This post is part of a series contributed by the ISO’s 2019-2020 student intern Emily Connolly, ’20.
On January 14th, 2020, Microsoft support for Windows 7 will end, which means that version of Windows will no longer receive patches to fix bugs or security flaws.
Why is this happening?
End of life is the term used by Microsoft when they no longer support a system or service, often because it has become outdated. With the arrival of Windows 10, Microsoft began phasing out mainstream support for Windows 7 in January of 2015.
How does this affect me?
Failing to update to Windows 10 and continuing to run Windows 7 can leave users vulnerable to cyberthreats. With no more patches or updates to fix bugs and vulnerabilities, hackers can exploit these security flaws. Even if Microsoft or its users discover additional security flaws in Windows 7 after January 14th, it is likely that they will not be patched. Some attackers even be sitting on zero-days, a security flaw that is known with no patch, and waiting for the system end-of-life to exploit this vulnerability.
Updating your machines to Windows 10 will mitigate this risk.
How do I know which version of Windows I’m running?
By searching for “system information” in your start menu, you will be directed to a window with information on your system, including what version of Windows you’re running under “OS Name.”
What should I do now?
If you haven’t yet updated to Windows 10, it is important to do that in the coming weeks before the Windows 7 end of life. Encourage your friends, classmates, and your co-workers to do the same. If you are unable to upgrade, keep a close eye on your machine for unusual behavior in the weeks following the Windows 7 end-of-life and keep your anti-virus and security software up to date.