you visit. This can help keep your data encrypted while you browse, which can make it harder for cybercriminals to find and exploit your personal details.
- Use a password manager. Don’t use the same password for every site and service you use. With a good password manager, you can create unique, and highly secure, passwords for every account. Here’s a guide to some of the best password managers out there.
- Understand the risks you face online. Read our guide to the different types of cyber-attacks. Also read our guide on what you should do if you think you’ve clicked a phishing link.
Get Dedicated Cybersecurity Insurance
With specialist cyber insurance cover, you’ll have the support of cyber security experts who’ll help you effectively respond to a cyber-attack. This support can make it more likely that you’ll recover your systems, your data, your integrity, and your reputation. So if you’re still using an unsupported operating system, cyber insurance can offer an essential line of defence.
If you want to discuss your cyber security risks, we have a team of experts on hand to help. Call us on 0208 290 9080 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.