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18% of SMBs still using Windows XP despite security risks

Small and medium sized businesses [SMBs] are risking a security meltdown by continuing to use Microsoft Windows XP despite the fact that Microsoft has all but abandoned the outdated OS.

Related: Is your business still stuck on Windows XP? Don’t panic

Bitdefender conducted a three month study that worked out 18 per cent of SMBs are conducting everyday business using the OS and those using it after the 8 April cut off date are open to real security risks.

“A few weeks after the end of support announcement, a new Internet Explorer zero-day vulnerability turned into a permanent threat for XP users,” states Catalin Cosoi, Chief Security Strategist at Bitdefender. “That was until Microsoft issued a patch that was made available for Windows XP users as well. However, this was an exception that shouldn’t make enterprises believe it will happen again, so the swift migration from XP is a must for all users.”

The research covered 5,000 companies in areas including retail, healthcare and education across the UK, Germany, Spain and the US, and looked at the wider issues of malware attacks against enterprises. Worryingly it reported that one marketing business dealt with almost 800 million attacks in the three months from March to May 2014, the highest of any enterprise surveyed.

Bitdefender’s numbers also showed that 37 per cent of SMB employees are working either remotely or from home thus presenting bring your own device trends and security risks that otherwise wouldn’t be present. Even more worrying is the fact that 17 per cent of SMBs admitted to allowing employee-owned mobile devices full access to the company virtual private network [VPN].

Related: How risky will it be to keep running Windows XP now support has ended?

When it comes to new versions of Windows, 53 per cent of firms have already upgraded to Windows 7 Professional whereas just a small percentage of SMBs have been persuaded to adopt other Windows versions including 7 Home Premium and 8.1 Pro.