Sunday, August 24, 2014

7 Tips to Cut Security Risks for Your Windows XP System

Microsoft had warned that is would stop offering security patches and 

technical support for its Windows XP version of OS from April 8, 2014. The D-

day has passed and all XP users, still in large numbers, are now at the mercy 

of hackers and virus/malware spreading entities. However, on the brighter 

side Microsoft has done a couple of good things before pulling down the 


Offered one last security fix/patch on the same day.

It has promised to keep all security fixes and technical content readily 

available on its servers for existing users who may need them in the coming 


This simply means Windows XP can still be installed and activated post April 

8th, 2014.

It is not just the end user who will face the wrath of cyber criminals and 

insane geeks. Companies who guarantee protection from cyber miscreants for 

its XP based programs and services will face a lot of flak and maybe 

litigations as they will not be able to fulfil this vital clause. Yet another 

major effect of this pullout will be the lack of supporting drivers for existing 

and forthcoming devices. In simple words, newer products will not work with 

Windows XP. In such a scenario the only option is to migrate to Windows 7 or 

8 which typically offers better security features, wider device compatibility 

and enhanced productivity through its intuitive GUI and applications.

Does it mean you cannot use Windows XP at all? No, there is no reason to 

panic as of now. Follow the below mentioned tips to cut down security risks 

and continue to enjoy your favourite OS.

1. Install latest security patches and backup for future

Make sure you apply all of the latest patches in order to make your operating 

system as secure as possible. Secondly, if you do not intend to divorce 

Windows XP for whatever reason it is better that that you create a custom XP 

disc with SP3 and other updates readily available. The reason; Microsoft will 

pull back all the support including downloadable security patches and drivers 

one day. If that happens, your OS will turn into a playground for cyber 


2. Choose your software wisely, especially browser

Majority of the viruses and malware find their way through internet and 

internet downloaded files and applications. However, unsecure browsers also 

pose a threat to operating systems. Browser plug-ins is one area which is 

exploited by all and sundry. It allows hackers and cyber thieves to manipulate 

several OS functions, thereby making the computing environment vulnerable 

on several fronts. Older version of Internet Explorer, typically bundled with XP 

will no longer be provided with security patches. The same applies to other 

browsers such as obsolete Mozilla Firefox flavors. In such a scenario it is 

better to install Google Chrome which is comparatively secure and continues 

to offer support for XP users.

3. Email client and Desktop Manager

Microsoft has also announced its desire to stop non-security fixes, free or 

paid support and security patches for Microsoft Office 2003. It simply means 

Microsoft Outlook will no longer be safe anymore as any future loopholes will 

make it a perfect target for cyber bandits and companies offering badly coded 

applications with inherent security issues. The best way to make sure your 

OS secure is to switch over to free or paid email client, task manager and 

calendar applications. Any compromise here would simply translate into 


4. Robust Anti-virus

Microsoft’s native security software “Security Essentials” has always been 

under flak for inefficient and insufficient features. Even though Microsoft has 

promised to keep on upgrading and patching this security software as and 

when it finds a loophole, it is better that you install a powerful, dedicated 

anti-virus program. It has become all the more important now because the 

watch dog, Microsoft, will no longer guard the gates to your computer system.

5. Device drivers

Device drivers are an integral part of any OS. Unfortunately, they are also 

vulnerable to security threats and malicious software which can simply hijack 

your personal information. It is therefore important to keep them updated 

regularly. Use free or paid tools to update and upgrade these essential files 

so that your OS is sanitized. Remember, you now own an OS which has no 

Godfather or a caretaker. Apart from device drivers make sure you keep your 

other software updated all the times.

6. Login as normal user and not administrator

Another way to secure your Windows XP environment is to use non-

administrative account. It simply means limiting yourself and your computer 

to basic functionality. Because normal users cannot add or delete programs or 

download files without administrative password you can enhance the security 

of your OS and thereby your computer system. It simply means no spyware 

and other malicious software creeping in unknowingly and stealing precious 

personal and business information. To run administrator chores simply 

disconnect from the internet.

7. Switch Operating System

Now, this may seem quite intimidating but several flavors of Linux such as 

Ubuntu and Puppy Linux have proven their mettle on the OS front. These 

Linux versions are stable, fast, secure and compatible with most of the 

commercial software/applications. To add icing to the cake most of Linux 

flavors are free to download and use. There is no limit to the number of users 

as well.


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