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Many businesses still dependent on outdated software

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/niroworld)

A significant portion of the country’s businesses still rely on old, dead operating systems, which puts them at grave cybersecurity risk. 

Research by Kaspersky found that four in ten of very small businesses (VSB), and roughly half of small and medium-sized businesses (SMB), still rely on operating systems such as Windows XP or Windows 7 which are nearing their end of life.

Passing end of life means these operating systems no longer receive regular patches and security updates. If a vulnerability gets uncovered after the operating system loses support, it won’t be patched, meaning hackers would be able to exploit it for their own interests.

Kaspersky claims that one per cent of VSBs uses Windows XP, a version that hasn’t been updated in ten years. An even smaller number (0.2 per cent) still uses Windows Vista, whose support ended seven years ago. Some businesses still use Windows 8.1, as well, an operating system whose support ended in January 2016.

Then, there is Windows 7, a version which is nearing its end of life (January 2020). Kaspersky says it’s “still a popular choice for consumers and businesses”, claiming that more than a third of VSBs, and almost half of SMBs still run it.

“The widespread use of Windows 7 is concerning, as there is less than six months to go until this version becomes unsupported. The reasons behind this lag vary depending on the software in place, which may be unable to run on the newest OS versions, to economic reasons and even just down to habit. Nonetheless, an old unpatched OS is a cybersecurity risk – the cost of an incident may be substantially higher than the cost of upgrading,” said Alexey Pankratov, Enterprise Solutions Manager, Kaspersky.