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FBI Issues Warning for Windows 7 End-of-Life

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FBI Issues Warning for Windows 7 End-of-Life

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a warning about the massive risks of getting hacked by using Windows 7.

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FBI Warns of Windows 7 Risks

The FBI has announced there is a greater risk of getting hacked by using Windows 7 than ever before. The operating system reached its official end-of-life (EOL) earlier this year.

All software eventually becomes out of date, after which point, ideally, it should not be used. This is the advice from the National Cyber Security Centre in the United Kingdom. To protect your networks and staff from legacy software and unsupported operating systems, these are the lessons we need to learn.

Robert Brown, Director of Services for Syxsense said, “Operating systems and software which are legacy or obsolete no longer receive security updates. Should a vulnerability become weaponized, you will have no choice but to uninstall that software or upgrade to the latest version. This sounds simple, but the process for doing so over a highly distributed environment takes time. However, time is what you do not have when a vulnerability is weaponized and spreading ransomware.”

FBI Urges Companies to Update Devices

The Bureau is asking companies to look into upgrading workstations to newer versions of the Windows operating system. To this day, Microsoft still allows Windows 7 systems to be upgraded to Windows 10 at no cost, even if this offer officially ended in July 2016.

Support for Windows 7 ended on January 14, 2020. There is an option to extend support for up to 3 years, but that extension includes an additional subscription to Microsoft and to relicense each of your Windows 7 devices with a new license key.

Patch Management Solution for Windows 7

In light of today’s news by the FBI, anyone still using Windows 7 who purchased the extension subscription (Extended Security Updates) can continue to patch those devices using Syxsense Manage. If you have not purchased that extension, you will find reports in our console which identify all those systems for upgrade to Windows 10. Since January there have been many of updates released to resolve vulnerabilities with Windows 7 in addition to .NET Framework vulnerabilities using the extension agreement.

If you don’t know what software is legacy, obsolete, or simply out of date, Syxsense Secure has a vulnerability scanner which can find out for you. It is loaded with hundreds of software where there is no option but to install or upgrade the latest version of the software.

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How to Handle Windows 7 End-of-Extended-Support

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How to Handle Windows 7 End-of-Extended-Support

After 10 years since its release, Windows 7 and Server 2008/R2 (extended) support will be finally coming to an end soon.
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What are Windows Extended Security Updates?

After 10 years since its release, Windows 7 and Server 2008/R2 (extended) support will be finally coming to an end on January 14, 2020. This means that routine security and optional updates will no longer be provided for the operating system, leaving many with unaddressed vulnerabilities and potentially no support from hardware manufacturers.

In January, these devices will receive their last updates. and will not receive any after that, unless administrators decide to opt-in (and pay) for Extended Security Updates (ESU) from Microsoft. These updates are designed as a stopgap and will become more expensive every year since Microsoft wants businesses and organizations to migrate to the newest versions of Windows. This means that consumers (home devices) cannot purchase these updates since they’re only available for organizations.

How are Extended Security Updates Obtained?

Once Windows 7 and Server 2008/R2 reaches End of Support, the operating system will no longer receive updates and will require new licensing to continue receiving updates.

Extended Security Updates can be purchased in 12-month increments (customers cannot purchase any shorter terms than 12-months). The updates are available to businesses and organizations of any size; however, the pricing will be different between volume licensed and non-volume licensed organizations.

Also, although end of support is January 14, 2020, organizations can purchase ESU at any time during the three years that the offer is available; however, if an organization waits and purchases ESU for the first time in year two or year three, they will have to pay for the preceding years also. This is because the security updates that are offered under the ESU program are cumulative.

Microsoft has also not published any limits on licensing, so technically an organization can purchase updates for just one device.

Once Extended Security Updates are purchased through Microsoft, or a Cloud Solution Provider (CSP), the organization will receive new activation details so that the unsupported devices can still receive new security updates throughout the year. Again, updates are purchased annually in 12-month terms, up to 3 years until Extended Security Updates is no longer offered (January 10, 2023).

