Getting Ready for XP’s End of Life

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 @ 04:12 PM gHale

While it has been an established fact for some time, the deadline is approaching and Microsoft will stop offering support and security updates and patches for Windows XP as of April 8, 2014, that means control systems that run on XP are at serious risk of infection.

To help automation engineers prepare for XP’s end of life, a new white paper written by Eric Reichert, a network security researcher at Phoenix Contact outlines the steps an industrial company can take to prepare.

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WIN XP — Don’t Get Left Behind” examines two courses of action XP users can take: Upgrade the entire system, or continue to run on the platform, but with increased security measures.

“If you’re using outdated industrial PC hardware, the smartest move is to put together a detailed upgrade implementation plan,” said Eric Reichert, product marketing specialist for industrial PCs at Phoenix Contact. “Rolling out a new operating system company-wide can take up to a year and a half.”

Not every XP user has the time, money or interest to upgrade. In that case, users still should take steps to improve network security.

“If you belong to the ‘it’s not broke, so don’t fix it’ school of thought, and feel it isn’t practical or economical to update your operating system platform, you still need to prepare for the possibility of cyber attacks or unintentional infection,” said Dan Schaffer, Phoenix Contact’s business development manager for networking and security.

Since data from Net Applications, a web analytics firm, shows 31.6 percent of users are still on XP as of October 2013, questions remain as to whether or not corporations should make the switch and whether or not this end of life (EOL) is of concern to them, the paper said. While no one expects that come April 9, they will walk into their factories and experience immediate downtime and attacks, those that have standardized on the platform realize that the threat is imminent nonetheless, the paper said. Leading up to this event, there will be both those making the argument for the upgrade, as well as those opposing it.

Click here to register to download the white paper.

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