Running a small and midsize business is fulfilling, exciting and awesome. It’s also occasionally exhausting and maddening. It’s easy to divert our attention to the little day-to-day crises, to put out those daily “fires.” There’s one elephant in the room which so many of us ignore, or procrastinate with. It doesn’t command our attention until something goes wrong. But the cost of ignoring this elephant can be catastrophic.
According to a survey by Alert Logic, 66% of devices in SMB’s are using expired or about-to-expire Microsoft OS versions. The findings underscore an alarming dependence on antiquated Microsoft operating systems and outdated servers. Most devices scanned by Alert Logic for their study are running versions of Windows that are more than a decade old!
Look in your server room or around the office. Are there Windows XP or 7 workstations? Microsoft won’t be supporting 7 starting next year, and XP support is already gone. Do you have an Exchange 2000 email server? How about Windows Server 2008 or Windows NT? Support will be ending for a lot of these old products, and if you’re not ready, these could be tough distractions to deal with.
Here are three takeaways from the report, and what could happen to you if you don’t make a fix.
1. 75% of missing patches are more than one year old.
How regularly do you update your systems? Some do it all the time, but many don’t do it nearly often enough. If you’re using an “unpatched” system and support stops, you will not be able to get new updates, and you’re going to be very vulnerable to an attack, which means your data could be taken from you, or kidnapped using ransomware. Imagine not being able to access work records, payroll, or anything, until you pay the ransom…
2. 42% of the top security issues for SMBs are related to misconfigured encryption.
Automated patching helps, but if your data and system are not set up properly, you’ve practically opened the door for a hacker (or an unethical competitor!) to get inside and do their evil, causing you to scramble to stop the intrusion or even lose your data. This is the equivalent to having the front door of your house locked but the slider in the back unlocked.
3. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) servers are still in wide use.
This is a nearly 50 year-old technology, and many businesses still have these servers connected to those seemingly harmless devices like cameras, printers and uninterruptible power supplies. Yes, a hacker can dive into your system through a printer. They love distributing malware this way.
This is the stuff of nightmares. Wishing it were not so is not a strong play. Your budget is not infinite. Your margins may be razor-thin. We get it. This does not have to be a million dollar fix, however. It might not cost you much at all to do some simple patching, buffing and polishing. The cost of ignoring the issue can mean disaster, so consider spending some time reviewing what assets you have and asking some smart people advice on how to proceed.
Read the full report here.
Technology is designed to help you run your business better. It’s a great idea to make sure it’s doing all it can for you.