Three reasons why your business must upgrade operating systems
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a common phrase, but it doesn’t apply in the world of IT. When it comes to critical business computing, a more accurate phrase would be “if it ain’t supported, fix it”.
Those who leave systems unsupported are at greater risk of a malware attack, data loss, unplanned downtime and/or data breaches. Businesses have come crashing down due to hubristic confidence in servers that lacked a support plan.
Here we outline three reasons why a server upgrade in your hardware estate is a high priority.
As any operating system ages, the number of vulnerabilities will continue to grow, but the support will continue to shrink until there is no official support remaining.
Nothing highlights the risk of unsupported operating systems and poor patching schedules like the WannaCry attack which crippled the NHS in May 2017. Evidence has shown that the vulnerability this ransomware exploited, was patched by Microsoft in March of that year.
Efforts from the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office to migrate from old operating systems such as Windows XP were made, but had fallen on deaf ears as hundreds, thousands or possibly tens of thousands of endpoints remained on outdated and unsupported platforms. Systems running the latest operating system - Windows 10 - were unaffected by the cyberattack, as were users who have installed Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-010 as part of Windows Updates.
Windows Server 2008 is the 7th highest operating system on the Top 50 Products by Total Number of Distinct Vulnerabilities, as of December 2018, with over 1100 individual vulnerabilities. Windows 7 is right behind at 8th place in the operating system chart, but both ranked below Ubuntu, Debian and Kernel Linux, as well as Mac OS X.
This data shows that Windows platforms are still some of the best systems available on the market by comparison, but all systems have massive amounts of vulnerabilities that will continue to appear and whilst in support, be patched.
End of life
Microsoft will be officially ending its support for Windows Server 2008 (including R2) on January 14th 2020. The plan was for Windows Server 2008 support to end in 2015. However, due to popular demand, the latest edition had its support extended by five years, and now those we’re just a year away from this OS going out of support.
Of course, you can wait until January 13th to upgrade, but with Christmas holidays often extending into the New Year, this may not be the most appropriate time to upgrade. Windows 7 extended support is also ending on January 14th 2020, so if you have either of these systems in your business, now is the time to act to prevent your company becoming a victim next year.
Windows Server 2019
This has been available for use since October last year. Microsoft have simplified the adoption of Server 2019 using a direct in-place upgrade for those running Server 2016 or 2012 R2.
If you’re running Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2, you will need to upgrade to Server 2012 or 2016, then upgrade to 2019. An extra requirement for domain controllers being upgraded is the new Active Directory schema, which is needed to complete the upgrade.
One of the best new features available for the new operating system is Windows Admin Center. This tool provides quick access to key server management information and displays data in visual graphs in a similar fashion to a hypervisor, with AI analytics predictions helping you to manage disk and memory well before you run out.
Security improvements have been made to protect you from suspicious scripts and untrusted sources and the Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection service will monitor and detect suspicious memory and kernel behaviour.
There are many pitfalls if you ignore the importance of a server upgrade. Possibly the biggest is a data breach. Now we’re in the era of GDPR, a simple data breach can cost you up to €20 million or 4% of annual global turnover, as well as the damage to your reputation, which is often irreparable.
If your company requires assistance in upgrading its Windows Servers, contact Blue Chip and we can complete the entire process for you.