Microsoft ends security support for Windows XP

(WZZM) -- You might be surprised to learn that Tuesday, millions of computers, maybe one in your own home, will be less secure from attack.

As of April 8, Microsoft is discontinuing free security updates to computers using Windows XP. The operating system is 12 years old and Microsoft wants computer users to move on to newer, more secure systems. The problem is although the April 8th date has been known for some time, over a quarter of the world's computers are still using XP. That makes those computers and the internet less secure.

Businesses and governments have been hit the hardest. They have had two years to move their computers off XP and into Windows 7 or 8. Most of the local governments we talked to say they are ready for the change even though not all computers have been upgraded. Both Kent and Muskegon Counties have moved 90% of the computers off XP. In many cases, the remaining 10% have software that will only run off Windows XP. They will eventually be switched over and for now have been isolated from the rest of their networks.

The State of Michigan is in a similar situation with security officials saying the systems are secured and they are prepared for the XP issue. The state has a secure facility that monitors their computers and websites. They are hit by various attempts to hack into the system or plant viruses about 500,000 times a day.

Chief Security Officer Dan Lorhmann says they can come in a wide variety of forms, everything from emails, websites that employees shouldn't be going to, to people breaking into the network looking for holes and vulnerabilities. Michigan's conversion is only halfway there but it is paying Microsoft $270,000 to continue to provide security support for another year.

Lorhman says most big businesses seem prepared for the transition but he is concerned about smaller businesses that might not have the resources or even know to be prepared. If you have a personal computer using XP, it will continue to work, but experts say it will have increasing vulnerability to viruses and hackers.

So you can do nothing, or upgrade. If your computer is much older it may be better to buy a new computer.


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