Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

March 24, 2014

Water Systems Using Windows XP, Office 2003 Should Upgrade Software to Avoid Potential Risk

All water systems should take action, as appropriate, to upgrade their software programs and avoid the risk of compromise through use of outdated, unsupported products. Microsoft is ending support for the Windows XP operating system and Office 2003 product line on April 8, 2014. After this date, these products will no longer receive: Security patches which help protect PCs from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software; Assisted technical support from Microsoft; or Software and content updates.

Description: All software products have a lifecycle. End of support refers to the date when Microsoft no longer provides automatic fixes, updates, or online technical assistance. As of February 2014, nearly 30 percent of Internet connected PCs still run Windows XP.

Impact: Computer systems running unsupported software are exposed to an elevated risk to cybersecurity dangers, such as malicious attacks or electronic data loss. Users may also encounter problems with software and hardware compatibility since new software applications and hardware devices may not be built for Windows XP or Office 2003

Solution: Computers operating Windows XP with SP3 or running Office 2003 products will continue to work after support ends. However, using unsupported software may increase the risk of viruses and other security threats. Users have the option to upgrade to a currently supported operating system or office productivity suite. The Microsoft “End of Support” pages for Windows XP and Office 2003 offer additional details. There are software vendors and service providers in the marketplace who offer assistance in migrating from Windows XP or Office 2003 to a currently supported operating system or office productivity suite. US-CERT does not endorse or support any particular product or vendor.

Again, we encourage all water systems to make sure they have installed an appropriate operating system that is protected adequately from viruses and capable of receiving needed technical support.

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