Windows 7 remains one of the most popular operating systems among PC users, despite the fact that Microsoft pulled the plug on security updates in January. The FBI has released a private industry notification earlier this week, warning companies who continue to use Windows 7 about the risks of using an outdated OS.
Cyber crime activities have been on the rise in recent years as hackers, and other malevolent entities keep a close eye on any security vulnerabilities that could be exploited to gain access to sensitive data, which is often sold on the black market.
An outdated OS
Even in the case of enterprise-grade use, for which Microsoft continues to provide extended security updates at a premium fee, the risks posed by the use of Windows 7 continues to grow as new vulnerabilities are discovered while security companies have shifted their interest to Windows 10.
The FBI encourages companies to update their workstation to a newer version of Windows as fast as possible. Even in the present, the free update tool provided by Microsoft can be used to update a machine to Windows 10 without the need to enter a serial key, and the account will appear as activated once the task is completed.
In some cases, companies chose to avoid upgrades since the hardware of the current workstations is to weak to support newer versions of Windows. However, the FBI argues that the cost of purchasing new hardware is justified by the security improvements which are available.
When Microsoft dropped official support for Windows XP in 2014, an impressive amount of cyber attacks was observed in the case of the healthcare industry, as attackers sought to obtain valuable data from vulnerable workstations.
The risk is also high for individual Windows 7 users, as there are already many weaponized exploits, including EternalBlue, which was employed in the making of the well-known WannaCry ransomware attack.