Microsoft has officially ended general support of Windows XP, but many have not updated or replaced their Windows XP PCs. Although we recommend against continuing to use Windows XP, particularly in any Internet-facing role, there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of remaining on this platform.
The easiest, but least practical solution would be to disconnect all Windows XP PCs from the Internet or to limit their access to the Internet. This step could exclude exposure to outside sources, but reduces the effectiveness of these PCs.
The second-most effective strategy would be to replace older versions of Internet Explorer (IE) with a supported Internet browser; replacing IE with Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome will reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of using a Windows XP PC to browse the Internet. (Windows XP originally released with IE 6, but most Windows XP systems are now running version 7 or 8. The current version of IE is 11.)
Updating to Mozilla’s Firefox is easy:
- Go to http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/.
- Press the “Firefox Free Download” button.
- Run the Firefox Setup Stub to install the program.
- Run the Firefox Setup Wizard to configure Firefox.
Please see http://www.zdnet.com/windows-xp-support-ends-survival-tips-to-stay-safe-7000028188/ for more information from Charlie Osborn of ZDNet. Or, visit http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9246877/US_CERT_urges_XP_users_to_dump_IE?source=CTWNLE_nlt_pm_2014-03-11 for a similar message from Gregg Keizer of ComputerWorld.
Additional steps to reduce Windows XP risk include:
- Disable the ability to add new applications to a Windows XP PC
- Remove administrative rights of all Windows XP users
- Disable ports and drives on Windows XP PCs
See the article from Toby Wolpe of ZDNet at http://www.zdnet.com/windows-xp-support-end-10-steps-to-cut-security-risks-7000028193/.