GREATER MANCHESTER POLICE are still using defunct operating system Windows XP on one-in-five machines in active use on the force.
The second biggest police force in the UK joins the Metropolitan Police on the list of shame, according to new findings from a Freedom of Information Act request made by the BBC.
"The remaining XP machines are still in place due to complex technical requirements from a small number of externally provided highly specialised applications," a spokeswoman told Auntie Beeb.
"Work is well advanced to mitigate each of these special requirements within this calendar year, typically through the replacement or removal of the software applications in question."
Most forces refused to cooperate with the FOI request, citing security reasons. This includes the Met Police who back in June admitted they had 18,000 machines that still run XP (including offline ones) and that only eight machines were running Windows 10.
The Met has recently signed a deal with storage company Box which will, amongst other things, reduce the amount of data held locally.
Following just four months after the WannaCry outbreak brought down parts of the NHS, the concern on the safety of IT in the public sector is growing.
It is understood from a previous report that many Met Police departments are still using XP because it is not clear whose budget the replacement machine should come from.
David Emm of Kaspersky Labs adds: "It's alarming that some organisations continue to use Windows XP. The fact that Microsoft issued emergency updates for XP and other unsupported systems in response to the WannaCry outbreak shouldn't lure organisations into a false sense of security: there's no guarantee that this would happen for future attacks.
"It is important to remember that cybercriminals target systems and applications that are widely-used. Even if companies are running the latest software, it is still crucial that they have preventive measures in place to protect themselves from ransomware attacks."
Meanwhile, McAfee's Raj Samani, whose work on No More Ransom which allows companies to release their infected machines without a fee, said: "Private businesses need to support the public sector in making this possible. Projects such as No More Ransom demonstrate the power of law enforcement and IT security companies joining forces.
"Since its conception a year ago, we've worked with police forces to provide free-to-use decryption keys and prevent ransomware attacks."
We should at least be glad to know that one of the other respondents, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary said it had fewer than 10 machines running XP and that none of them was on the live network.
Recent research by VPN Comparison site Top10VPN said that 49 percent of Britons would expect the government to pay the ransom if the police were brought down by malware.
With Netmarketshare putting the total global usage of Windows XP at 6.07 percent, the continuing use in the UK public sector is an increasing concern. µ
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