Eighteen percent of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the UK and US are still using Windows XP, putting themselves and customers at risk, warns Bitdefender.
Bitdefender said a reliance on the Microsoft legacy system comes with security compromises, as hackers can take advantage of any vulnerabilities. A forensic study by the firm looked at 5,000 organisations and found that around 1,000 have not yet moved from the operating system.
In May 2014, after a long-running Microsoft campaign to wean users off the operating system, the Redmond company said that it would no longer offer any security support for Windows XP.
"For some time we have been recommending customers move to a modern operating system like Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to help stay safe," Microsoft said then.
Firms have been slow to learn this, however. Catalin Cosoi, chief security strategist at Bitdefender, said: "A few weeks after the end of support announcement, a new Internet Explorer zero-day vulnerability turned into a permanent threat for XP users.
"That was until Microsoft issued a patch that was made available for Windows XP users as well. However, this was an exception that shouldn't make enterprises believe it will happen again, so the swift migration from XP is a must for all users."
Bitdefender's three-month analysis revealed that some firms get hit more than others and uncovered one web marketing company that had to manage around 800 million malware attacks in its networks.
According to figures from NetMarketShare, XP, which Microsoft supported for 12 years, still lingers on 25 percent of the world's computers.
The warnings around XP come as F-Secure’s chief security researcher Mikko Hypponen voiced his frustration XP is still so embedded in company’s, during a press event attended by V3’s sister site The Inquirer.
"I can't wait for Windows XP to die." he said at the event in Helsinki. "I'm glad Microsoft stopped shipping updates. I'm mad at Microsoft for shipping updates after end of support, it should try and kill this beast. But it's not dead yet."
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