Millions of Windows XP users are now left vulnerable to malware attacks as Microsoft has decided to terminate support and security updates for Microsoft Security Essentials package for Windows XP.
For those of you who don’t know, Microsoft announced more than a year ago, on the 8th of April 2014 that the support for Windows XP’s security update has been officially ended, this means all those users who are running Windows XP on their systems are vulnerable because the potential security weaknesses are not being patched.
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On the other hand, Microsoft Security Essentials, a free antivirus solution by Microsoft, continued to receive constant security and antimalware signature updates because of the peer pressure from the corporate companies and users who were still planning to upgrade their systems to an advanced and secure operating system.
But then again, on July 14th 2015, the company decided to officially end the support for their antivirus and antimalware software i.e. Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) as well as the Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT). From this point forward, there won’t be any updates and support for Windows XP.
For those who are still running Windows XP on their systems, Microsoft said:
“If you continue to use Windows XP now that support has ended, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Internet Explorer 8 is also no longer supported, so if your Windows XP PC is connected to the Internet and you use Internet Explorer 8 to surf the web, you might be exposing your PC to additional threats. Also, as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter more apps and devices that do not work with Windows XP.”
While warning the Windows XP users, Microsoft said that the Windows will continue to operate and run on your system but running an unsupported version of operating system can be very risky because:
“An unsupported version of Windows will no longer receive software updates from Windows Update. These include security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software, which can steal your personal information.”
Security of OS is one of the most crucial part but, according to the statistic and report published by Andra Zaharia of Heimdal Security, this unfriendly move by Microsoft has leftover 12 percent or 180 million users without any security, making them more vulnerable to persistent spyware and malware attacks.
Nevertheless, Windows XP users can still install third-party antimalware solutions on their systems to protect themselves from the potential vulnerabilities, but the company advised that all those computer systems running this specific version of operating system will remain unprotected due to unpatched security loopholes.
Microsoft said in their antimalware support document for Windows XP:
“While the anti-malware updates enable the ability to detect and block certain malware on Windows XP PCs, it is important to note that since the underlying vulnerability in the Windows XP operating system will not be patched with a new security update, a new strain of malware attacking the same vulnerability may not be detected in the future and may be able to infect the PC.”
You can still use third party anti-malware software
Microsoft is trying their best to cut down the overall market share of Windows XP by forcing users to move to the latest and much-advanced OS like Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Though, there is a large number of users who are still running Windows XP because upgrading would require them to invest into new hardware too.