Too Many Businesses are Still Using Windows 7

As of this writing, nearly a quarter of all businesses are still using Windows 7 for one reason or another. Having chosen not to upgrade to Windows 10 (or didn’t want to upgrade their Windows 7-dependent software) when it was offered free, with fears that it would be more mobile device oriented, it seems these businesses don’t want to fork over the money to upgrade away from Windows 7. The problem with this strategy is that, as we mentioned at the outset, Windows 7 is no longer supported by Microsoft and is a major security problem. With no more security patches and updates, the OS will become filled with vulnerabilities, exposing business data. Is your business one of the whopping 47 percent of businesses that were still using Windows 7 when Microsoft retired it in January? Can your business afford to lose control over its data?  What Makes Using Windows 7 Bad? Windows 7 was released over a decade ago in July of 2009. In that time, Microsoft has upgraded its OS multiple times. So, while its functionality and usability are decent, it is a ticking time bomb because Microsoft no longer patches or updates the software. It’s not hard to fathom hackers taking advantage of this as they try to steal data and access from the millions of people who still use Windows 7. FBI Says Using Windows 7 is Negligent Law enforcement is even mentioning that it’s a liability to use Windows 7. The Federal Bureau of Investigation released the following statement to their corporate partners in the private sector: “As time passes, Windows 7 becomes more vulnerable to exploitation due to lack of security updates and new vulnerabilities discovered.” Although they especially mention enterprises in the release, it’s not just major corporations that have something to lose by using old and unsupported software. You wouldn’t buy a window that is already cracked, would you? Windows 7 is that cracked window.  For companies that utilize legacy software that doesn’t run on Windows 10, it’s probably because there is a better version of that software, too. Besides, if you actually needed to run an old piece of software in order to do your job, there are cloud-based alternatives to run legacy software. There is simply no good reason to run Windows 7 on a machine that is connected to the Internet.  What Should My Company Do? Plan your upgrade today. The IT professionals at SRS Networks can find you the hardware, software, and other technology resources to meet your business’ needs. Our technicians are versed in all manners of business technology and specialize in promoting a secure, efficient computing environment that can take your business where you want it to go. For more information about Windows 7, Windows 10, or any other technology question you may have, call us today at (831) 758-3636.

Security Has to Be At the Top of Every Healthcare Provider’s List

What is BlueKeep? The Bluekeep vulnerability is a strain of malware that was discovered in May 2019, and was patched soon thereafter. Healthcare providers wanted to ensure that BlueKeep wasn’t anything like the EternalBlue situation just a short time ago. EternalBlue was the exploit hackers used that allowed the WannaCry ransomware attack to have such a lasting impact on the industry.  Unfortunately, many health maintenance organizations didn’t apply the necessary patches; and with the three operating systems (Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2008 R2) that the BlueKeep vulnerability affects already lacking support, the situation is definitely problematic. This is more true today as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread rapidly, putting unprecedented pressure on these hospitals and other healthcare organizations. Even today, over 20 percent of all BlueKeep-vulnerable devices remain unpatched and nearly 45 percent of all connected medical devices remain vulnerable to attack. That includes some very important machines such as x-rays, anesthesia machines, and care-driven technologies vulnerable for an attack. Is your practice up-to-date?  If you would like our professional IT experts to do a thorough assessment of all of your practice’s technology to see if your systems are patched and up-to-date, call us today at (831) 758-3636.

