Security flaws, lack of compliance expose Windows 2003 to cyber threats
If you haven’t moved off of Windows Server 2003 since it has approached end-of-life, you’re leaving yourself wide open to security breaches that can cripple your business. As of July 14, 2015, it’s time to get serious and protect your assets.
“It actually is a big deal,” says Alan West, founder and chairman of XMS Solutions, a Microsoft Gold Partner. “You need to get [Server] 2003 off the network. If you have [Server] 2003 on the network, it will be a jumping-off point [for hackers]. Hackers will know of Server 2003 weaknesses because of vulnerabilities identified in 2008 or 2012.”
Every Microsoft product has an end-of-life which signals when the support will be cut off for the product. Hosting providers and vendors keep a close eye on these dates to keep their customers informed of the dangers of running software or hardware that eclipses its life-cycle.
What kind of support are we talking about? This usually pertains to automatic fixes, updates or online technical assistance, but the most critical piece is the security updates that you no longer receive.
Without protection from viruses, spyware, malware and other malicious attacks, even amateur hackers can find a way into your business and compromise your system.
At the moment, millions of customers are susceptible to hackers due to the end-of-life support for Windows 2003, and hosting providers are doing everything they can to keep customers in the know so they aren’t left vulnerable to cyber threats.
Ramin Edmond of CRN considers each security flaw that emerges once the patching stops will likely be exposed quickly by cyber criminals. He reports 37 critical updates were released in 2013 for Server 2003 (averaging just over three a month). Edmond also explains that this makes the Windows product fail to comply with PCI and HIPAA compliance standards.
Updating or migrating software is often pushed off by businesses that are trying to watch the bottom line and having difficulties justifying the investment. It’s a mindset that service providers are trying to offset by providing adequate education around the issue. Delaying the investment to update could result in a hacked system that ends up costing you much more – it could even cost your whole business.
Without migrating or updating your system, you leave your system open to attacks.
The silver lining for many organizations’ budgets is the hosting model. By outsourcing the hosting and support, you don’t have to take on the administrative expertise or hardware costs. Everything is provided and the migration is performed by certified specialists who can perform the update correctly the first time and help enhance your user adoption with the new version.
Other concerns: Some businesses don’t even know they are running Windows Server 2003. Your IT team or service provider should inform you of the outdated system and propose a plan to upgrade before it’s too late. Being caught unaware in this case could lead to severe problems in the long run.
Douglas Grosfield, President and CEO of Xylotek Solutions, another Microsoft partner, doesn’t hold back on the severity of the situation: “The risk of not patching vulnerabilities, it could put you out of business.” He goes on to describe the impact of data loss implying that 95% of businesses that experience a data loss will never open back up for business.
The bottom line: Windows Server 2003 has become a liability for your business. Consult with your IT division or your service provider to find the best way to move your systems off of this vulnerable software and keep your business protected.