It’s been awhile since my PC has been compromised. Years in fact. As a road warrior I am constantly travelling, tapping into public networks and accessing critical data and applications that I need to meet deadlines, make decisions and generally just do my job. I worry about a lot of things but worrying about the health of my PC is not something I want to add to the list.

On April 8, 2014, Microsoft is retiring Windows XP. For those people still running on the old operating system, it means no more “Windows Update” messages in the bottom right corner of their task bar. I’m glad I’m not one of them. I rely on those “critical security updates” to keep everything running smoothly and protect me from cyber threats, something our American neighbours have called, “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.”

In concert with this statement, the US has also established a new security framework and are counting on IT folks like us to spread the message to help businesses stay on top of the necessary protocols, policies and software updates to protect their operations. In fact, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Johnson called out to IT with a very plain statement, “Our challenge is for the cyber geeks among us to be able to properly, in plain terms, convey the extent of concerns to the broader American public.”  A pointed message from the US; but whether you are running your business here in Canada or in any other part of the world, the internet has removed every security border.

Out of curiosity I checked my update history – no less than 5 updates in the last month alone. Microsoft is ranked as one of the best in the world at keeping their operating systems protected which means keeping me and my PC ready to go 24/7.

XP has been around for 13 years and for businesses who are running tried and true applications and don’t like a lot of change, what Windows has been quietly doing in the background is suddenly going to be gone. And the digital world has transformed since XP was first released. In the last 10 years, Internet usage has gone from 361 million to more than 2.4 billion. Individuals and businesses spend more time online than ever and our reliance on computing has turned our tablets, phones and laptops into encyclopaedias of confidential information about our customers and ourselves. An attractive target for sophisticated cyber criminals to attack. And attack they will.Windows XP deadline

Earlier this year one of my colleagues mentioned that her son had totalled his very expensive sports car in a roll-over. Thankfully he was not injured, nor was anyone else. When she reminded him not to feel too bad, insurance would cover it, he responded with a grimace and the news that he had gotten too busy to renew: his insurance had lapsed a few weeks earlier. Not only was that an expensive financial mistake, his wings have been clipped. He is taking the bus everywhere.

Microsoft has had our backs for years, investing billions of dollars into keeping our systems safe. It appears to have lulled many businesses into a false sense of security as there are thousands who will still be on XP after the deadline. If you are one of the businesses in that camp, and like my colleague’s son and his car, simply got too busy to get around to addressing the XP deadline, don’t worry, but give us a call. Navantis can do a fast assessment and provide you with a roadmap designed to help you migrate quickly. Take a minute to reach out to the experts at Navantis. It’s a free first meeting. You’ll be glad you did.