Bondgate IT is warning North East businesses that failure to upgrade the obsolete Windows 7 operating system could leave them vulnerable to cyberattack.
The Darlington-based IT specialist has been busy in recent months updating thousands of computers for business clients across the region ahead of the January 14 deadline.
From that date, Microsoft will no longer support or provide security updates for the software leaving computers exposed to emerging malware, virus and security threats.
Garry Brown, managing director of Bondgate IT, said: “We have seen many businesses operating Windows 7 racing to upgrade before the deadline, but some may still be unaware or not appreciate the significance of the change.
“As the product enters End of Life status, Microsoft will cease all support for Windows 7 and won’t provide any further patches.
“Cybercrime is growing increasingly sophisticated and unprotected operating systems will become a prime target. Despite vulnerabilities being discovered, Microsoft will no longer release a security update necessary to keep IT systems protected.”
While some third parties may continue to offer antivirus software, these too will eventually be withdrawn for Windows 7 – which still accounts for some 30 percent of Microsoft’s market share.
“The system is more than 10 years old and has simply reached the end of its life whilst Windows 10 is the most secure operating system to date. Older systems are more vulnerable to attack so it’s crucial to have the most comprehensive protection available when it comes to safeguarding a business.
“Any security breach can be extremely harmful, wrecking a hard-earned reputation or imposing a serious financial loss. According to the National Crime Agency, cybercrime costs the UK economy billions of pounds a year.
Garry added: “Any business which continues to use this unpatched and outdated system after January 14 could be putting its future on the line. It’s the IT equivalent of going out and leaving the front door wide open.”