The problem is that some of the vulnerabilities Microsoft is trying to patch tomorrow might also exist in Windows XP, and a security expert warns that hackers could try to reverse engineer the updates in order to find a way to exploit the flaws in XP.
Windows XP is still installed on nearly 26 percent of the desktop computers worldwide, which is the most obvious indication that, in the case of an unpatched vulnerability, millions of machines out there could be easily hacked by cybercriminals worldwide.
“Come Tuesday, Microsoft will be patching some vulnerabilities in Windows, and it is realistic to assume that at least one of these will also affect Windows XP. That means we can expect to see exploits in the wild for vulnerabilities in XP because it is End-of-Life, private users will not receive patches from Microsoft,” Kasper Lindgaard, director of Research and Security at Secunia, said in a statement.
Microsoft might indirectly aid Windows hackers by rolling out updates for the security flaws it finds in Windows versions other than XP that could also exist in this particular OS version. Redmond has already announced its decision to keep Windows XP out of its Patch Tuesday rollouts, so such a thing is more or less unavoidable.
“Generally speaking, newly discovered vulnerabilities in XP will be unpatchable for private users, and therefore we will see a rise in attacks. XP users will in future basically be a ‘free-for-all’ to hackers, who can create and use exploits at will. Additionally, future patches to the other Windows operating systems will be reverse engineered by hackers, seeking to discover which vulnerabilities were fixed by Microsoft, and subsequently – if applicable – modified to work against Windows XP,” Lindgaard continued.
As usual, upgrading to a newer OS version is basically the only way to make sure that your computer isn’t exposed to attacks, and Microsoft clearly recommends those running XP to look into newer platforms as soon as possible.
Windows 8.1 is Microsoft’s operating system of choice, but such an upgrade would also require new hardware in order to cope with the requirements of a modern platform.