Yes, you’ve heard that song before—but no, don’t tune it out
Ashlee Aleshire-Ash, Senior IT Support Specialist, Bankers’ Bank of the West
Posted May 2019

Recently, a newly discovered security vulnerability made the news. We hear about security issues continually, so why should this instance have garnered any attention? For good reason: Instead of targeting newer systems like Windows 10, this vulnerability is specific to computers using older, end-of-life operating systems. The potential for damage from this vulnerability is so great, Microsoft has released a security update for Windows XP for the first time in over two years. For reference, support and updates for Windows XP were discontinued in April of 2014. This is kind of a big deal.

The vulnerability in question allows remote attackers to take control of an affected system without a username or password. The havoc they can wreak once inside a system is limitless. For example, if they gain access to an unpatched Windows XP system, they can create new accounts with full administrative rights, install programs, and view sensitive data—financial records, personal identifiable information, and the like. Everything.

We’ve all heard the refrain before: Update your systems, your applications, your passwords. It’s advice often falls on deaf ears. But this exploit highlights why IT professionals regularly hit the “replay” button. Older systems, particularly those that are no longer being updated, are especially vulnerable to attacks. Luckily in this case, Microsoft understood the severity of the issue and stepped up to fix it. Still, the fact remains: Ensuring you have the most up-to-date operating systems and applications installed on your devices is the most effective way to keep yourself and your data safe.

You’ve heard the song before and will surely hear it again: Please be sure your devices have the most current operating systems and programs available for your hardware. You are the most important component to keeping your data safe.