January 14 2020 was a milestone date, the day that Windows 7 officially became obsolete. And, like the year 2000 bug, the day came and went and nothing happened. So there’s nothing to worry about, right? Wrong. If you might have PCs running Windows 7 in your organisation, you need to read on.
Cyber security is everybody’s worry these days, whether it’s a personal worry about criminals getting hold of your bank details or the threat of ransomware bringing your entire enterprise to a juddering halt. With the end of Microsoft support for Windows 7, you can now add this to your list of cyber security worries. But it’s a different sort of risk. For the moment, you are as safe as you have always been. Your operating system is probably up to date, assuming that your IT provider has been ensuring that monthly security patches have been applied correctly. But from January 2020 there are no more free* security patches for Windows 7 – every Windows 7 PC will gradually become more out of date and more vulnerable to security threats.
The reality is that, if you continue to use Windows 7 PCs, they will become favoured targets for hackers. That was the experience from the previous version of Windows that reached the end of its life. The National Cyber Security Centre has already advised against using Windows 7 PCs for security-sensitive activities such as banking.
The inevitable conclusion is that a move to Windows 10 has to happen. Although superficially very similar, Windows 10 is a big advance over previous versions of Windows, as Riverbank MD, Marc Juffkins, told the Daily Telegraph.
What you should do
Here is a simple action plan:
- Get the information. Find out if you do have any Windows 7 PCs still being used. If you need help with this, Riverbank can advise.
- With your IT provider, decide which PCs should be replaced and which ones can be upgraded to Windows 10. There is a cost for the upgrade and a cost for the installation, so replacing an old PC with a faster new one often makes financial sense.
- Consider alternative and more imaginative solutions. You could, for example, convert PCs to dumb terminals to access your central systems. Or you could take the plunge with Microsoft 365 Business, which includes a Windows 10 upgrade from Windows 7 Professional.
- Create a budget and timetable for your transition to Windows 10 and prioritise the PCs in the most security-sensitive roles.
- Execute the plan in a reasonable time frame.
If you need any help or guidance to get everyone on to Windows 10, Riverbank IT can help. Take advantage of our free consultancy offer (https://www.riverbank.co.uk/contact-us/free-15-min-chat/) or call us on 01235 426700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Because of the number of businesses struggling to move away from Windows 7, Microsoft is offering a paid-for service that provides security patches for Windows 7. This scheme lasts for three years; it is low-cost in year one, but the cost doubles each year. If you need a few months to organise your upgrades and PC replacements so you can move to Windows 10, this could make sense for you. Riverbank can provide this service and help you plan and execute the transition.