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Staying secure upon the death of Windows XP

Extended support for XP will soon be no more. Tom Brewster asks if your business is ready for the deadline?

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, by placing XP machines on a dedicated network segment to prevent access from other machines in the organisation's environment, can help minimise the threat from malicious hackers. User accounts could also be limited, reducing their privileges, meaning that if a hacker does compromise the machine, they won't be able to easily acquire root access to the system.

Migrating data and apps

Once the preparations have been made, it's time to consider whether the business should even stick with Windows, given other options might be cheaper and more secure.

"What people upgrade to depends on their needs. For some people a Chromebook is a great alternative. Otherwise, there are plenty of free Linux distributions available. Alternatively, if you have cash, Mac is a good alternative," says Malik.

Then comes the process of migrating applications and data to the new OS, whatever it is. The cloud can be of assistance here, from both data storage and security perspectives. "There are a ton of cloud services people can use to back up their data, so they can upgrade without losing information," Malik adds.

Solid Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies should also allow for continuity during migration, or a completely new option away from Windows. "For those that have failed to take the necessary steps to upgrade, we may see these businesses embracing Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD), where employees bring their own personal devices for work purposes, as a quick solution to the problem. BYOD potentially offers a fast track to upgrading outdated systems as employees, who tend to be using newer operating systems at home, can thus increase the levels of protection to a business' IT system," says Mark Brown, director of information security at consultancy EY.

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