independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

End of Windows XP support will be 'starting pistol for hackers'

Windows XP: support ending

XP users will be at risk of attack when Microsoft ends support in April as hackers reverse engineer security updates for newer versions of the OS to look for exploits that may remain unpatched

Those who do not upgrade from Windows XP when Microsoft ends support in April will be at risk of attack as hackers reverse engineer security updates for newer versions of the OS to look for exploits that may remain unpatched in unsupported versions.

PC Pro magazine warns that the April deadline, when Microsoft will cease to provide security updates for XP, will act as a “starting pistol for hackers” who will scour new updates for any vulnerabilities which could also apply to older versions.

Earlier this year Tim Rains, the director of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing group, warned of the same thing: "The very first month that Microsoft releases security updates for supported versions of Windows, attackers will reverse-engineer those updates, find the vulnerabilities and test Windows XP to see if it shares [them].

"If it does, attackers will attempt to develop exploit code that can take advantage of those vulnerabilities on Windows XP. Since a security update will never become available for Windows XP to address these vulnerabilities, Windows XP will essentially have a zero-day vulnerability forever."

Microsoft released XP in 2001 and the last stable release, Service Pack 3, was unveiled in April 2008. Mainstream support for the software ended the year after that, in 2009, but an extended support period stretches until April 8, 2014.

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