More and more banks are saying goodbye to Internet Explorer 8  running on Windows XP. Banks like Charlotte State Bank & Trust have issued warnings to customers saying users must switch to Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox in order to continue online banking.

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Adirondack Bank posted a list of certified Operating Systems including Windows 7, 8 & 8.1. The bank also supports Vista and Mac OS 10.7, 10.8 & 10.9 . Windows XP and Mac OS 10.6 are not supported.  Certified browsers are IE 9, 10 & 11 32 bit, with IE 9, 10 & 11 64 bit and the current versions of Chrome & Firefox listed as supported.

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Microsoft ended security support for XP last April, so even with the switch to Chrome or Firefox, banking on an XP computer is risky. Hackers know the OS is unprotected and more threats to XP are discovered all the time.

According to security experts Kaspersky, unpatched flaws for the 14-year-old system are growing every month. Businesses like banks are the most likely victims of these attacks, but no one running XP is safe. Kaspersky points out that XP systems have “frail security” and are “incredibly vulnerable.”

Many businesses dragged their feet on updating and securing their systems. Many hospital and doctor’s offices are running on outdated XP machines leaving your payment information, SSN, name, address, family history and medical records vulnerable to hackers. That kind of information is an identify thief’s dream. Not only do they have enough information to successfully impersonate you, they also have the kind of vital details that make it easier to guess passwords.

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Anchorage Community Mental Health Services was fined $150,000 for a data breach by the government. In that settlement, the Office for Civil Rights said that the clinic violated HIPAA regulations by not implementing a secure operating system. HIPPA regulations require medical providers to implement current security patches on systems and there are no security patches to apply to XP systems.

Despite having several years advance warning that security support was ending, many businesses put off the switch because of cost or because software they were running would only work with XP.  Patching vulnerabilities on a system requires a knowledge of that operating system at the most basic level. Only Microsoft has that access and knowledge. They have security experts working all the time to fix flaws in the operating systems they support and they share those patches with third-party security companies like Kaspersky and Norton. But without the access that Microsoft has to XP at the most basic level, it’s impossible for any third-party company to permanently patch security flaws in XP.

Why did Microsoft end security support for XP? Continually patching a 14-year-old operating system isn’t going to generate any new revenue for your business, but most importantly, a system that old cannot stand up to attacks from today’s hackers. Most of the vulnerabilities the company had to find patches for were in XP. While it was a fairly secure system when it was released, it had turned into vulnerable one after 14 years.

While some home users may be willing to stick with XP and risk a data breach or virus, businesses are taking notice of the very real threats to their data and their wallets and, in some cases, using XP may be against the law.

~ Cynthia