Avast Warns of Widespread Security Issues Once Microsoft Abandons XP

Paul Lilly

Microsoft is making a mistake to hang XP out to dry, Avast says

Avast COO Ondrej Vlcek doesn't think Microsoft is doing Windows users a solid by discontinuing support for Windows XP next month. Vlcek digitally inked a cautionary blog post warning Microsoft that turning its back on XP is a "big mistake" that will have negative repercussions not only for XP users, but for the "whole ecosystem." As it stands, Microsoft is planning to end support for XP on April 8, 2014.

"Tens of millions of PCs running XP connected to the Internet, unpatched and without security updates, are just waiting to be exploited," Vlcek warns . "The vulnerable OS will be an easy target for hackers and be seen as a gateway to infect other non-XP operating systems. Our telemetry data shows that XP users are 6 times more likely to get attacked than Windows 7 users and once Microsoft stops issuing patches, this can worsen."

In addition, Avast says its own database reveals that 23.6 percent of its 200 million users are still running Windows XP, which indicates that Microsoft hasn't been successful in transitioning legacy users to newer systems. This in itself is going to leave a lot of Windows users as sitting ducks.

It's not just home users who are at risk, either. According to Vlcek, more than 9 out of 10 ATMs still run XP, as do many medical offices that store confidential patient information and stores that retain customer details, such as credit card numbers.

To help deal with the upcoming threats, Avast says it's committed to supporting XP for at least the next three years. Avast will also create protection modules and detections specifically designed for XP.

"We have already taken additional steps in our latest product release, Avast! 2014, by making the product lighter, both in terms of speed and resource consumption, tailoring it for older machines still running Windows XP. In addition to the security value, avast! 2014 is offered for free, which is especially important for XP users," Vlcek added.

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