Petronella Blog Archive

Visit our New Blog

Learn How to Protect Yourself from Cyber Criminals Targeting Windows XP

Blog Post

Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014 and expects security threats to be rampant for users of the 12 year old operating system. At the time of this writing, Microsoft is still supporting Windows XP but has reported that the users are much more vulnerable to malware even though Windows 8 encounters the same amount of malware. The security features built into Windows XP over a decade ago are no longer effective at mitigating modern day attacks. The chart below was published by Microsoft in the final quarter of 2012 and shows how high these malware infection rates are for today’s XP users.

So how do you defend yourself?

Figure 1: Infection rate (CCM) by operating system and service pack in the fourth quarter of 2012 as reported in the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report volume 14.

Although you probably don’t want to hear this, the best defense is upgrading to a newer operating system. It is inevitable that you will have to migrate off this old operating system as the programs written for the system will probably stop being supported as Microsoft’s support ends soon. The entire migration process can be extremely time consuming and may need to be done in phases. If you are worried that you will not be fully migrated off XP by the April deadline, follow these steps to lower your risk of becoming a victim of the incumbent attacks.

1. Install an antivirus program and keep it up-to-date.
Anti-virus software is designed to scan your system for virus trying to get into your files. These viruses literally change overnight and you must keep the software up-to-date to ensure your protection.

2. Be extremely careful when dealing with attachments to emails.
It is best to ignore emails from senders that you are unfamiliar with and attachments that you do not recognize. If you open an email and it is spam you should report it by using the spam button on your email client. It has been reported that unsubscribe buttons are sometimes used to trigger a malware attack. Report it as spam instead.

3. Always be skeptical of pop-up windows and error messages.
Use a pop-up blocker and avoid clicking on pop-windows and error messages at all costs. If a pop-up comes up, try to force quit out of the window if possible. If something does begin to download you should close the program immediately and run your anti-virus scan.

4. Use a firewall.
The firewall can alert you to suspicious actions on your network and prevent attackers from downloading harmful programs onto your computers.

5. Be overly cautious about downloading any new software.
Many viruses are disguised as relevant software downloads. It is extremely important to double check before downloading any new software. If your company has a network of computers, you should restrict download access for most users. This would require administrator-level permission before downloading anything.

To learn more about anti-virus programs or installing firewalls contact us at Petronella Technology Group, Inc.. We are experts at protecting your system and giving you piece of mind. Migrating off Windows XP does not have to be a nightmare, let us help. Contact us today for a free consultation, call (919) 422-2607 or go to