Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP in 2014, but the company has decided to issue an urgent patch for its users to prevent spying attacks.

The company has asked that customers still using XP to update the software to avoid hacks like the WannaCry ransomware attacks. Since rendering Windows XP as obsolete, only seven percent of PC users still use XP – so the overall risk to the Windows userbase is fairly low in sheer numbers. Microsoft has stated that they are only issuing this update as a one-time event and it isn’t a departure from their viewpoint that the OS is obsolete and will no longer otherwise be serviced.

The release of WannaCry and the NSA’s “Eternal Blue” tool being leaked online were the key reasons the company decided to release this update. This attack hit companies like Nissan and the NHS, leading to things like medical procedures being cancelled. The NSA leak showed off a lot of new exploits in the code and this patch fixes 94 of those vulnerabilities. 27 of the vulnerabilities actually allowed hackers to take control of a user’s computer remotely. Microsoft states that despite this patch working for XP users, they should still upgrade to a Windows 10 machine because XP will naturally lack the security features of 10.

Ransomware has been around for a bit longer than a decade, and the best way to protect yourself from it is to run strong anti-virus software that can protect you and keep it updated. If you don’t update the software, then cybercriminals may eventually find a way to bypass security software and still infect machines. Anyone with Windows XP should download this update as soon as possible and make sure their system is safe.

It would also be a wise move to at least look into upgrading to a Windows 10 machine – you can get one for $400 or so, and even less if you’re willing to use a stripped-down Windows 10 2-in-1 device for minor things like banking and Facebook posting.

source: The Telegraph