Botnet XP: The Coming Storm

Just another PSA:

GET OFF OF WINDOWS XP.  There is absolutely no excuse to continue running Windows XP, and once April 8th, 2014 (that’s next Tuesday, by the way) rolls around, it’s going to be bad news for the IT world in general, if you ask me.  Predictions are always difficult to make, but I think it’s a safe bet that we will see a very quick ramping up of attacks against (and then subsequently perpetrated by) Windows XP machines.

You see, hackers (read: criminals) are hoarding knowledge about Windows XP vulnerabilities and waiting for April 8th when Microsoft officially turns a blind eye to the operating system.  Once that’s done, these criminals are going to be even more interested than usual in getting a hold of these XP systems out in the wild.  Should they succeed, they will have on their hands systems which have a very high likelihood of remaining compromised for a long time.  Only upgrading the OS to Windows 7 or 8 will resolve the issue at that point, and given that the target machines are still running on Windows XP at this point, it’s less likely that they will be upgraded any time soon, if at all.

There are so many huge and important improvements to Windows since XP days (User Account Control and Internet Explorer’s Protected Mode come to mind immediately) that there is almost no good reason to still be running Windows XP.  Most, if not all Windows XP needs for software compatibility purposes can be resolved using Windows XP mode or Microsoft’s Enterprise Desktop Virtualization solution.  If you STILL need XP beyond that, it is your moral duty to disconnect that thing from the Internet, if not all networks entirely.

The dangers of continuing to run Windows XP are numerous and massive.  A good analogy might be choosing to live in a house whose doors and windows do not lock…in a bad part of town.  The average passer-by might be none the wiser, but anyone with criminal intent will quickly realize that your house is an extremely easy target.

Don’t be an easy target; keep moving.  Both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 are on sale at Newegg for $100.  It might seem like a pain of an investment to make, but this is your security at stake.

Under no circumstances should you continue to run Windows XP while connected to the Internet.  Period.  Whatever your situation, continuing to use Windows XP for your computing needs is highly likely to worsen your life.  Given the importance of the services accessed through home computers nowadays, the use of an extremely vulnerable operating system to access them is absolutely insane.

Is that strong enough for you?  I really don’t know how to emphasize enough the danger without coming across as a lunatic.  The fact is, you’re not likely to die in a cataclysmic explosion because you’re using Windows XP, but given what can happen to you in terms of identity theft and general life ruination, you may wish that you had.

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