Now that Microsoft support for Windows 7 has ended, a reader has a question:

“Does it mean that my Norton anti-virus program won’t be able to protect my PC anymore?”

I’ll answer with “no” and then I’ll explain a bit. Your Norton antivirus won’t suddenly stop working. And it will be able to offer protection against threats that are already known and that Microsoft has provided fixes for in the past. It will not be able to protect you against any new threats or if those old viruses are altered to take advantage of lack of security support for Windows 7.

Third-party security companies depend on patches from Microsoft to fix vulnerabilities in Windows. There are things about the inner-workings of Windows that Microsoft does not share with anyone. Things about the code that you need to know to create a patch for a security vulnerability. Without that information, no third-party security company can protect your PC.

Now that hackers know that Windows 7 is unprotected, they’ll start to target it. In fact, when Microsoft issues security patches for Windows 10, these crooks can backward engineer those patches to find previously unknown vulnerabilities in Windows 7 and launch attacks. So, there’s really no way to safely use Windows 7 online, even with third-party security protection.