Still running Windows 8.1? 3 steps you should take to protect yourself:
Windows 8.1 extended support reached EOL, and Windows 10 end of support is coming

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Reminder, Microsoft users: Windows 8.1 extended support reached end of life (EOL) on January 10, 2023. And another important date is approaching: Windows 10 will reach the end of support on October 14, 2025.

If you’re still running Windows 8.1, you won’t receive security updates and technical support from Microsoft. You should also not rely on Microsoft for Internet Explorer support, which has been retired and replaced by Microsoft Edge.

Many of you have been preparing for this event and have already upgraded to Windows 10 or Windows 11. We understand, however, that for some organizations, upgrading numerous devices from an aging operating system and retraining your staff can be tricky – especially if you need to run mission-critical applications.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals are counting on this. And since extended support reached EOL, they are actively targeting Windows 8.1.

Windows 11 adoption can’t wait

In addition to the increased security threat of using unsupported devices, not upgrading means you risk a hindered user experience, your IT teams’ productivity, and your organization’s bottom line. With improvements in network security, sustainability capabilities, modern device management (MDM), and video conferencing, moving to Windows 11 offers significant security, productivity, and collaboration benefits you don’t want to miss.

Ready to transition to Windows 11? Our experts can walk you through all the facets of your upgrade and device refresh journey – from device selection and flexible financing, to configuration, deployment, and training. And with seven steps to get started, our ebook will help you assess where you stand and how to move forward with optimized IT solutions and services. With new and improved features, Windows 11 enables better collaboration, robust IT management, and an enhanced security baseline for your organization’s evolving needs.

If you’re unable to update to Windows 11 at this time, then it’s essential to do your due diligence to protect your organization and minimize risk. Don’t focus your efforts at the device level but on the overall application solution.

If you’re still using Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, you need to assess, understand, and manage the risks of doing so. Here are three steps you should take to protect yourself against potential threats.

1. Perform a risk assessment

Maybe you have an application built on Windows 8.1 that’s running a scientific instrument. Perhaps you have an application reporting on machinery in an assembly line, pharmaceutical filling plant, or even a hospital.

One way or another, those programs need to run. When weighing the risk of security threats and downtime, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the business consequences associated with allowing unpatched devices to exist.

Ask yourself the following questions: Why are we doing this? What does it bring to the organization?

Perform a full risk assessment so you know the level of risk you’re up against. From there, either create a timeline for migrating to Windows 11 or build supporting controls to help you manage the risk you’ve identified.

2. Build a full technology profile

What are your machines doing? What are the technologies on those machines doing? These are key questions you must answer. Building a full technology profile helps you firm up essential answers to move forward.

Your profile must encompass communications ports and required processes. Be sure to map all live devices and confirm they are still required for a business function.

You should be as specific as possible when profiling each application. Look at areas like communication paths and network opportunities for better security. Develop a complete picture that lets you understand each application and the machine it exists on.

3. Harden your cybersecurity solutions

Building your full technology profile will clarify the steps you should take to secure a specific application.

Your next move could be straightforward. For instance, you may choose to implement identity and access management controls and build a restricted access network that supports the application in addition to the device. You may roll out complementary software to the platform that controls processes. Or your next move may be more complicated, depending on the item you’re securing and the level of risk it presents.

The level of risk will drive your decision

When an operating system changes, every organization’s primary goal is to minimize risk. Without Windows 8.1 extended support, organizations still running applications on this operating system must gauge their current tolerance and assess their compliance risk. If your organization falls into this category, will you still be compliant with PCI, SOX, or other compliance requirements while running out-of-support software?

If you have questions about Windows 8.1 extended support EOL, Windows 11 adoption, or a risk assessment, our experts are here to help. Contact us today to get support for your next step.