Let go of Windows 7 now!
Earlier this year, Microsoft ended its life support for Windows 7 and stopped providing technical assistance and software updates for the now obsolete operating system.
But for some odd reason, a significant number of devices are still running the Windows Vista successor, and the FBI is stepping in to encourage upgrade-shy users to ditch Windows 7, according to ZDNet.
FBI warns the masses that Windows 7 is not safe
When Microsoft announced Windows 7’s end-of-life stage in January, 26% of devices were running Windows 7. It’s now been seven months since the tech giant declared its end of support for Windows 7, but usage rates dropped by only 2%, according to NetMarketShare.
Well aware of the security risks involved with Windows 7, the FBI stepped in to warn the users about the operating system’s high cyberattack vulnerability.
“Continuing to use Windows 7 within an enterprise may provide cyber criminals access in to computer systems. As time passes, Windows 7 becomes more vulnerable to exploitation due to lack of security updates and new vulnerabilities discovered,” the agency said.
The federal agency explained that most customers are unable to maintain an unsupported Windows 7 operating system, and as a result, more cybercriminals will perceive Windows 7 users as the perfect target for malicious hacking.
How Windows 7’s security flaws are being exploited by cybercriminals
The FBI illustrated how cybercriminals can exploit Windows 7’s security vulnerabilities by pointing out hacking tools such as EternalBlue, a technique that exploits a security flaw in Windows 7’s Server Message Block.
The FBI also mentioned BlueKeep, which gives cybercriminals the opportunity to hack into Windows 7 devices using a security vulnerability found in Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol.
To date, Microsoft allows Windows 7 users to upgrade their systems to Windows 10 for free, so what’s the hold up?
Some customers, the FBI noted, may be hesitant to upgrade because their dated hardware cannot support it and the cost of purchasing a new device may intimidate Windows 7 users, but the FBI explained that the cost of a cybercriminal attack is far more expensive.
In addition to upgrading to Windows 10, the FBI is urging Microsoft consumers to equip their systems with anti-virus software, spam filters and up-to-date firewall protection.
The FBI knows first hand about the sneaky tactics of cybercriminals, so if I were a Windows 7 user, I’d heed the federal agency’s advice.
However, the parapets and maintain Windows 10is a much more secure OS than Windows 7, simply because those security updates and ongoing developments have ceased. Windows 10 gets Microsoft resources invested into game-changing hacker protections and ongoing security research. If it is at all possible to upgrade, if all that is holding you back is your own liking for what you are used to rather than a hardware issue, just do it. And do it now.
How to upgrade to Windows 10 for free
It’s not as if the upgrade cost, at least when moving away from the enterprise and into consumer territory, should be a factor. Despite officially ending four years ago now, the upgrade to Windows 10 for a free offer from Microsoft appears to still work if you have a genuine licensed copy of Windows 7. Of course, I cannot guarantee this will work for everyone as there do seem to be some stumbling blocks occasionally, and at some point, one assumes the ability will stop, so you do this at your own risk. However, recent reports suggest that by going to the Microsoft Windows 10 download page and doing just that, it’s possible to get the upgrade for free with that legit existing Windows 7 key. After downloading, when running the Media Creation Tool, select the ‘upgrade’ option and follow the prompts. As long as your Windows 7 product key was a genuine one, and associated with the machine you are upgrading, you shouldn’t need to enter any key during the process. Making a backup before attempting the upgrade would be advised, as with any such operating system upgrade. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.