Over 1.5 Million PCs in Hong Kong still at Risk with 90 Days Left Before Microsoft Ends Support for Windows XP

Time is running out for 16% of PCs in Hong Kong which Face Potential Security Risks and Productivity Downtime from 8 April 2014

Hong Kong – 7 January, 2014 – Microsoft today reminded business and consumers in Hong Kong with PCs still running Windows XP that it will officially retire service and support for Windows XP in three months’ time, on 8 April 2014. With just 90 days left to this crucial milestone, there are over 1.5 million PCs in Hong Kong, which are still running on Windows XP, a 12-year-old operating system no longer capable of handling sophisticated cyber-attacks and demands for more data privacy and productivity.

Windows XP was first released in 25 October2001. After 8 April 2014, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates, non-security related fixes, there won’t be a number to call for technical assistance, or online technical content updates for Windows XP. This means that users will no longer receive the updates that help protect PCs from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal or damage data and information. This may result in downtime and business disruption issues. Many software and hardware vendors will no longer support products that are running on Windows XP as they are unable to get the Windows XP and Office 2003 updates created to fix issues. Microsoft urged all business and consumers still using PCs running on Windows XP to upgrade to either Windows 7 or Windows 8.

StatCounter figures for December 2013 show that Windows XP accounts for more than 16% of PCs in Hong Kong. That’s still equivalent to over 1.5 million PCs. On the bright side, as of December 2013, consumers and businesses have been gradually upgrading to newer versions of the operating system, and around 56% of PCs are now on Windows 7 and 8 or above.

Alan Chan, National Technology Officer of Microsoft Hong Kong Limited said: “Clearly, there’s still a lack of urgency in some organizations in Hong Kong to make migration a priority. While no one likes change, consumers and businesses need to consider newer operating systems like Windows 7 or 8 in order to modernize their computing devices and to address sophisticated threats which can compromise the safety of their personal information. According to the findings of Microsoft’s Security Intelligence Report, Volume 14 [i], released in April 2013, Windows XP with SP3 is 56.5 times more vulnerable than Windows 8 RTM. This could result in additional costs associated with support and business continuity. With the typical deployment times for upgrades spanning from one to three months for small businesses, and more than three months for mid-sized businesses, we are really worried that these companies in Hong Kong are cutting it too close to the end of service date. We’re committed to helping Hong Kong upgrade.”

Industry expert have been advising businesses to move away from Windows XP over the past years. With 90 days to go before the end of service for Windows XP, IT expert is stepping up their education efforts to drive a greater sense of urgency.

“Windows XP has gone through stages of security enhancements, but it is not designed to handle the modern IT challenges of today, such as increasing exposure to sophisticated attacks and demands for more data privacy. Security landscape has changed significantly in the past decade, for instance, malware increased from 1,000 in 1991 to millions in 2012 and undetected malware has become cybercriminals’ tools,” says S.C. Leung, Senior Consultant of Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center (HKCERT). “Continued use of Windows XP poses additional threats. Unpatched vulnerabilities, less hardened operating system, less secure browser, less strong encryption, hashing, and signing provide greater opportunities for the attackers. In order to make sure that PCs continue to be securely supported and operational, both consumers and businesses alike should be migrating to supported and updated versions of the operating system now, given the termination of extended support for Windows XP in just 90 days’ time.”

“Our staff are regularly working away from the office; at home after hours and on week-ends as well as during business travels. To keep our business and client data secure while maintaining the accessibility of data in this remote working mode is critical to us. Warnings and alerts are readily and automatically available with the latest Windows, thus ensuring business continuity with minimal risks of data leakage. In addition, the Windows upgrade allows us to make the best use of our hardware capability and resources, bringing us significant improvement in productivity and performance. We encourage SMBs to have desktop replacement policy put in place as unsupported and unpatched environments are vulnerable to security risks which will cost much higher to remedy,” says S C Chan, Head of Customer Service & Information Technology of Alliance Construction Materials Limited.

Microsoft Ends Support for Windows XP
Microsoft Ends Support for Windows XP
(From left to right) S C Chan, Head of Customer Service & Information Technology of Alliance Construction Materials Limited, Alan Chan, National Technology Officer of Microsoft Hong Kong Limited, S.C. Leung, Senior Consultant of Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center (HKCERT)
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William To, Information Technology Manager of Heep Hong Society comments, “Considering Microsoft announcement of Windows XP End of Support starting from 8 April 2014, I believe there is no time like the present to upgrade Windows for the next 3 months as Windows XP won’t be viable much longer to support our operations. We need a modern security built in and so gives us comfort we are not left unprotected as we access many sensitive personal information every day. Windows XP Upgrade Donation Program allows our organization to benefit from the new features and benefits of Windows including secure mobile access from laptops and tablets, and decrease the exposure to cyber-attacks and demands for more data privacy.”

Customers can visit the Windows Upgrade Centre, which provide more details on Windows XP migration journey. SMBs can call Microsoft’s Special XP End of Support Hotline at 2388 9600 from now to end of April 2014 to help address customer issues during software upgrade like apps compatibility. Qualifying non-profits and non-governmental organizations are entitled to XP Free Upgrade Donation program. Interested parties can contact Hong Kong Council of Social Services at 2922 9259 for further information. For consumers, free Windows XP upgrade training is available at designated retail outlets of PCCW-HKT and Suning on every Saturday and Sunday from now until end of January 2014.

[i] Source: Microsoft’s Security Intelligence Report, Volume 14. Windows XP SP3 is 14 times more vulnerable than the 32-bit version of Windows 8 RTM and 56.5 times more vulnerable than the 64-bit version of Windows 8 RTM

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