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Why Governments Need to Upgrade from Windows XP

VC3 Marketing

April 8, 2014. That was the day that XP died.

Well, technically, XP didn’t die on that fateful day; just its support from Microsoft. Even more than four years later, XP still has its fair share of use in the market.

Just look at the latest NetMarketShare report that stated while the market share of XP hit an all-time low of 3.81% in February 2018, since then it has actually rebounded to 5.04%.

Windows XP market share March 2018
(Source: NetMarketShare)

That makes you think, doesn’t it? Who is still using Windows XP, and is it okay to do so?

In our experience, that answer is no; especially in the government-space.

Why Governments Need to Upgrade from Windows XP

1) No Support

A common objection we often hear is, “I’ve never called Microsoft for support anyway, so I won’t be missing anything.”

Believe it or not, those annoying patches and updates from Microsoft are part of the support that actually protects the software from vulnerabilities — i.e. hackers. Once those stop flowing in, your XP computer becomes a playground for these folks.

And once the support of your operating system ceases, so does the support of other software applications running on it, exponentially increasing your risks.

Most government institutions run their workstations on a common network of some kind, and guess what; hackers will use the vulnerable XP machine to springboard deeper into your infrastructure to compromise newer workstations, servers, and databases for theft or general maliciousness.

2) Liability and Compliance

Because of the absence of security updates and patches, continuing to run outdated, unsupported software puts your government institution at risk.

Lenovo published a white paper that explains how the UK’s Data Protection Act and the data privacy laws of 46 US states enforce the notion that an organization must practice due diligence in the protection of private information.

“Given the publicity and common knowledge around the Windows XP EOL date and its potential impacts, using Windows XP may at the very least cast doubt that an organization was being ‘duly diligent.'”

Ignoring this means an organization can face substantial liability issues, not to mention a violation of various industry-specific compliance regulations such as HIPAA and PCI.

3) Cost of Upgrades

A common complaint of upgrading software is that the current software has already been fully capitalized and represents no additional expense. But an upgrade results in expenses for both the purchase of the new or upgraded application as well as the implementation and migration services.

This may be the case, but what about the hidden costs of not upgrading to a supported Windows Operating System?

The Lenovo white paper also reveals that even though running Windows XP may not incur an actual expense, the support and user non-productivity may easily outweigh the cost of an upgrade.

The white paper references data from IDC (a global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets), that illustrates the administrative costs of Windows XP are much higher than current Windows platforms.

At VC3, we upgrade clients to Windows 10, but even upgrading to Windows 7 is beneficial.

“…the average IT time to handle operational activities (patches, user administration, security activities, maintaining images, etc.) is about 3.0 hours per PC for a Windows XP system and only 0.9 hours for Windows 7, based on IDC data. And it doesn’t end there. IDC says the average IT hours per PC for downtime total is 2.9 for Windows XP and 0.6 hours for Windows 7.”

If you couple this, with the costs of the user who is actually unable to work during this time, the hidden costs of Windows XP add up pretty quickly.

4) Government Private Databases are Left Wide Open to Hackers

We’ve mentioned the inherent risk of maintaining Windows XP devices in your government agency, but the threat is more serious than just simply stating that you are left wide open to hackers.

Just consider the vital data that a government body must protect. Municipal governments alone are likely to have databases full of social security numbers, payroll information, police or court records.

All of this data is at risk due to your Windows XP devices.

According to an Accenture study of 3,500 US citizens, 74% of respondents, cited a “lack of confidence in government’s ability to keep their data private and secure.”

Those worries are justified, especially if their data is protected by unsupported, Windows XP devices.

Worried about your cyber security?

Get Started with Upgrading Your Government Institution’s Windows XP Devices

Unfortunately, operating systems aren’t like cars; they never truly become “classics” or “antiques” and manufacturers won’t continue creating ways to allow the consumer to maintain them.

In tech years, Windows XP had a good 12+ year life, and we have all enjoyed it to the fullest. Now that it’s time to let it go, how will you handle the transition?

If cyber attackers are already taking advantage of your weaknesses due to Windows XP, you cannot afford to wait any longer. Contact VC3 today to get started with upgrading your Windows XP computers and improving your cyber security infrastructure.