Despite the imminent arrival of Windows 10, thousands of businesses and organizations around the world continue to cling to Windows XP. In the business world, this position is increasingly dangerous to a company’s bottom line for a variety of reasons, but for the world’s most (arguably) powerful navy, it could be downright dangerous. The US Navy is actually paying Microsoft nearly $10M to continue to support and patch the expired OS, which was officially “put out to pasture” over a year ago. With over 100K Windows XP computers powering critical systems, the Navy still has a tremendous undertaking to phase the (un)dead OS out of daily operations.
What this means for you:
In a broader sense, it’s disheartening (and a little frightening) to think that our shores are being defended by warships powered by a 14-year old operating system, but the government, like our aircraft carriers, have never been capable of quick maneuvering, so this should come as little surprise to anyone. The fact that many businesses still heavily rely on XP despite repeated warnings from just about everyone in the industry is indicative of a larger problem, which is partly the industry’s fault, as well as a certain willful blindness we all share.
From an IT perspective, we’ve historically done a poor job preparing everyone for the security issues we now face, perhaps relying too heavily on tools and fixes, instead of emphasizing education and reforming business thinking. From an individual (and probably first-world) perspective, we’ve allowed ourselves to become increasingly reliant on technology to accomplish even the most basic tasks, and have built complex technological systems that support our daily lives that most of us can barely comprehend, let alone troubleshoot. A simple password hack can turn into a life-altering identity theft only because most of us fail to truly understand how everything is intertwined, and our personal veils of security are only as strong as the weakest password in your entire collection. The same can be said of your technology infrastructure: you are only as strong as the lowliest of forgotten XP machines on your network, and that isn’t very strong at all, regardless of how much you pay Microsoft.