At Long Last, Windows 7 Users Have to Switch to Windows 10

Let’s consider Windows 7 for a moment. There’s a reason that it is still so popular among users, despite being a decade old… In many ways, the operating system still holds up. Let’s face it – the transfer from Windows 7 to Windows 8 back in 2012 was a bit of a bust as well, so is it really that surprising that it has happened again? What Made Users Pass Up a Free Upgrade?    One of the major sticking points that prevented Windows 10 from being a runaway success was the discomfort many felt with some of the default settings, which included features and services that many found controversial and intrusive. Basically, users felt the amount of data collected by Microsoft through Windows 10 was excessive. Many found issue in the fact that their conversations can be listened in on, thanks to the introduction of Cortana to the Windows experience. Unless the user specifically deactivated Cortana in their settings, Cortana would be listening at all times. While this is a necessity for a voice-activated anything to work, it does open up questions about what additional information Cortana could collect. This wasn’t all that was collected, either. The world’s biggest software company also collected the following information: Bing search queries Private communications Microsoft support requests Error reports Third-party data Other Differences Between Windows 7 and Windows 10 One frustration that users who did make the switch discovered was that Windows 10 didn’t have any software installed to play a DVD by default, requiring the user to find and install a program for themselves. While this may not have made much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, it was still an inconvenience. Another difference between the operating system’s versions was that updates were suddenly pushed onto the patching system, making them automatic. These are just two small examples of the changes made between Windows 7 and Windows 10, but it does help us to understand why Windows 10 wasn’t a running success as was anticipated: people are resistant to change. Even if an upgrade is free, a user isn’t going to be motivated to switch away from an operating system that they like and are comfortable with. Why Business Users Now Have to Migrate After being around for a full decade, Windows 7 is finally being retired. Microsoft is ending support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. This means that there will be no more security updates, and therefore the vulnerability of any system still running Windows 7 after that point will increase exponentially. Windows 10, on the other hand, will still receive security updates, which is one reason why users are making the switch. Of course, this isn’t the only feature that Windows 10 has to offer. They also provide: Virtual desktops  Advanced screenshots Built-in security Dynamic Lock Scheduled restarts and updates When a change is made to software, it is almost always a good thing. This isn’t to say that it isn’t an intimidating leap to make, and SRS Networks understands this. That’s why we’re here to help you acclimate yourself to Windows 10, and migrate your systems over before January 14. Call us at (831) 758-3636 to get started.

Unpatched Windows is Like Leaving Your Car Door Open in a Sketchy Parking Garage at Night with Wads of Cash in the Driver’s Seat

Why Are Windows Updates So Important? Microsoft Windows is complex software. It needs to be. In order to do everything, we need it to do every day, and work with everything we need it to work with, it contains a lot of features and capabilities baked in. The more complex your software is, the more chances there are that someone out there could find a vulnerability. This happens all the time, and when vulnerabilities are discovered, good software developers will quickly build an update that fixes them before they are exploited. That’s what Windows updates are. Sure, there are new features being added in many of the updates as well, but the security patches are what is truly critical. **Please note that sometimes it isn’t a good idea to just let Windows updates run automatically. Sometimes an update can break something else (like a third-party application or internal workflow). It’s best to test updates before deploying them across your network. Problems Get Exposed as they are Fixed Let me give you a more old-school example. Way back in the day, you used to be able to ‘hack’ a vending machine with fake coins called slugs. To combat this, new vending machines were created that had multiple sensors to measure and analyze the coin in real time to determine if it were real. When these new machines were released, they were also might newer looking than the old school, hackable vending machines. Word got out about how easily the older machines could accept a slug and encouraged people to seek them out to get free beverages. What can we take away from this? If you owned an old vending machine, you were at risk of being hacked. Older vending machines were targeted by people who knew that they were hackable, as opposed to the new vending machines that weren’t as easily exploitable. Risk increased as time went on if you owned an older vending machine. How often do you see vending machines that even take coins these days? I’m dating myself. When Microsoft releases security updates, this exposes the vulnerability to the world. This includes hackers. This means everyone is on bought time once an update comes out, because hackers know that not everyone will update. Older Operating Systems Have the Highest Risk If you are running a version of Windows (or any software) that has reached the end of its developmental and support life, you are playing with fire. For example, if you are still running Windows Vista (please, I hope you aren’t) then Microsoft’s mainstream support ended in April 2012. They offered extended support up until April 2017. Mainstream support is when Microsoft is still providing features, security updates, patching bugs, and more. Extended support is when Microsoft stops adding new features and only provides bug fixes and patches, and only provided that you are on the exact version of the software or operating system that Microsoft says they are supporting. Back to our example of running Windows Vista (my fingers crossed that this example is purely hypothetical and nobody is still using Vista), it’s pretty clear that Windows Vista was not the shining example of the perfect operating system and that by the end of life there were no flaws whatsoever for hackers to target. If you are […]