Windows 7 reaches the end of its useful life with Microsoft dropping free support

The end of Windows 7 support is about to stop Microsoft from offering support for the operating system on January 14 for consumers, although commercial customers can pay for ongoing support.

The decision to get support took a long time to arrive. Windows 7 was launched in 2009 and then replaced by Windows 8 in 2012, followed by Windows 10 in 2015. The long operating life of the operating system a decade ago was due in large part to its constant popularity among business users, only Windows 10 passing the Windows 7 market share on January 2, 2019.

Windows 7 users received a broad warning with Microsoft announcing that they would withdraw support for the operating system one year in advance on January 14, 2019. The announcement noted that support paid through the Windows 7 Extended Security Updates It would be available to business users beyond the scheduled date, although since then Microsoft has also extended that paid support to small businesses.

According to Statcounter figures, Windows 7 has a market share of 26.76% of Windows installations at the end of December compared to 65.4% of Windows 10.

Consumers are encouraged to update if they still use Windows 7, but companies that do not want to pay for extended support and can do so.

“If you can upgrade without any adverse operational impact, then update as soon as you can,” Jack Mannino, executive director of nVisium LLC application security provider, told SiliconANGLE.

“If you are using a product or software built on a Windows 7 stack that you cannot immediately disapprove or leave an air gap at a certain capacity, you should isolate these systems as much as technically possible,” Mannino explained. “This includes host level input controls and input and output controls at the network limits. These include kiosks, as well as devices used in medical or manufacturing areas. In many scenarios, these systems are difficult to protect against attacks that require physical access because, by nature, they are implemented in physically accessible areas. “

Those who do not update or, in the case of companies, pay for extended support face serious security risks.

“The obvious risk is that Windows 7 systems will no longer receive patches from Microsoft. This means that if a new vulnerability is discovered in Windows 7, all Windows 7 systems will be at risk of being exploited by malicious attackers, “said Mehul Revankar, director of product management for the IT software firm SaltStack Inc.

“Since there are no patches available, in the future, Windows 7 systems will become mature targets for attackers to exploit. A quick search in the Internet search engine shodan.io reveals that there are approximately one million Windows 7 systems connected to the Internet, ”added Revankar. “When the next big vulnerability in Windows 7 occurs, these would be the attackers of systems that would chase first, possess them very quickly and cause disruptions to the business.”

Chris Morales, head of security analysis at the threat detection firm Vectra AI Inc., says that for consumers “an update of Windows 10 or a change to another compatible operating system should have already occurred. A user should never use an unsupported operating system for public Internet use, such as browsing the web or email. It is a bad practice. “

“For most people, an update should be as simple as a license key,” Morales concluded. “The hardware requirements are quite low compared to modern hardware. Almost any PC in the last 10 years should be compatible with Windows 10. That in itself would consider it incredibly old. Most users are running Windows 7 on more modern hardware simply because they like to use Windows 7 and chose to do so. Windows 10 has been the default operating system on a new PC for some time. “

Image: 34339147 @ N03 / Flickr

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