3,000 Irish firms face IT security switch-off
Thousands of Irish businesses are being warned that they face an influx of IT viruses and higher insurance costs unless they replace a widely used computer system that will be obsolete by July.
Microsoft has issued the stark warning that it is to cut off security support for Windows Server 2003, used by "at least" 3,000 Irish companies for critical business operations.
The move, to be implemented on July 14, means that companies processing credit card payments may find their insurance hiked up or "withdrawn" for using out-of-date technology that is more prone to fraud.
"Merchants using electronic and online payments could see insurance by the four major credit card companies nullified if they do not maintain compliant systems," said Art Coughlan, business cloud manager at Microsoft Ireland. "If you process credit card payments, and you are exposed to fraud or loss after July 14, the credit card companies can withdraw insurance under Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council regulations."
Other implications may include higher penalties or transaction fees for falling foul of corporate compliance and regulatory rules, he said.
"We believe that there are 23,000 servers in approximately 3,000 Irish companies still running Windows Server 2003.
"No updates or security patches will be developed or released after July 14. The use of outdated, unsupported software leaves entire systems vulnerable to business and financial losses and organisations open to legal repercussions."
Microsoft has flagged the issue for two years... but is seeing a slow response from Irish organisations which are catching up on system upgrades.
"Mainstream support for Windows Server 2003 ended five years ago," said Mr Coughlan. "However in 2013 alone, Microsoft released 37 critical updates as part of an extended support program." However, this will end in July.
Companies faced a similar dilemma in 2014, when Microsoft cut off security support for its Windows XP operating system. XP is still used by 5pc of Irish PCs.