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Windows 7 user? Then the FBI wants you to secure your computer

Or, you know, get Windows 10.

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Image: Microsoft

11 fateful years ago, Microsoft unleashed its Windows 7 hardware. That’s right, all the way back in 2009. Then, for some reason, it released Windows 8. It was horrible, so a lot of people simply stuck with Windows 7. Some of them have never left. This is why, last week, the FBI has released a Private Industry Notification (PIN) urging Windows 7 users to secure their PC.

See, the problem is that Microsoft no longer supports Windows 7. So, every time someone finds a weakness in the code and exploits it, there will be no patch update to secure the OS. As if Bill Gates doesn’t have enough to worry about! This puts your PC at risk of attack; a circumstance nobody wants to find themselves in. So, what is the FBI’s advice here? Let’s take a look.

A threat to security

The US authorities might not see Windows 7 as a threat to national security in the same way as TikTok. However, they do urge both personal and business users to secure their PC if Windows 7 is the operating system. They state that “[as] of May 2019, an open-source report indicated 71 percent of Windows devices used in healthcare organizations ran an operating system that became unsupported in
January 2020. Increased compromises have been observed in the healthcare industry when an operating system has achieved end of life status. After the Windows XP end of life on 28 April 2014, the healthcare industry saw a large increase of exposed records the following year.”

What does this mean? Well, they’re saying that if you use outdated software, you’re more prone to having your data stolen. We’ve had PC security threats like this since the invention of MS-DOS. 1986 saw Brain – the first MS-DOS virus – released onto IBM PCs. It may not have been as advanced as some of the more dangerous modern viruses out there. However, it does show us one thing; we never learn from our mistakes. We’ll continue to follow blindly what we think is right. In this case, continuing the use of Windows 7.

Time to update from Windows 7

Look, EVERY time ANY platform releases an OS update, people start to complain. This is partially justified; why release a seemingly unfinished product. Well, let’s be honest, it isn’t really fair to berate a brand if an ecosystem as massive as an OS isn’t completely watertight on release.

It might be a piece of software, but it is still prone to human error. It is created by humans, after all. The point here is don’t be put off by what others are saying. Shop around for some expert opinion.

Image: Microsoft

The advice of the FBI, here, comes in the form of four bullet points. Firstly, they suggest you update your OS to the latest supported version. Secondly, they recommend getting your anti-virus up to scratch. Thirdly, (this is most likely for business users) they suggest isolating any computers that you can’t update and auditing the network config for weaknesses. Finally, (again for business users) they say you should check up on any systems using remote desktop protocol, as these are easily exploitable in Windows 7.

It will all be OK…

…if you just update to the latest damn software. Honestly, it isn’t that bad. I use Windows 10 and my PC is nice and secure. It also does what I want it to. Just give it a try, you might like it! But in all seriousness, update your PC to the latest system software. This way, you know you are protected from malicious attacks because the people who created it are constantly fixing exploits. You can upgrade fo free direct from the Microsoft store.

That said, for businesses using multiple pieces of software, updating can be a bit more difficult, but that is why the FBI’s bullet points 3 and 4 exist.

If you’re not keen on Windows full stop, then why not try a macOS device? Or perhaps you could even head down the Linux route? Whatever you choose to do, just try and ensure your software is kept up to date and you shouldn’t need to worry too much about your PC security.

What do you think? Are you still running Windows 7? Is there a reason you haven’t updated? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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