SMALLER Scottish firms are being urged to prepare for what some IT experts are describing as “the biggest security threat of 2015”.
With less than four weeks to go until Microsoft calls time on Windows Server 2003, millions of companies have yet to upgrade. Many will miss the deadline of 14 July when Microsoft cuts off support for the server, leaving users vulnerable to any new hacks or weaknesses.
‘The dangers this time are “much worse”’
Martin Brown, the Scottish head of IT multinational EMC, said that upgrading systems is an issue that people “all too often” put off until it is too late.
“It’s no different to letting the car or home insurance slide,” he said. “Introducing risk into a business isn’t going to make you popular.”
As was the case when Microsoft ended its support for Windows XP in April 2014, cost-conscious SMEs are among those least likely to take action. Despite the risks, many today are still running on XP, though with increasing difficulty.
Steve Ross, managing director of Dundee support company Shackleton Technologies, said the dangers this time around are “much worse”.
Windows Server systems are at the heart of critical functions such as accounting, finance and manufacturing. As last year’s attack on Sony Pictures has shown, this sensitive data does not sit in isolation – a particular concern for those in regulated industries such as finance or pharmaceuticals.
At the same time, the software and underlying hardware in Windows Server 2003 were not designed to deal with today’s demands for mobility and cloud access, while newer software has a higher risk of incompatibility with outdated systems.
Ross said: “I have seen plenty of otherwise healthy businesses fall behind industry standards and run up huge costs in the long run as small problems snowball into devastating ones.”