What does it mean for you that Microsoft ended support on Windows 7 and Office 2010 on January 14, 2020? No, your computer did not stop working or vanish into the ether or even feel any different on the 15th. So, why is everyone making this such a big deal? What should you do about it?
Your computer and data became vulnerable to compromise, breach, and theft putting your business’ reputation and profitability at risk.
Microsoft is no longer providing patches, hotfixes, or security updates to unsupported software. If a major flaw or security vulnerability is unearthed, they have no responsibility to do anything about it. This is a perfect opportunity for Cybercriminals to attack.
There are three scenarios the Cybercriminals are going to use to their benefit:
- When researchers expose a flaw in Windows 7 or Office 2010, it is open season because Microsoft will not create a patch to fix those flaws.
- Sophisticated criminal organizations have done their own research to find previously unidentified vulnerabilities They are waiting in the background for this less secure time to attack.
- As vulnerabilities are found by Microsoft and patched for supported systems like Windows 10 and Office 2016 or 2019, cybercriminals will exploit those same vulnerabilities in Windows 7 or Office 2010 because Microsoft won’t patch those older systems.
The largest outbreaks over the last couple years, dubbed WannaCry and EternalBlue, had a huge impact because of Windows XP computers still in use. Windows 7 will now pose the same risk as XP has for the last 5 years.
Business productivity will be impacted the longer you wait to upgrade.
Microsoft will not provide any technical support to you, your IT team, or the vendors that create the software you use to run your business. If something goes wrong, you will have little help from anyone to fix it. If you want to get the latest version of the software you love and use every day, it likely won’t be compatible with Windows 7 or integrate with Office 2010. As Microsoft stops supporting those systems, so does the entire ecosystem that relies on them.
Businesses are at risk of large fines and decertification.
Meeting the regulatory requirements (PCI, HIPAA, GDPR, etc.) defined by industry and government, impacts every business in some way. Maintaining a security program built on sound foundational principles is a key part of these standards. One of these principles is patching, as discussed in the SECURITY section above. If you are unable to patch your systems, you may not meet compliance and regulatory requirements.
- Don’t perform any financial transaction or pay your bills from a Windows 7 computer
- Don’t shop or make purchases from a Windows 7 computer
- Don’t prepare or send sensitive documents or data using Office 2010
- Do speak with an IT professional about upgrading your existing Windows 7 system or suggesting a new Windows 10 computer
- Do explore upgrading your Office suite to Office 2019 or Office 365 subscription services
Windows 7 and Office 2010 retirement is not the end of the world or even a catastrophic event. It is an opportunity for you to use new tools to be the best!