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Millennium Bug: this time the 2020 threat is real

The 2020 Setback

The 2020 setback

2020 could be a risky year for over a third of UK businesses. Throughout the coming year, a number of Microsoft’s most common and widely used products will be going end of life and no longer receiving any support or security updates, which could leave your business open to cyber-attacks and data theft.

If this is the first time you’ve heard about the 2020 setback, you are not alone! Most business executives are unaware of the huge issue facing them as soon as January 2020 hits.

Which products will be affected in January 2020?

In January 2020, the following Microsoft products will be retired from service:

  • Windows 7
  • Microsoft Office 2010
  • Small Business Server 2011
  • Windows Server 2008 R2

If you are not sure which, if any, of these Microsoft products are in use within your business, don’t worry! We are able to check this for you with our FREE business technology review. You can book your review here

Should businesses be worried?

Most people are unaware of the unrelenting cyberwar taking place between hackers and IT security specialists. With both sides dedicating their time to looking for potential security vulnerabilities in the code of enterprise software. In the event that an IT security specialist finds a vulnerability, Microsoft will release a security patch that is distributed automatically or manually to all users of the particular software via an update. You would have seen this before, most likely in the form of a Windows Update.

But what happens when the hackers find a vulnerability? Well, they most definitely do not report it to Microsoft. Instead, they will launch a series of attacks that target the newly found vulnerability before Microsoft can patch it.

So, when support is withdrawn, the hackers will be left to their own devices and free to look for exploits. Once these exploits have been identified they will have free reign to do whatever they see fit without needing to worry about a new security patch stopping them in their tracks.

GDPR compliance

With the ever-growing threat of cyber-attacks while using outdated Microsoft products, you could find yourself on the wrong side of a GDPR sanction. Since the introduction of GDPR in May 2018, businesses now have a responsibility to safeguard confidential and sensitive data. This includes taking all technical and organisational steps to keep your client’s data safe and secure.

If a compromised business is found to have been using outdated and unsupported software to store or access client’s data, they could be deemed non-compliant and face either a 20 million euro fine or 4% of global turnover (whichever is highest).

Does this all sound a little too familiar?

Please cast your mind back to May 2017, Windows XP had been End of Life for a little over three years, but many businesses and organisations had neglected to upgrade to a newer and more secure operating system. Hackers began finding vulnerabilities in the Windows XP framework and launched a series of attacks to exploit them.

This might not be enough to trigger a flashback. So, now think about the NHS… A notorious ransomware software known as ‘WannaCry’ had infected many of their machines after the NHS had ignored advice to upgrade from outdated software (including Windows XP). This infection quickly spread to over 200,000 computers in 150 countries.

As the saying goes ‘history always finds a way to repeat itself’. When Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2010 and the versions of Windows Server reaches retirement on January 14th, the same thing could happen on a much larger scale as a significant amount of businesses still rely on Windows 7 along with Windows Server 2008 and have neglected to upgrade their business software and systems. Microsoft claims that there are 1.5 billion devices running a Windows operating system and that 900 million of these are running Windows 10 (Source: Microsoft by the Numbers). Which leaves 600 million devices running other Windows operating systems (Primarily Windows 7, 8, and 8.1, but also including XP and Vista)

What can you do?

Upgrading to a new operating system can be a very technical and time-consuming process, which causes it to be put off until it is absolutely necessary. This is especially true with larger businesses that have countless devices requiring upgrades. Even a somewhat ‘simple’ upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 can take months to complete (relative to the size of the business) without professional guidance. Of course, some businesses will rush to get the upgrade complete and cut corners without realising the issues that can cause.

This is where LMS Group come in, we have been enabling businesses to transform, evolve and thrive through technology for 10 years.

We recommend getting in contact with us immediately in order to ensure continuity in your business’ security, compliance and productivity.

We have a tried and tested 3 step method to overcome the 2020 setback.

Step 1) We will perform a full audit of your IT system to highlight any potential vulnerabilities you could face. This will include a report to show the upgrades your business will require.

Step 2) Once you have gone over the report and are comfortable, our team of experts can replace all outdated software to modern and compliant, alternatives.

Step 3) You can then relax, knowing that your business software is up-to-date, secure and has been managed by industry specialists.

You can book your FREE IT security review here, simply fill out the form at the bottom of the page and we will contact you back as soon as possible.

However, If you would like to find out more about the 2020 setback, please do get in contact with us via email at hello@lms.group or call us on 0330 088 2565 for a no-obligation discussion.

Don’t just take our word for it however… To read about how we have helped other businesses stay ahead of the curve, read our Case Studies here.