Monday, May 15, 2017

Legacy Operating Systems Vulnerable To Hacking After NSA's Tools Dumped To The Web

Operating system back doors and keys, tools used to fight terrorism as well as other more dubious tasks, carry meaning economic, political, and social impacts. The public's ignorance of the risks doesn't mean they don't exist.

Thousands of companies - large and small, public agencies, and households around the world use legacy operating systems as well as Windows 8, a modern OS construct so full of vulnerabilities it was quietly pulled and repacked not as Windows 9 but rather 10. They did this to distance themselves from Windows 8.

The dumping of the NSA's hacking tools to the web in April will without a doubt open the door to waves of cyber attacks that could impact not only technologies companies but also the economy unless Microsoft and public officials act fast. Microsoft may be forced to provide security patches for legacy operating systems due to the potential for meaning economic and social impacts this summer.

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As a vicious new strain of ransomware swept the UK’s National Health Service yesterday, shutting off services at hospitals and clinics throughout the region, experts cautioned that the best protection was to download a patch Microsoft had issued in March. The only problem? A reported 90 percent of NHS trusts run at least one Windows XP device, an operating system Microsoft first introduced in 2001, and hasn’t supported since 2014.

NHS has disputed the 90 percent figure—though not that a significant portion of its systems run Windows XP—and was only one example of the tens of thousands of impacted computers across nearly 100 countries yesterday. But its meltdown illustrates the deeper problems inherent in Windows XP’s prevalence three years after its official demise.



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