Even though Windows 10 was released nearly 5 years ago in July 2015, many businesses are STILL using Windows 7. With Microsoft no longer supporting Windows 7, now that it’s over a decade old, what are businesses to do?
Why should I upgrade to Windows 10?
When Windows 7 originally launched on October 22nd 2009, Microsoft guaranteed businesses it would support the software for 10 years. That anniversary came and went. Then, back in January 2020, Microsoft confirmed it will no longer provide patches or updates for security vulnerabilities or system issues. Some may say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, however when it comes to cybersecurity, that mantra doesn’t ring true.
Not only are you losing out on the added functionality in Windows 10, which could help your staff be more productive and collaborate better both internally and externally, but you leave your computers vulnerable to attack from cybercriminals. If a hacker gains access to your IT system, they may steal data, lock the hardware for ransom or use the device to perform DDoS attacks at a future date; all without you knowing.
If you do decide to carry on as usual, that decision brings with it some important caveats:
- Your existing Anti-virus software may help, but only from known exploits already found in W7. You may also find that in the coming months your AV software will become ‘End-of-Life’ as vendors also drop support for Windows 7.
- If you need troubleshooting support, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a vendor that will still help you with a now End-of-Life system.
- When hackers find new lapses in Windows 7’s security (and they will) you, your business and its data be very vulnerable and it’s not just the loss of data or systems that could affect you.
- If you do suffer a breach and are found to have not taken the appropriate steps to safeguard your data, GDPR guidelines are enforceable with fines that could significantly affect the business.
“Long story short; if you’re using Windows 7 on any computer in your businesses, you should make every effort to stop using it and transfer any data on to a more current system like Windows 10”
How can I tell the difference?
The easiest way to tell the difference is by looking at the bottom left corner of your screen and the start button.
Windows 10 was the first Microsoft Operating System to merge Cortana, its AI-based digital assistant, with the search bar that scours all the files and folders on your computer. The search bar was also removed from the Start Menu and moved to the Task Bar, to the right of the Start Button.
If you can see that ‘Search the web and Windows’ bar at the bottom of your computer, you’re on Windows 10. If you can’t, chances are you’re on Windows 7.
What’s the solution?
Get Windows 10! That’s it. You could always change operating systems to Mac OS or Linux, but unless you have specific needs for one of those platforms, the cost of new devices and training may be prohibitively expensive. Windows 10 is a tried and tested Operating System that is used the world over, so it makes sense for most businesses to stick with what they know.
Depending on the age of your hardware, a simple upgrade in software could be all you need, or if your computers are a little older and wiser, you may need to upgrade your physical computers with newer models.
If you’re based in the Midlands, Mint is here for you. We love to look after our neighbours, from Birmingham to Dudley and Wolverhampton to Walsall. We’ve already helped dozens of businesses upgrade to Windows 10 from older systems, but wait, there’s more! We can also simplify your tech and help your staff get more done. So, get in touch today or call 01384 887 733 to get the ball rolling!
In the meantime, here are some stop-gaps you can take advantage of to minimise the risk to the business until you get in touch:
Use virtualisation software
If you have a system that ONLY runs on Windows 7, you could use software like VMware to run Windows 7 within Windows 10, Linux or Mac OS, depending on your preference. As the unsafe software is then run ‘sandboxed’ within the more current OS, your data is more protected than without, but it’s still not the perfect solution.
Disconnect critical systems from the internet
If all else fails and you have a system that can work offline, disconnect the ethernet cable and turn off Wi-Fi, then no matter whether the computer has already been compromised or not, it can’t be controlled any more, as there’s no way for a hacker to connect to the computer.
If these stopgaps sound like gobbledegook to you, or you want to discuss how you can upgrade the software or hardware in your office, give us a call. Even if you’re not based in the Midlands, we’ll help however we can, or at least point you in the right direction.