Could Old Computers Make You a Target for Hackers?

Could old computers make you a target for hackers?

All businesses need to take their IT seriously, but how seriously might just depend on what sector they are in, research has shown.

Finance, for example, is very hot on computer and network security because it’s dealing with that commodity every criminal wants to get their hands on first and foremost: our money. That makes banks and other institutions number one targets!

Huge sums are spent on high tech hardware and smart people to keep our bank accounts, investments, insurance details and pensions safe and the big operators are generally pretty good at it.

But not all business types see themselves as being at high risk. This can lead to a more laid back approach to having the latest and best systems and not staying current on the always emerging risks to their hardware and software.

A recent study by a security company found that among its clients there was a clear distinction between financial sector customers and those in health care provision.

The finance types had a much higher use of the latest version of Microsoft Windows, Windows 10, and had done more work to weed out ageing software that didn’t serve much purpose other than to now be a security risk.

By contrast, the health sector was running plenty of copies of Windows XP, which stopped being supported by Microsoft in 2014. If an operating system is no longer supported, there are no patches and fixes provided by the developer to close the security holes that hackers keep on looking for. The decision to upgrade is not always straightforward but there comes a point where it is inevitable!

It’s so easy to think that data criminals are not interested in what you have in your systems (especially if it’s not money) but health data is a growing area of interest for them. It can be the key to stealing someone’s identity, useful information through which to defraud or even as a means to blackmail them.

There is growing evidence that healthcare as a sector is being more actively targeted by online criminals because they have come to understand that it can sometimes be less well defended, but no less rich pickings.

You can extend the example to many quarters. You could run a plant nursery and have wholesale customers with accounts whose detail you keep on an old Windows XP machine. That could be a simple cyber smash and grab for a criminal. The supposed anonymity of not being a recognisable brand is not your friend either, by the way, because they automate the probing for weak spots on the internet through which to attack. You don’t have to be actively on anyone’s radar.

The point here, of course, is that no-one should feel complacent about their IT just because they assume they are not a target and that some sectors are more likely to feel that complacency (or at least not be paying attention) than others.

We’re pleased to note that we have clients in the health care sector who are wide awake to the importance of the tightest security protocols for the their data and we work with them to ensure it’s all locked down through best practice and the most appropriate hardware, software and staff awareness.

If those tired looking Windows computers your staff have been keeping going for the last five years suddenly seem like less of a good idea, feel free to give us a call, because we can advise on and supply the right IT for the job and make sure its secure, whether you’re servicing boilers, selling flowers or building engines for a living!