Microsoft officially ended support for Windows XP on April 8, but lots of computers out there are still running the operating system launched in 2001. What’s worse is that thousands of websites are still hosted on servers running Windows XP, according to a new research, including pages belonging to governments across the world.A research published by Netcraft today shows that more than 6,000 large websites are still hosted on machines powered by Windows XP, with China accounting for 3 percent of these total figures.
A total of 14 US government websites are running on XP, including a webmail system used by the State of Utah, the research shows.
“Unsupported web-facing Windows XP servers are likely to become prime targets for hackers, particularly if any new Windows XP vulnerabilities are discovered, as no security updates will be available to fix them,” Netcraft said in the research.
But if you’re thinking that running Windows XP is a very risky thing, you should also find out that 500,000 websites out there are still running Windows 2000, which was discontinued by Microsoft in July 2010. This means that Windows XP-powered websites could stay there more than anyone expected, so prepare for an avalanche of hacks in the coming months if unpatched vulnerabilities are discovered.
“Netcraft's April 2014 survey also found 50,000 websites which are hosted on even older Windows NT4 servers running Microsoft IIS 4.0, although three quarters of these sites are served from the same computer in Norway. One of the busiest sites still running on Windows NT4 is the Australian Postal Corporation's post.com.au, which has been using the same operating system for at least 13 years,” the research revealed.
As far as consumers are concerned, 28 percent of the computers worldwide are running it, despite the warnings released by Microsoft in the last few months. This means that millions of computers could become vulnerable overnight if hackers find unpatched flaws, so experts warn that moving to a newer OS version that still receives support is the only way to stay secure.
Third-party security software working on Windows XP will still be available, but Microsoft warns that running an anti-virus product and a firewall to keep your computer secure won’t be enough because the operating system won’t benefit from any other patches and improvements that could block existing flaws and prevent any attackers from reaching your personal files stored on the local drives.