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Make Sure you Are Using Windows 10

Over a year ago Microsoft ended all support for Windows 7. That means the OS is no longer backed by Microsoft’s technical support, software updates, or security patches and security experts have identified vulnerabilities in the software that are being exploited.

A recent joint cybersecurity advisory issued by the FBI, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns companies about using outdated Windows 7 systems, especially with desktop sharing software and weak account passwords.

T​​​he specific alert comes after an unidentified hacker attacked a water treatment plant in Florida, gaining access to the plant’s network through Windows 7 and a remote access program called TeamViewer. The hacker then took over a user’s mouse and modified chemical dosages of sodium hydroxide to dangerous levels. The user noticed the unusual activity and readjusted the dose to normal levels and alerted IT. T

he attack raises big questions about the vulnerabilities of sticking with Windows 7. A newsworthy event like this is inevitable after a popular operating system reaches its “end of life” stage, where unsupported computers become far more susceptible to infection from viruses, malware, and ransomware. We saw it in the aftermath of Windows XP’s “end of life,” when the WannaCry ransomware strain spread across the globe. We’ll no doubt see it again as more bad actors take advantage of similar vulnerabilities in Windows 7.

Windows 7’s market share didn’t plummet immediately last year when support for it ended. But usage of the legacy operating system has fallen by half. 35% of all PCs were still using Windows 7 in January 2020, while only 17% were still using it in January 2021. Below are some suggestions if Windows 7 is still on any of your machines.

1. Upgrade

According to Microsoft, the path to safety is simple: “the best way for you to stay secure is on Windows 10.” The tech giant’s latest operating system offers faster start-up times, built-in security, and a user-friendly interface.

2. Work With a Trusted Business Partner to Assess Your Existing Hardware

The tech requirements for installing Windows 10 are a processor faster than 1 GHz, at least 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of hard disk space, and 800 x 600 resolution. The general rule of thumb for computers is that anything more than three years old should probably be replaced. If a machine is less than two years old, it can probably handle an upgrade to Windows 10. It is important to work with a trusted IT provider for a comprehensive and objective look at your tech ecosystem.

3. Data Backups

Whether you decide to upgrade to Windows 10 on existing equipment, purchase new computers, or even stick with Windows 7, make sure all of your important files and information are safely and securely backed up, ideally to a remote location. Regular data backups won’t prevent data breaches, network intrusions, and other problems, but they can help to mitigate threats and vulnerabilities.

4. Can't Upgrade? Isolate it

If you do need to keep using a computer with Windows 7, make sure it is isolated from the rest of your office network and disconnected from the Internet when possible. Increase the strength of the password protecting it and make sure it does not have any version of remote access software installed on it. This may require an IT provider to scan it for vulnerabilities. You should proceed with caution if you are going to continue to use Windows 7.

5. Education

The lesson of the water treatment plant attack is that an alert employee saved the day. Training your employees to identify malware, ransomware, phishing, and other unusual activities gives your company an extra first line of defense.

At Dallas Network Services, we work with a large variety of businesses based in Dallas and Fort Worth (DFW) and the surrounding area such as Addison, Plano, Carrollton, Denton, Richardson, Garland and beyond. We also extend our reach outside the area to include all Texas and other states. We provide on premise server support including Microsoft Exchange as well as Cloud computing services and hosted solutions. We specialize project services, network support, desktop support and voice over IP (VoIP) business phones. Our fully managed IT services will improve your business reliability as well as your bottom line. Contact us today at chat or call 214-696-6630. #DNS#dallasnetworkservices#techsupport#hacker#cybersecurity#MSP

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