Microsoft Corporation is no longer providing support for Windows XP, and Better Business Bureau is warning consumers and businesses that they need to take immediate steps to secure their computers and data.
Starting April 8, 2014, the company will not provide technical support or security updates for the 12-year-old XP operating system, or for its Office 2003 software suite (which includes Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.). This means users will become more vulnerable to computer viruses and malware. Some security experts have speculated that scammers are waiting to launch XP attacks after support ends, so there may be an increase in malware activity in the coming weeks and months.
Better Business Bureau is offering consumers and businesses the following tips:
Determine whether or not your computer operating system can be upgraded. Microsoft offers extensive information and the Windows Upgrade Assistant on its website at www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/enterprise/end-of-support.aspx.
Older computers likely will not be able to run Windows 8, the latest version of the operating system. You may want to look at upgrading to an earlier version such as Windows 7, which is still be supported by the company.
If you can't update your operating system at all, you should think about replacing your computer. It would be a good idea to disconnect your computer from the Internet so that you are not vulnerable to malware.
Back up all files, documents, photos, etc. onto an external drive, flash drive or a cloud storage site prior to upgrading your operating system or migrating your files to a new computer.
After April 8, if you are still on Windows XP, do not click on any links or pop-ups on your computer that claim to be from Microsoft support; they may be from scammers. Go directly to Microsoft's website for information on how to upgrade your system.
BBB offers businesses its free Data Security -- Made Simpler, a step-by-step manual to help businesses take proactive steps to secure their data and strengthen trust with their customers. "Safeguard privacy," including protecting customer data, is one of the eight BBB Standards for Trust that accredited businesses must pledge to uphold.