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As MS Updates End, How Should You Prepare?

Posted April 29, 2010    Morey Haber

Another deadline in operating system maintenance has been set by Microsoft, which has indicated this month it will no longer support the following as of July 13, 2010:

·   Windows XP SP2; users should upgrade to Service Pack 3 or Windows 7

·  Extended support for Windows 2000 will terminate. MS will no longer provide ANY updates for Windows 2000.

·  Windows Vista RTM will no longer be supported. Microsoft recommends upgrading to SP 2 or Windows 7 since SP1 will be EOL July 12, 2011.

For most users, their first thought is so what? They install the latest service packs and have no servers running anything older than Windows 2003 Server.

For other users, this day opens a Pandora’s box for vulnerabilities. First, ask yourself how many Windows 2000 Workstations and Servers you have deployed in your environment? A vulnerability assessment solution can help identify all of them. I know for certain there are plenty of clients I speak to who still use these older assets.

Next, ask yourself how you are going to mitigate risks on those assets when Microsoft no longer will supply ANY updates including Security Patches? If these devices are in production and impact regulatory compliance initiatives or security best practices, they will require some form of mitigation in order to manage the risk. Endpoint Protection Products (EPP) can provide a solution for managing these vulnerabilities because:

1. They provide zero day vulnerability protection

2. They can provide protection when no patch is available; especially when the operating system has been deemed end of life

3. They can provide local vulnerability assessment to identify any risks that need mitigation in order to stay compliant

While an EPP solution is not the magic bullet for these aging devices; it does provide a vehicle to properly phase out and migrate away from these legacy solutions.  If you have Windows 2000 devices in your environment, I recommend:

·   Identifying all Windows 2000 devices in your environment

·   Providing a vehicle to mitigate vulnerabilities once Microsoft ends support in July

·  Developing a plan to phase out and replace all of these devices in a timely fashion.

·  If the asset cannot be replaced, consider virtualization or additional layers of protection to keep this device isolated due to its age and lack of maintenance.

July 13, 2010 is coming upon up fast and a whole class of operating system with paid extended support is about to become much more of a liability for many organizations.

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