May/June 2020

Product Watch

Using End-of-Life Software Could Make Your Computer Sick

Daniel J. Siegel

Imagine preparing a meal using milk and other food after the “use by” date on their packages. Or, imagine using medicine months beyond the “discard after” date printed on the label. You wouldn’t do it because you might contract E. coli, listeria or salmonella. If the expired medication did not work as intended, not only could your medical condition fail to improve, but it could get worse.

So why do computer users often use software that is no longer supported by its developer? That means that the developer is no longer proactively protecting users from security risks, such as viruses, malware and ransomware. In other words, using unsupported software, often called “end-of-life” (EOL) software, may expose your computer and others on the same network to risks that could easily spread to other computers.

Thus, instead of reviewing the latest and the greatest, I am devoting this column to explaining why users must stop using old and moldy software. Consider Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. When Microsoft stopped issuing updates and patches, devices with these operating systems became significantly more exposed to security threats.

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