Earlier this month, Microsoft Corp. officially announced that they would stop providing support for Windows XP systems. This left XP users to ponder the fate of their future use of the operating system because Microsoft will no longer fix security problems that are discovered.
It didn't take long for hackers to find vulnerability in XP to exploit. Computer security company FireEye stated that they had recorded a number of attacks on U.S. firms using Internet Explorer in XP. The vulnerability, if successful, could allow hackers to run code that could send spam to other systems or retrieve data that is meant to be private.
In a normal situation, an exploit of Internet Explorer such as this would not draw much attention because Microsoft would fix the problem relatively quickly. In this case, Microsoft will send a security update to users but will leave out any users who are still on the XP operating system. This means that XP users will have to discover how to fix the problem themselves and update their systems.
According the NetMarketShare data, 13.9 percent of all internet-exploring desktop users are using Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9, while 11.04 percent of use all internet-exploring desktop users are using Internet Explorer 10. This makes up a large percentage of all Internet users, considering that other browsers such as Google Chrome, Safari and Mozilla Firefox each have less than 6 percent of all Internet browsing.
It's tough to recommend how to avoid being vulnerable to this exploitation besides not clicking on suspicious links or instant messages. XP users need to be wary of links that look fraudulent or claim that you have won some magical award. In my experience, no award will be found by clicking these "Congratulations, you've won" types of links.
You're best off sticking to the websites that you know and that you are familiar with. Check your Internet settings to see whether the website is trusted and has a valid certificate from a trusted domain provider.
The discontinuation of support of the XP operating system by Microsoft raises many questions of how long a company should stand behind its products. Microsoft hasn't fully abandoned XP because it still puts out security advisories regarding the system. However, the company will not act to update or fix any problems with XP. The XP user is now responsible for all of the maintenance of his operating system.
It's tough to decide when a company should no longer have to fully support its products. I'd argue that a company should provide support until the amount of users that are still using the device or system is too small to justify efforts to continually update the system.
In this case, there are many XP users across the world who are up in arms about their loss of support. Microsoft is known to stand behind its products. However in this case, it seems that Microsoft is giving users the cold shoulder rather than the warm welcome of a support team.
-Mote is a sophomore French major from Indianapolis.