The Risks of Outdated Software

Published On: June 30, 2021

The Risks of Outdated Software

Most people understand that it is not necessarily the smartest idea to use obsolete software, but did you know that they are still millions of people worldwide that use Windows XP? A long-defunct operating system that launched in 2001 and has been unsupported since 2014. With so many users still operating on Windows XP, Microsoft had to release patches in 2017 because of three NSA exploits that put Windows XP users under major threat. While this is an extreme example, many of us ignore that ‘update required’ for far too long on our laptops, phones, and desktop computers. Risks this cause can be extremely harmful in business environments. 

Outdated Means Unsupported  

Outdated operating systems and software are often unsupported, which means unsecured data. Outdated software creates a weak link in your system and a goldmine to hackers. In the corporate IT environment, the problem is substantially worse than if it is just your personal computer that is not up to date; it can pose a risk to the entire network. According to guidelines developed by the National Cyber Security Centre, obsolete software creates two major issues from a security perspective: 

  1. The software will no longer receive security updates from its developers, increasing the likelihood that exploitable vulnerabilities will become known by attackers 
  2. The latest security mitigations are not present in older software, increasing the impact of vulnerabilities, making exploitation more likely to succeed, and making detection of any exploit more difficult 

Third Party Vendors 

While it is important to look internally at your business, it is also crucial to do an audit on all third-party vendors as over 50% of data breaches occur through them. For example, a subcontractor you use may be smaller and have a simple security setup. Hackers know this and will use them as an entry point to gain access to your business. Doing research and a risk assessment per vendor can help you understand how they operate and if they use software or operate in a way that may pose a cyber threat to your business. Having a cybersecurity protocol can help mitigate risks from third-party vendors. If both you and your subcontractors use outdated software, the risk of a potential attack increases.  

Functionality Issues 

If security risks do not bother you, outdated software also lacks new features that developers are actively working on. It could interrupt your business and stop working with your hardware or other systems used by internal networks or external clients you may have. Many updates are also performance fixes that will fix issues such as slow speeds, bugs, or glitches. Perhaps your business has been using so many workarounds that your software is not fulfilling its purpose, and the most recent update fixes the problem. Since many outdated software programs are no longer supported by the vendor, any newly found bugs in the program will not get addressed, leaving your business out to dry if anything goes wrong. 

Interested in learning more about protecting your data or creating a cybersecurity defence team? TechnoEdge Learning provides valuable IT training and versatile CompTIA prep courses for CompTIA A+ certification, Comp TIA Security+ certification, CompTIA Network+ certification, and CompTIA CySA+ certification. Provide the proper training, through cybersecurity courses, to make your employees your first defence against cyber threats. 

Disclaimer

The information contained in this post is considered true and accurate as of the publication date. However, the accuracy of this information may be impacted by changes in circumstances that occur after the time of publication. Ashton College assumes no liability for any error or omissions in the information contained in this post or any other post in our blog

 

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