Zero Day Threat: Hackers starting to target Windows XP

May 5, 2014


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By Sachin Sharma, Product Marketing Manager, End-User Computing, VMware

Everyone in IT knew this day was coming: April 8, 2014. This was the official date that Microsoft ended support for Windows XP.  Business across the world had ample time to migrate their PCs from Windows XP to Windows 7, or even Windows 8. Many organizations put plans in place to get their systems off of Windows XP. Some organizations used manual processes, others used homegrown tools, and others used third party solutions that provided more automation. Yet, according to data, Windows XP still makes up nearly 27% of operating systems on desktops as of April 2014. Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture? Without support, security, and patch updates for Windows XP, aren’t machines that run XP operating systems going to be a prime target for hackers come April 8th, 2014?

Well, guess what, the zero day threat has arrived. Hackers are starting to take advantage of Microsoft’s end of support for Windows XP. According to this LinkedIn article, hackers have begun exploiting flaws in IE 6 through 11. If you have Windows XP and you’re using IE 6-11, you won’t be receiving any security updates. This is just an example of the threats that your organization can go through if Windows XP is still employed in your environment. We’re not even a month removed from the end of support deadline. I’d suspect several, if not many more threats like this to follow over the next year. So what do you do if you’re still on Windows XP? Easy…migrate to Windows 7…with VMware Mirage!

For those organizations who are facing challenges with Windows XP migration, for those haven’t begun the migration process, and even for those who are still evaluating solutions to help them with the migration process, I encourage you to take a look at VMware Mirage. Mirage provides unified image management for physical, virtual, and BYO devices. This means Mirage can help an IT organization manage operating system updates, application install and updates, and patch updates. Also included under the umbrella of image management by Mirage are options for automated backup and full system recovery, as well as OS and hardware migration.

When specifically speaking to Windows XP migration, Mirage offers quick migration paths to Windows 7, or even Windows 7 to Windows 8.1. For example, IT can choose to backup their end-users XP devices, or choose a “no upload” policy for even quicker migrations. Backing up XP devices gives IT a revert to snapshot option, such that if anything bad happens during the migration process, IT can revert that user’s machine back to Windows XP. Think of that as a built-in safety net. With a “no upload” policy, IT doesn’t have to spend time backing up any XP devices. They simply create their Windows 7 image, push it down to their XP devices, reboot, and voila…the Windows XP device gets migrated to Windows 7 with all user personalization intact. Regardless of which approach IT takes, end-user downtime is always kept to a minimum – usually a half hour or so. That will keep your end-users productive, so they should have no excuses! IT can perform mass migrations to the tune of dozens, or even hundreds of migrations per day or week.

These are just some of the benefits IT and end-users receive when using VMware Mirage as their Windows XP migration solution. To read about more of the benefits Mirage provides, check out one of my previous blog posts.

Don’t get into trouble by staying on Windows XP!


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