Business Technology

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Security flaws see Irish users pull the plug on Windows XP

Security concerns have caused the number of those using Windows XP to plummet
Security concerns have caused the number of those using Windows XP to plummet
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

THE number of Irish people using Windows XP has fallen sharply since Microsoft ceased providing security support, according to new industry figures.

The global web-tracking firm Statcounter has revealed that Irish PCs using Windows XP has fallen from 10.3pc to 8.7pc in the last month, a fall of over 10pc.

The migration away from the obsolete operating system will be welcomed by IT security analysts and Microsoft, which has warned that companies and home PC users continuing to use Windows XP will find themselves defenceless against emerging security threats.

Last week, the first major security flaw to permanently affect Windows XP users surfaced. Microsoft said that the flaw, affecting a quarter of PC internet users, allows hackers to install malicious programs, delete data or create new bogus accounts.


The company says that it will not provide a Windows XP security patch for this latest security flaw, leaving Windows XP users stuck permanently. Thousands of Irish business and government computers still use Windows XP, with several government departments currently racing to try and switch to a more modern computer operating system.

Earlier this year, the government agreed a €3.3m emergency security deal with Microsoft to extend coverage for a further 12 months while it upgrades its PCs.

Legal experts now say that companies that continue to run Windows XP could find themselves legally liable for computer-related mishaps.

Although the security specifically targets Internet Explorer 9, 10 and 11, Microsoft has said that it affects Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8, widely used by Windows XP machines.

With Microsoft admitting it is still working on a fix, most IT experts are advising PC users to change their computer's web browser from Internet Explorer to Google Chrome or Firefox.

"An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user," it warned. "In a web-based attack scenario, an attacker could host a website that contains a webpage that is used to exploit this vulnerability. This issue allows remote code execution if users visit a malicious website with an affected browser. This would typically occur by an attacker convincing someone to click a link in an email or instant message."

Microsoft is pulling the plug on security updates for Windows XP as it says the system is too old and too insecure to continue supporting. It says that the 13-year-old operating system is 21 times less secure than its newest system, Windows 8.

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