According to Microsoft, Windows 10 is “The best Windows ever” – in Switzerland the outdated Windows 7 can become the “best Windows ever” for cyber criminals.
Users are often reluctant to change operating systems on their PCs. What goes well is not touched – you never know what surprises or incompatibilities the new systems will lead to other outdated software. Understandable, but potentially fatal. Old software opens doors and gates for cyber criminals and hackers.
Whether Windows 10 from Microsoft can actually be “The best Windows ever” depends on the habits and opinions of its users. The fact is that around 10 percent of users in Switzerland still seem to consider versions 8, 7, XP and Vista to be the best Windows of all time; users are currently still on the move with these outdated versions. The security company Eset finds strong words for this high rate: a security meltdown. Eset develops security solutions, uses its software on more than 100 million PCs worldwide and has analyzed who is using which operating system.
Who uses which operating system?
The world is still ticking with Microsoft Windows – also in Switzerland with a lion’s share of a good 67 percent, followed by Mac OS with an impressive 30 percent. The remaining percentage points are distributed among Linux (1.29 percent), Chrome OS (0.24 percent) and other (0.94 percent).
To stick with Windows: In Switzerland, the majority of devices run on Windows 10, but the proportion of outdated Windows versions is still alarmingly high.
Windows 7 is still installed on 200,000 computers – support for this operating system was discontinued by Microsoft a good year ago. And Windows 8, XP or Vista are used on more than 30,000 PCs. Operating systems that have not been updated for years. Specifically, this means:
Uncovered security gaps for these Windows versions are no longer closed by Microsoft updates. As a result, the operating systems are becoming increasingly “permeable” and an invitation to hackers and cybercriminals who use these loopholes to cause damage.
Thomas Uhlemann, Security Specialist at Eset, recognizes an enormous security risk for Internet users and says:
Many users underestimate the security risk of an outdated Windows version – one vulnerability is enough and the computers are open like a barn door for cyber criminals
Information about known security vulnerabilities spreads very quickly in the relevant underground forums and is used for a variety of attack scenarios.
If it hits private users, this is hard and can also have unpleasant consequences in personal areas. If PCs or entire networks in SMEs are affected, the consequences can be even more serious.
How can the use of the operating system dinosaur affect the event of damage?
In addition to data theft or blackmail attempts in connection with hacked systems, Eset’s security specialists name a few other areas with potentially drastic consequences. In particular, if grossly negligent behavior can be assumed through the use of outdated operating systems.
Collision with data protection regulations
It can become very expensive for companies as soon as personal data is processed on these devices. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) clearly requires compliance with the state of the art.
Failure of insurance benefits
Under certain circumstances, cyber insurance benefits will no longer be applicable in the event of a claim if the use of old software encourages hacking attacks and damage.
Elimination of claims for compensation in online banking
And now the experts with recommendations that everyone knows. But with 232,300 vulnerable devices in Switzerland alone, a refresher can’t hurt:
Even if the change is difficult at first, the latest Windows version should always be used. Users who still rely on old versions such as 7 or XP should upgrade as soon as possible. Eset recommends that users switch to Windows 10. A Linux distribution can also be a good alternative.
The operating system, the hardware and the installed software should always be up to date. Users should import any updates provided immediately. It is advisable to activate the automatic update function, if available.
Use security software
According to security experts, modern internet security software is a must. In addition to e-mails and websites, the security solution must also check removable media such as USB sticks, the network interfaces and the RAM for malware. The solution should also have an exploit blocker that provides reliable protection in an emergency if an update for the respective software is not yet available.
The recommendations listed apply, apart from the switch to Windows 10, of course also for users of Mac OS or Linux and other operating systems within their respective system environments.
Is Switzerland a special case?
No, in other countries the inertia to upgrade is also present, in neighboring Germany it is even more pronounced, as the graphic shows.