April 8th, 2014. If you’re running Windows XP, remember that date. Microsoft will stop providing any sort of updates for Windows XP, including critical security updates. This means that if there are any exploits or vulnerabilities discovered after that, well, tough luck.
Windows XP was launched on August 24, 2001. That’s almost thirteen years ago! To give you an idea how long ago was that, the ill-fated Windows ME was release only eleven months before that, in September of 2000. That’s a *long* time, and I bet you haven’t seen anyone running Windows ME in a while…
Many articles across the internet say that April 8th will be “Hacker Heaven” . Or to “Expect a flood of new vulnerabilities [on Windows XP] and no help for them.” . Sounds really alarmist, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, it’s true. There are sources online that indicate  that cybercriminals are ‘saving up’ vulnerabilities to exploit in Windows XP after Microsoft ends support, so that patches and fixes are not released for them.
So, what does this mean for an average use of Windows XP? Essentially, it means that your computer will be completely unprotected against hacking attempts, even if you have a decent anti-virus or firewall. You’re probably seen on the news reports of “vulnerabilities” that compromise Internet Explorer, and that you should go online and download the latest fix from Microsoft, right? Well, those fixes aren’t happening anymore. When new vulnerabilities are discovered, you will be out of luck, and completely unprotected.
That’s why Microsoft says “PCs running Windows XP after April 8, 2014, should not be considered to be protected.”  That means that your email and Facebook accounts, banking passwords, tax information and any other sensitive data stored on your computer will be at risk.
So, if you think you’re still running Windows XP, what are your options?
First, go to http://www.amirunningxp.com/. It’s a Microsoft website that detects which version of Windows you are running. If you are running Windows XP, it’s time for an upgrade.
If you have a higher-end computer from around 2006 or 2007, you may be able to just have Windows 7 or Windows 8 installed on it, with only minor upgrades required.
If your computer is from 2001-2006, it will likely be more cost-effective to purchase a new computer and have all your data transferred over.
At Cat Digital Solutions, we have a discounted package available for clients that wish to upgrade from Windows XP. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 604.256.1999 to take advantage of it!
 “XP’s retirement will be hacker heaven”, ComputerWorld, http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9241585/XP_s_retirement_will_be_hacker_heaven
 “Your perilous future on Windows XP”, ZD Net, http://www.zdnet.com/your-perilous-future-on-windows-xp-7000019721/
 “Cybercriminals “saving up” wave of Windows XP attacks for when Microsoft stops support”, WeLiveSecurity, http://www.welivesecurity.com/2013/08/13/cybercriminals-saving-up-wave-of-windows-xp-attacks-for-when-microsoft-stops-support/
 “PCs running Windows XP after April 8, 2014, should not be considered to be protected.”, Microsoft, http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/enterprise/endofsupport.aspx