With official support for Windows XP set to end on April 8th, what are the biggest security fears and what should users do about it?
The concern that I worry most about when XP support ends is the Nuisance Factor. Attackers already have many vectors and unpatched vulnerabilities in current operating systems, software and the browsers they run. The problem with trying to control an unpatched, unsupported XP machine if you are a bad guy is competing with other bad guys… and every virus, worm, nagware, crimeware, etc. that exist.
Consider this, Conficker worm has been around since 2008 and volume 10 of the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report puts the number of infections around 1.7 Million. Estimates put market share of windows XP between one quarter to one third of all desktops [source: http://www.netmarketshare.com/report.aspx?qprid=11&qpaf=&qpcustom=Windows+XP&qpcustomb=0 ] . Multiple types of malware will infect these machines and those machines will attempt to spread their malware. The information security community is going to have to deal with the threat and the noise.
The web browser being largest attack vector of the desktop is the last line of defense for a system that will no longer have support. Users of XP, should make the switch to secure browsing environments. My personal choice as of late is admittedly a biased one, but I think anyone looking at this would agree a sound choice. The Aviator browser (free) was developed explicitly to end users. Corporate users may want to consider the same, if upgrading is genuinely not an option.
Gabriel Gumbs | WhiteHat Security | Managing Director, Solutions Architecture | @GabrielGumbs
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