An organization that uses volume licensing to manage on-premises deployments can use it to deploy ESU to the covered devices. When an organization purchases Windows 7 ESU, Microsoft provides a Multiple Activation Key (MAK) in the VLSC. This MAK key is independent of the Windows 7 activation key and can work in parallel together with a KMS activation deployment.

Is Technical Support Included with ESU?

No. Customers that purchase directly from Microsoft (for example, volume licensed customers or CSP-direct Partners) can use an active support contract such as Software Assurance or Premier/Unified Support to request assistance with Windows 7. Partners can also use their Partner Support Plans to request assistance with Windows 7.

What Other Products/Services are Affected on January 14, 2020?

Not just Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008/R2 are affected on January 14, 2020. Many Windows 7 users rely on Microsoft Security Essentials as a security application and at this time, there is no extended support planned for this product.

What if the Windows 7 or 2008/R2 Licenses Aren’t Extended?

Post-December 2019 Patch Tuesday (after KB4530734 has been deployed), Microsoft is planning to push a full-screen notification after January 15, 2020, to those still running the operating systems, making it clear that the devices are indeed out of support (this notification will not appear on domain-joined devices or devices in kiosk mode).

Other than this notification, nothing else will occur for these unsupported devices and they will remain vulnerable. The remaining options are clear:

  • Extend support for Windows 7 or 2008/R2 devices by paying extra each year for each device
  • Retire the instance of the operating system and move to the supported Windows 10 or newer versions of Windows Server

Manage and Secure Your Environment

Syxsense offers patch management for Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012. Rest assured that as new OS’s are released, your older desktops, laptops and servers will not be security loopholes for hackers.

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Syxsense has created innovative and intuitive technology that sees and knows everything. Manage and secure your environment with a simple and powerful solution.

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Sophos and Windows 7 Updates Incompatible

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Sophos and Windows 7 Updates Incompatible

Reports indicate Sophos Endpoint Antivirus is incompatible with the latest updates for Windows 7, causing a total crash on the log on screen or BSOD.
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Sophos Endpoint Antivirus is a hybrid antivirus solution that provides businesses protection against malware, viruses and offers a remote management tool. Regrettably, there are reports that it is not compatible with the latest Windows updates for Windows 7 causing either a total crash on the logon screen or BSOD.

The issue occurs with the following Microsoft updates:
  • KB4493446
  • KB4493448
  • KB4493450
  • KB4493451
  • KB4493458
  • KB4493467
  • KB4493471
  • KB4493472
Robert Brown, Director of Services for Verismic said, “We have learned Sophos recommends immediately removing these updates from your active deployments, and if already deployed to remove them swiftly until the issue is resolved. A patch is not yet available, but to make things easier our customers can search for these updates in Syxsense and easily remove them without causing any further end user disruption.”
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Microsoft is Making It Harder to Use Windows 7

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Microsoft is Making It Harder to Use Windows 7

With Microsoft ending support for Windows 7 in January 2020, users are being pushed to upgrade.
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With less than a year to go until Microsoft ends support for its ten-year-old operating system Windows 7, as many as 43% of enterprises are still running the outdated platform.

Recent research has found that nearly a fifth (17%) of IT departments don’t know when the end of support deadline is (It’s Jan 14, 2020), while 6% are aware of the end of support but have yet to start planning for their migration away from Windows 7.

End of support means that Microsoft will no longer issue security updates for the 10-year-old Windows 7 after Jan. 14, 2020. This poses a serious security risk for organizations to continue running Windows 7 unpatched.

Microsoft has already started to push users to upgrade to Windows 10 if they are using a computer with a newer processor type and an OS older than Windows 10.

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If a computer has any of the following OS/ Processor combinations, they will be unable to install and patches. The only solution is to upgrade to Windows 10.

The specific processor types are:

Intel seventh (7th)-generation processors

AMD “Bristol Ridge”

Qualcomm “8996

The specific OS types are:

Windows Server 2012 R2

Windows 8.1

Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows 7

With the powerful inventory query function, Syxsense can easily detect if you are exposed with unpatched operating systems running on new hardware.

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