Barely a week seems to go by where cyber crime fails to make the headlines.
You’ll most likely remember the major ‘WannaCry’ hack on the NHS in May 2017, when more than a third of trusts in England were disrupted, 200,000 computers locked out users and more than 19,000 patient appointments were cancelled.
At the time the NHS was criticised for using outdated IT systems, including Windows XP, and was forced to spend £72 million on the subsequent clean-up and IT upgrades.
But cyber criminals do not reserve their best work solely for multi-national corporations and organisations. Small businesses, too, are at risk in an age where a quick buck can be made by those with the knowledge to hijack and bring down computer networks.
That’s why January 14, 2020 should be etched on all of our minds – the date when Microsoft plans to withdraw support for its Windows 7 software.
In fact, the US-based multi-national technology company pulled mainstream support for Windows 7 on January 13, 2015, meaning it no longer provided non-critical security updates, made design changes, or offered complimentary support for the OS to end users.
Extended support – updates, bug fixes and paid support for businesses using the operating system – comes to an end on January 14 next year.
So why is that so important?
Firstly, it gives businesses that are still running Windows 7 on any of their computers a firm date to work with in terms of securing an update. Windows 10, as Microsoft’s very latest operating system, is the recommended upgrade, as it receives automatic updates that help to protect you (and your files) from disaster.
All ZOLLER machines operate on Windows software and, as such, we have been contacting all of our customers to make them aware of what the changes mean.
It should be made clear that ZOLLER presetting and measurement systems will not suddenly stop working. ZOLLER UK’s dedicated service engineers will continue to make it their priority to ensure that your technology always performs at its optimum level.
However, relying on an outdated software system no longer supported by Windows does make a network vulnerable to the sort of security threats that continue to dominate the news.
The 2018 Cyber Security Breaches Survey found 19 per cent of charities and 43 per cent of businesses had reported cyber security breaches or attacks in the last 12 months. That rose to seven in 10 (72 per cent) among large businesses.
To counteract this very serious risk, ZOLLER UK is strongly recommending that its customers consider upgrading their operating system to Windows 10, to give them and their businesses complete peace of mind moving forward.
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William said: “IT security is an issue that sometimes gets overlooked in the daily rush of production, but it’s of vital importance.
“As with any other PC, when critical software and updates are not installed malware can exploit the loopholes that haven’t been patched.
“It is not only the security of the systems that can be improved. Other benefits can include smoother and often faster operation, more economical use of memory and disk space, and improved boot-up times.
“Naturally, as our systems have an impressive service life span, we have some ZOLLER customers who are still users of Windows XP, a software package for which Windows has already withdrawn all support. In the event of a critical PC failure, those users will need to upgrade their operating system before their machine can be repaired, a process which can have a lead time of six weeks.
“We realise that time is money, so we’d urge people to act immediately to safeguard the future of their manufacturing operations.”
It’s never too soon to ensure that you’re protected. Now is the ideal opportunity to take stock of your business’s assets to identify where Windows 10 upgrades are needed.
By doing so, you’ll be future-proofing your infrastructure and giving yourself the very best chance of halting increasingly aggressive cyber criminals in their tracks.