If you’re still a Windows XP user, you’re probably singing a sad song knowing that after 12 long years Microsoft will end its support for the world’s second most popular operating system today.
Microsoft warns you that if you continue to use its OS first introduced before the iPhone even existed “your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.” And if that isn’t enough to encourage you to upgrade or get a computer, maybe the fact that “you can expect to encounter greater numbers of apps and devices that do not work with Windows XP” will.
But given the millions of PCs running the OS and the scarce amount of time and resources many people have, some people will certainly be XP users well after its “expiration date.” If you’re going to be one of these daredevils, F-Secure’s Security Advisor Sean Sullivan has some suggestions.
“Folks that continue to use XP at home can do so with some reasonable amount of safety, but they absolutely need to review their Internet and computing habits as April draws near,” he told us. And he broke down 7 ways to avoid the trouble from the criminals who will surely be targeting these unsupported systems.
1) Continue to patch XP up to its final update cycle.
2) Install an alternative browser — not Internet Explorer.
3) Make sure Microsoft Office is fully patched if it is installed. Note, some older versions of Office will run things such as Flash by default if embedded in documents. If using an older version of Office, tighten up the security options.
4) Review the third-party software you’ve installed and uninstall anything that isn’t needed.
5) For the third-party software that you keep – consider disabling or uninstalling the browser plugins. Or at least set the browser to “always ask” what to do about things such as PDF files. (Personally, I always download PDFs to my desktop and open them from there. I don’t want the PDF viewer plugin installed, and I don’t like being in the habit of opening certain file types in my browser’s window.)
6) Have an up-to-date security product with antivirus and firewall installed (editor’s note: TDS recommends TDS Internet Security so your computer will always have the latest protection).
7) Keep your XP computer connected to a NAT router, which will act as a hardware firewall. (Practically speaking, this means you shouldn’t be roaming around outside of your home with an XP computer. Don’t plug into a university network for connectivity – keep your computer at home on a trusted network.)
As you can see, living in the past may not make life easy. But if it’s your only option, you should at least try to stay as safe as possible.
Guest Blogger: F-Secure
We write about our real-life experiences and try to give you helpful tips on security issues whether it be safe online shopping, ensuring that you don’t lose precious digital photos or making sure your kids don’t get exposed to inappropriate content. We are F-Secure, a company with over 20 years experience in Internet security. Visit F-Secure’s Safe & Savvy blog.