Are you among the many computer users dreading April 8 – the day Microsoft Corp. says it will finally stop issuing updates to its Windows XP operating system?
There may still be hope. Many antivirus vendors will continue to provide anti-malware signatures for XP long after Microsoft pulls the plug on its much-loved 13-year old OS, according to Andreas Marx, CEO of AV-Test, an independent IT security and antivirus research services firm based in Germany.
While Microsoft has said it will stop support services and security updates for XP come April 8 this year, “…a large number of providers of security software will continue to support Windows XP after this date,” he said.
“Some companies have even promised to keep providing updates for two years and others have yet to plan any deadline whatsoever for the end of support,” said Marx who includes a list of companies that are willing to support XP on his Web site.
Among the AV firms support XP for up to two years or more are: AVG, Avast, Avira BitDefender, EISET, Fortinet, F-Secure, Kaspersky Labs, McAfee, Sophos, Trend Micro and Webroot.
(For a complete list go to the AV Test Web site)
While Microsoft will no longer support XP after April 8, 2014, Microsoft will continue to provide updates to its anti-malware signatures and engine for XP users through July 12, 2015.
While he recommends that XP users upgrade to newer systems such as Windows 7 or 8, or Apple’s OSX or Linux, Marx said migrating to another OS is not always possible for everyone.
He said users opting to stay on with XP should take some extra measures to protect themselves.
“The fact that most sources of infections are lying in wait to attack during a system’s day-to-day Internet usage means that users of old XP should spend as little time online as possible,” according to Marx. “We also recommend the use of an alternative browser such as Google Chrome or Firefox, which will continue to be kept up to date … if the announcements made by their developers are anything to go by.”
He said the Internet Explorer browser for XP will meet the same fate as the XP system and will no longer receive updates.
He also recommends that XP users switch from Outlook Express to another mail program because Outlook Express is part of the XP system. Marx recommends using Thunderbird.
The bot threat
Some of the most serious threats networks face today are "bots," remotely controlled robotic programs that strike in many different ways and deliver destructive payloads, self propagating to infect more and more systems and eventually forming a "botnet."