Writer’s Note:  This week’s writing is being put into all my blogs as I feel it is important enough to be posted for all to read.  Hopefully, you all agree with that.

 

We all survived the Y2K problem or so we hoped.

 

However, next week on April 8th, a new threat is going to happen.

 

The threat is the end of support for Windows XP.

 

Now some of you are probably thinking that you haven’t used this operating system for years, but many of the things that we come in contact with everyday does.

 

If you go to your favorite store, chances are that their register system uses some form of it.

 

If you use an ATM, it probably has it as well.

 

If you go to a doctor, he/she probably uses it to keep track of your medical records or look up other information.

 

In other words, at some point, you will come in contact with a machine running WinXP.

 

So why is all this important?

 

The hackers are lining up to attack these systems because Microsoft is no longer releasing monthly security patches to this operating system.  Nobody is safe.

 

Let me repeat that:  NOBODY IS SAFE!

 

Of course, Microsoft offers solutions to the problem.  You can upgrade your system to either Windows 7 or 8.  That is if your system can handle it.

 

Case in point:  I have a Windows XP machine that I use all the time which is hooked up to my network.  However, my machine doesn’t anywhere near meet the system requirements of either Win 7 or 8.  Of course, I have no intention on dumping my perfectly good machine just because Microsoft is ending its love for it.

 

Another alternative I have read is to install a form of Linux on the machine.  If I don’t want any of my existing software to work again, this is a great suggestion.  I would do this as much as I would perform open heart surgery on myself.

 

Finally, one could go out and buy themselves a new computer.  This is almost as bad the previous suggestion as many older programs would not work under the new operating systems.  I know this for a fact as I try to use some of my older programs on Win7 machine.  No gratification for the amount of frustration, it is to port an older program to a newer OS.

 

So what about everyone else doing one of the things listed above to save themselves and others?

 

I don’t expect it to happen as any of these options would take years to implement.  Yes, I said “years” as upgrading is not an option in most cases.

 

The biggest threat in all this is the protection of personal information.  Any information that you give to anybody and they input into a computer is not safe whatsoever.

 

I know from firsthand experience that companies store your private information together.  In other words, if you write a check at your local store and give them a driver’s license for it, the information about your check and driver’s license are stored on the store’s computers together.  This is the perfect way of storage for a hacker to grab your identity.

 

As a victim of identity theft myself, I can attest to the fact that a company can and will let any information about you become freely available if they want.

 

And many of these companies will comply to hackers because they use outdated operating systems and unsecure connections.

 

So how can one save themselves from this nightmare?

 

Most importantly is to question why identification is needed for any reason like a return or a purchase.  I recommend refusing giving this information out because most of the time it is not needed.  If a person is determined for identification, ask them the following questions:

  • How long is my information stored?  Honestly, the answer should be “not at all”, but they would be lying if they said otherwise.
  • Is my information encrypted?  Again, they will lie and tell you it is, when most information is hardly ever encrypted.
  • What information do you take from me?  If they can’t detail what they take, just say no.

 

Overall, the end of Windows XP is less than a week away and nobody is safe.

 

Nobody at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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