June 8, 2014

5 Security Tips for Windows XP Survival as the Support Ended

Recently, Microsoft ended their support for decade-old Windows XP OS for the reason that your computer may be exposed to potential risks such as security, compliance, lack of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) support, and Hardware manufacturer support. For 12 years, Microsoft has been providing security updates and technical support for Windows XP customers and partners, and there will be no longer updates or patches available from now.


Around 30% of web-connected PCs are still having Windows XP as their main operating system. But, from now there will be an increase in number of critical security holes and the exploitation of your personal data. To rid of this exploitation, you should migrate to either Windows XP or Windows 8/8.1 operating systems.

If you are switching to Windows 7 or 8/8.1, you have to know about how to migrate easily from Windows XP. If not, you must follow the below 5 security tips for windows survival as the support ended.

Choose a Smart Antivirus Suite

One should choose a really smart and proactive antivirus suite to fight against critical vulnerabilities in Windows XP OS. Not doing so, the hackers will have a greater chance of exploiting your PC. After all, purchasing a full antivirus suite is better than upgrading to a new system. Some good antivirus like Kaspersky, Norton, Avast, AVG, ESET NOD32, etc. are out there in the market which provides complete protection to your PC in all aspects. For second layer of protection, you can choose anti-malware tools like Malwarebytes Anti-malware or firewall security programs that offer good defense mechanism.


For enterprise customers, small or medium businesses, there are premium versions available which are expensive but worth buying for.

Remove Flash, Adobe Reader and Java

An unsupported OS with Flash, Java, and Adobe Reader is more vulnerable to viruses, malware, spyware, Trojans and other threats. With the advent of HTML5, we require no more Flash to watch videos as video streaming giants like YouTube and Netflix uses HTML5. Although, Java is still the most popular and widely used software platform to run PC and web applications, there’s no need to install, unless you go for daily basis. Finally, there are many alternatives for Adobe Reader such as Nitro PDF, Foxit Reader, LibreOffice etc., which are not only secure but offer most of its features.


Say ‘NO’ to Internet Explorer – Use Updated Browsers

Chrome and Mozilla Firefox hasn’t stopped supporting Windows XP, so it’s better to switch your browser to Chrome or Firefox, as Internet Explorer 8 is XP’s recent version available. IE 8 is an extremely outdated web browser concerning security reasons. Most modern browsers have built-in web security like Add-ons and extensions that blocks JavaScript from running malicious codes.


Get Rid of Junk Tools and Programs

Another security risk when you are using an outdated OS, which needed to be fixed is ‘Junk programs’. Uninstall all unnecessary third-party tools and programs to remain clutter-free. Use tools like Revo Uninstaller, IObit Uninstaller, and Advanced Uninstaller to completely remove including the registry entries and patches. A lot of developers still offer updates to their software, at least for another year, so there’s no problem in updating the required applications.


Stay Offline or Reduce your Account Access

Some Windows XP users use their PCs just for watching movies, playing music, or games which don’t require an internet connection. If you are not connected to the Internet, then 90% of the risks is reduced. You can limit your account access in the User Control Panel such that no update or software installation is done automatically or manually. Stay away from administrator accounts, as they give hackers admittance to take advantage of your system.


Another excellent way to continue is setting up a Windows XP 'Virtual Machine' without purchasing additional license. You can buy virtual machine software, get a boxed copy of Windows XP or use free VMware Player or VirtualBox. The problem in using virtual machines is if an application requires a direct access to a piece of software, it may not work.

Verdict:

If you just don’t want to buy a new PC with a new version of Windows, the old XP works fine for you. Unless, there is a huge vulnerability or critical situation, Windows XP can exist for a long time. As long as you don’t update the drivers or softwares which are not compatible with Windows XP, there is no stopping running the OS.
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