Clinging to the Windows 7 Ledge: Are You Ready to Make the Leap to Windows 10?

Business is all about balancing risk and opportunity. Nowhere, perhaps, is this clearer than in the IT department, where the daily onslaught of cyberhazards are stared down while keeping an eye on the innovation prize. As the risk of Windows 7 end of life looms bigger on the horizon, and new vulnerabilities are announced, now is the time to plan your move to Windows 10.

The Vulnerability

In a blog I wrote back in December, I discussed the potential security threats facing organisations that haven’t upgraded to Windows 10. In the past few weeks these fears have been confirmed and our warnings validated. Recently, Google’s Threat Analysis Group revealed an exposure has emerged that exploits a patched Chrome vulnerability, in conjunction with an unpatched Windows 7 vulnerability. Attackers have already been observed taking advantage of this issue, but it is likely that the worst is still in store for those who fail to update before the Windows 7 end of life, scheduled for January 14, 2020.

With less than ten months to switch to Windows 10 safely, Microsoft will shortly begin notifying users of Windows 7 to alert them. Organisations with many affected users still running Windows 7 may find their helpdesk swamped with calls, and the IT team may find it hard to linger long at the coffee machine without being quizzed by worried workmates.

The Windows 7 Risk

Bad actors will be busy preparing to exploit the vulnerabilities exposed by Google and Microsoft soon after the January 2020 end of life. While attack methods and types will vary, the WannaCry ransomware attack that shook the world in May 2017 gives a glimpse into the broad range of targets. From cancelled surgeries, to halted transport networks, the impact was massive. It illustrated clearly that no business should expect to fly below the radar of cybercrime organisations.

Cyberattacks are costly in many ways, with the average hit set at $4 million1. The direct cost of reduced revenue experienced by almost 30% of organisations2 is commonly outweighed by reputation damage. With the introduction of mandatory breach reporting laws in Australia and many other countries, there is absolutely no chance of keeping data breaches quiet. While a well-managed response can help minimise damage, customer trust is inevitably affected, especially when the breach was ultimately avoidable.

Planning Your Windows 7 End of Life Response

We’ve been talking to customers a lot about the impending end of life, of not only Windows 7, but Office 2010, Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 which are all reaching end of support. We’re seeing a mix of responses at the moment; majority of organisations are well into their migration process, while others are yet to appreciate the urgency and are squeezing every last drop out of Windows 7. The latter is a high-risk approach that places critical business systems and customer data at risk. Well-planned migrations clearly don’t happen overnight, and the clock is ticking.

We’re also seeing a third group of customers, organisations planning to purchase the three-year extended support option. The obvious thing to point out here is the cost, put simply it’s going to be expensive, a per device cost that will increase every year. Supporting dated software doesn’t come cheap, so if this is the route you’re planning to take, understand that you are investing in a platform without a future. The opportunity cost, though, may be greater than even that hefty financial hit. Working with dated technology isn’t great for staff morale and recruitment, and it doesn’t exactly create a great impression with customers. If the transition feels daunting, help is at hand.

The Windows 10 Opportunity

The first thing you need to know about Windows 10 is that it is the most secure Windows ever, employing advanced security measures to minimise threats to your business. Microsoft has integrated Windows Defender ATP, which contributes to a 40% reduction in the risk of data breach3. The newly added security features also caught 1.7 times as many threats as other endpoint detection and response tools3. If you want to get really futuristic, there is even the option of using Windows Hello facial recognition tools – wow factor aside, this can have some exceptional practical applications.

It would be wrong to make out this upgrade is only about security, though. There is the reduction in IT effort, with incremental upgrades taking place instead of the traditional upgrade cycle, making it the last time that disruptive Windows deployment projects are needed. Better yet, Windows 10 with Office 365 makes for an exceptional end user environment that prioritises teamwork, collaboration and mobility. Staff can stay connected wherever they are, working on shared projects from anywhere, in real time. In the modern, cloud-driven world, Windows 10 is a business essential.

Waiting and trying to extract maximum value from your existing Windows 7 investment is a lost opportunity, hampering users and holding back collaboration efforts. The sooner migration is planned, the safer your business and its customers, and the better equipped you are for the future. When it comes to risk/opportunity balance, the evidence is firmly on the side of Windows 10.

Time to learn more about what Windows 10 has to offer your organisation, and the migration options available to you? Contact our friendly Windows migration experts today or take a look at the below options.

Choose your migration journey with Data#3

As Australia’s largest Microsoft partner, Data#3 is uniquely positioned to support your organisation’s transition to the most secure, productive Windows ever. We offer a variety of migration paths to suit your organisations needs.

1. Book a Modern Desktop Assessment
To get started, we recommend you get assessed by our specialists to understand your readiness, the migration path and how your organisation can benefit from a modern desktop.

2. Modern Desktop Proof of Concept
Once we have a solid baseline of your current environment, we can work with you to experience Windows 10 for yourself with our 5-day Proof of Concept program – take the opportunity to attend a series of technical briefs and hands-on labs.

3. Modern Desktop Pilot
If you are ready to migrate to Windows 10, the Pilot Program is an ideal first step. Over ten weeks, our Microsoft specialists will guide you through the processes involved in planning, designing, deploying and managing Windows 10.

4. FastTrack Ready
Need Windows 10 quick? FastTrack will help your organisation accelerate deployment and gain end-user adoption of Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security as soon as possible.

Need to move off Windows or SQL Server 2008?

Ask about our Workload Transition Offer.
If you are still running Windows and/or SQL Server infrastructure, this assessment will determine the magnitude of the end of support issue within your environment. As part of the engagement, Data#3 will transition ten virtual machines to Microsoft Azure (AU Central Regions for Federal Customers), allowing you to trial Azure and test performance with your own workloads. These can be non-production machines. After the assessment engagement, Data#3 would be more than happy to support a wider workload project to move the remaining affected workloads to Azure.

1. Ponemon Institute (2016). Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis. [Online] Available at: https://www.ponemon.org/news-2/71
2. Cisco (2018). Annual Cybersecurity Report. [Online] Available at: https://www.cisco.com/c/m/en_au/products/security/offers/annual-cybersecurity-report-2017.html
3. Forrester Consulting (July,2017). The Total Economic Impact Of Microsoft Windows Defender Advanced. [Online] Threat Available at: https://info.microsoft.com/WNDWS-Forrester-TEI-Registration.html

Tags: Malware, Microsoft, Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Microsoft Windows 10, Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Windows Server 2008, Ransomware, Security



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