Millions of Insecure Windows Machines Online
Windows 7 and 8.1 systems no longer receive security updates – millions of computers have become “ticking bombs”. Support for Windows 10 will end soon. Windows 8.1 PCs are also becoming outdated: “Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for Windows 8.1 after January 10, 2023,” says Microsoft’s website. Some users can still update their devices to a newer version of Windows, but most of them don’t meet the hardware requirements for this step.
Even for computers still running old Windows 7, it is not supported as of today. Until now, companies and authorities could buy a grace period and extend security updates to Windows 7 – that too is gone.
Windows 7 is still running on every tenth computer
However, many users are still holding on to their old, precarious systems: according to data from statistics portal Statcounter, the outdated Windows 7 was still running on one in ten Windows PCs worldwide in December. In Germany, things are a little better – but there are also reports that in this country the security software company ESET still has 1.7 million Windows 7 PCs.
Along with other operating systems Windows 8 and XP, which are no longer supported, there are approximately three million unsecured devices in use in private households in Germany.
Simply surfing the Internet can become dangerous.
This can have dire consequences for computer users, warns IT specialist Christian Loj, from security software company ESET, in an interview with ZDFheute: Outdated operating systems without security updates are “time bombs”. Many users underestimated the risks – even surfing the Internet can become dangerous:
All you have to do is visit the wrong website or click on a malicious link in a spam email and malware can be implanted in you. At worst, with an outdated operating system, your computer is left open like a barn door.
Online banking and even all website logins with a password will become an immeasurable risk.
In 2021, there were approximately 1,300 vulnerabilities in Microsoft
The problem: New security vulnerabilities are constantly being created in operating systems and software. For 2021 alone, Microsoft’s security report shows nearly 1,300 product vulnerabilities. With older systems, these vulnerabilities are no longer documented and certainly not closed. Criminals love to take advantage of this – news of such vulnerabilities spreads instantly on hacker forums, explains Lueg.
It’s not just private computers that are being controlled: Hackers have already exploited these frequently exposed vulnerabilities, and entire multi-story parking lots have been rigged so that barriers don’t open and close, according to Log. Hospitals have also been brought to a standstill in this way, which can be life threatening.”
Windows 10 will also reach end of support soon
It can be annoying and sometimes expensive: IT security experts advise using only current operating systems that are constantly updated. The same applies to programs – it is better to activate the automatic update function when it becomes available.
And sometimes the end of support for systems comes sooner than you think. Microsoft announced in late December that there should be no more security updates for Windows 10 starting in Fall 2025. Systems that meet the appropriate hardware requirements can upgrade to Windows 11 for free.