What Windows XP’s End of Support Means for Security

by VPNHaus | 05/07/2013

This past summer, there was a lot of discussion around the advent of Windows 8, but one topic that was seemingly lost among all of the reviews of the latest operating system (OS) was the encroaching retirement of Windows XP. When you consider that this time next year (April 14th, to be exact,) security fixes, patches for vulnerabilities and updates to software will disappear to the more than 15 percent of midsize and large enterprises still running Windows XP, companies are remiss to not recognize its huge security implications.

If companies don’t migrate to Windows 7 or higher, they will leave their entire network and systems vulnerable to malicious exploits targeting the expired OS, like cyber and DDOS attacks, data theft and hacking. In other words, it’s absolutely critical that organizations migrate to a modern OS ASAP. To do this, however, companies will need to do a clean install, meaning they’ll need to transition all user data and reinstall or repackage all of their applications to the new Windows 7 or Windows 8 system.

Normally, this can be a time and labor-intensive process, and requires testing all hardware, peripherals and applications to make sure they work with one of Microsoft’s newest OSs. And this means third-party remote access VPN and security software, too – because, while Windows 8 comes will embedded features like DirectAccess and Secure Boot, their pitfalls make it essential to deploy layered security measures in order to effectively lock down a corporate network.

So as companies try to beat the clock, where should they turn? For optimal security without breaking the bank, they’ll need robust solutions that support the latest Windows OSs, which will maximize their investment during the migration process. For instance, NCP’s centrally managed IPsec VPN client suite, which is fully compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7/8, offers end users increased device and OS flexibility when connecting to their corporate networks.

But best-of-breed technology alone isn’t enough to secure an enterprise, especially as today’s threat landscape intensifies in complexity. Microsoft said it itself: “Securing an OS requires multiple layers of defense.” This means companies should deploy a combination of client device firewalls, hybrid IPsec and SSL VPNs as well as anti-virus software, all interconnected in intelligent ways, that can adapt to the dynamism of today’s shifting landscape – and the key will be finding third-party solutions than can play a role in this defense-in-depth strategy for powerful threat responses.