Since April 8, 2014, Windows XP has been in a deathly state. Microsoft issued the famous OS its last update ever, effectively opening the floodgates for hackers, malware, and other bad things.
But how, exactly, is Windows XP going to be exploited? What’s going to happen to the operating system in the near future?
Since Windows XP is still used by about 20% of PC users around the world, it’s important to share these threats and show you what you’re dealing with:
April 8, 2014 wasn’t an apocalypse
In the leadup to April 2014, many people said that April 8, 2014 would be a doomsday style event for Windows XP. Hackers would descend from the heavens and wage war upon the innocent citizens of Windows XP.
That obviously didn’t happen.
If hackers had zero-day exploits prepared for the final Patch Tuesday of Windows XP, then they would have been able to launch attacks starting on April 8. However, despite warnings from security experts that hackers had plenty of zero day exploits lying in wait, this never really happened.
That doesn’t mean the security threats were overblown. It just means that hackers will need a little more time to find exploits in the latest version of Windows XP.
Vulnerabilities will last forever
Every time Microsoft released an update, hackers tried to find ways to exploit that update. By the time an exploit was discovered, Microsoft had fixed the update, released a patch, and the cycle started again.
On April 8, 2014, Microsoft released the final patch for Windows XP. Hackers have been actively trying to find vulnerabilities in that patch and it’s only a matter of time before serious vulnerabilities are discovered.
Here’s the thing: once exploits are discovered, they’re not going to be fixed. They’re going to continue to be exploited over and over again because no patch is coming in the future. That’s why April 8 was such an important day.
Some antivirus software will protect you
Some antivirus makers are really mad at Microsoft because they’re now effectively providing the last line of protection between XP users and the wild side of the internet.
If you are actively subscribed to Windows XP software, then that software could protect you for the near future.
However, look at antivirus software like this: it’s like building a wall of sand against a rising tide. That rising tide isn’t going to stop anytime soon, and your sand wall is looking smaller and smaller.
As exploits continue to build up, your wall of sand will eventually collapse. Water will surround it, flood in, and make your wall useless. Even if you were to build a concrete wall and use really good antivirus software, the rising tide will eventually cover it and flood in.
That scenario is likely a year or two away. But be aware that antivirus software installed on Windows XP won’t protect you forever.
You really should update today
I haven’t seen any PC security advisors say that April 8, 2014 is “overblown” or “a scam to trick you into buying Windows 8”.
Instead, it’s an extremely legitimate reason to upgrade your computer. And you should make that upgrade as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more likely you are to be exploited.
If you can’t upgrade right away, then you should at least avoid entering sensitive information into your Windows XP computer. Bank on your mobile device or another computer.
Whether you upgrade to Windows 7, Windows 8, or Mac OS, I strongly recommend you bite the bullet and upgrade to a new system as soon as possible.