Expert Comment

TechRepublic: Patching XP forever won't stop next WannaCrypt


Dave Chismon argues that it is unreasonable to expect a company to support a product forever, particularly when not paying them to do so.

In an article by TechRepublic, MWR senior security consultant Dave Chismon says that "continuing to support outdated operating systems costs Microsoft significantly as each patch has to be tested rigorously to reduce the risk of the patch stopping something working. It is not reasonable to expect a company to support a product forever, particularly when not paying them to do so.

In further insight, however, he says that this can be frustrating to organisations who run equipment where there is no easy way to upgrade software and it is not reasonable to replace the equipment on the same timescale as operating systems are replaced. For example, a hospital may budget to depreciate an MRI machine that runs an operating a system over one to two decades, whilst several operating systems will come and go in that time. Windows 7 is incredibly common throughout organisations and the concerns that ensued when Windows XP went out of support will undoubtedly be repeated in three years’ time when Microsoft stops supporting Windows 7. 

Organizations should instead plan for the fact that they won’t be able to upgrade operating systems on some equipment. For example, by having equipment that they know will eventually go out of support on separate network segments, it means that should malware get into an organisation’s corporate LAN, it cannot affect the devices running an outdated operating system. By modelling how attacks get into and move around an organisation, targets can work out how to protect devices where certain controls, such as patching, can’t be relied upon.



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