Business Technology

Tuesday 24 October 2017

One in ten Irish computer users set to be hit with hike in viruses next month

The company said that the affected customers are all located outside Ireland
The company said that the affected customers are all located outside Ireland

Adrian Weckler, Technology Editor

One in ten Irish computer users are set to be hit with an increase in computer viruses next month, as use of the condemned PC operating system Windows XP on Irish computers grew this year.

The growth in the Irish use of Windows XP, recorded by web-tracking firm Statcounter, comes despite repeated warnings from Microsoft that it is to cut off security support for the system next month.

The news means that one in 11pc of Irish computer users will shortly be exposed to a deluge of viruses and security malware.

On April 8th, Microsoft will cease providing security alerts for Windows XP. But figures from Statcounter, which tracks software versions used by computers globally, show that use of the condemned operating system in Ireland rose from 10.5pc to 10.8pc between January and March of this year. The figures also show that Irish installations of Windows 7 and Windows 8 fell during the same period.

Last month, the Irish government had to agree a €3.3m emergency payment to Microsoft to provide extra security cover for Irish government PC systems that have not yet switched away from Windows XP. The measure will provide several government departments with interim security support while IT managers upgrade computers to newer versions of Microsoft software, such as Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Banks and some large enterprises have also had to pay interim premiums for extra security cover while they upgrade their machines.

Globally, one in three PCs still uses Windows XP, according to Statcounter and other tracking services, such as Netmarketshare. However, the operating system, which is 12 years old, is most prevalent in developing countries.

Microsoft has been warning about its switch away from Windows XP for several years. The IT giant says that Windows XP, because of its age, is 12 times less secure than Windows 8, even with the correct security patches.

In Ireland, the most used PC operating system is Windows 7 (51.4pc), followed by Apple’s OSX (11.4pc) and Windows XP (10.8pc). Windows 8 is trailing on 9.2pc of Irish computers, while Windows Vista is still installed on 7.8pc of PCs here. Microsoft’s newest version, Windows 8.1, is installed on 5.9pc of Irish computers. The figures apply to personal computers and are separate to operating systems measured on tablet computers and smartphones.

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