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How to mitigate risk if you can’t upgrade Windows 7

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How to mitigate risk if you can’t upgrade Windows 7

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Microsoft ends support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. This means no more security patches and updates for Windows 7 computers.

What does this mean to you?

While your computer will continue to function and your anti-malware software will continue to provide protection, Microsoft will no longer be providing operating system patches for new security holes found in Windows 7. While this doesn’t necessarily mean your computer will get infected with malware or ransomware, it DOES mean that your risk of infection goes up substantially. Your anti-virus software will continue to operate as normal, but your anti-virus software may not recognize new threats and new ways of compromising Windows 7. The longer you keep Windows 7 machines in production, the more exposed your systems become to viruses and ransomware encryption.

If you are unable to upgrade your computers from Windows 7 to Windows 10, there are a few steps you can do to to protect your system from infection.

3Nines Technologies highly recommends upgrading to Windows 10

The only safe solution to this dilemma is to upgrade your computers running Windows 7 to Windows 10, or replace the older systems with new computers running Windows 10. We highly recommend upgrading all your Windows 7 computers well before January 14, 2020. The sooner you begin this process the better. It takes a skilled technician about an hour per computer (time depends on age of machine, memory and amount of data on PC) to perform the upgrade and if you are a managed services or remotely monitored client, we can perform this upgrade for you. We expect to be inundated with upgrade requests as the deadline approaches so if you want your system upgraded before the deadline, talk to us now and let us get you an estimate of the cost and get the upgrades scheduled.

What can you do to protect your Windows 7 machines?

If you are unable to upgrade your computers to Windows 10, there are several steps you can take to mitigate the risk of infection after Microsoft ends security update patches. If you can’t upgrade due to a line of business application, we understand. However, you need to remedy that situation either by upgrading your line of business version to the latest that DOES support Windows 10 or taking a serious look at using some other software. We know that isn’t fun to think about, but it probably time to move on.

Install Point9 Security Bundle

Good anti-malware software will be critical to protecting Windows 7 computers after January 14, 2020. Our Point9 Security Bundle offers advanced malware protection from SentinelOne. This next generation software uses artificial intelligence to learn how your machine operates and then protect it from any unusual threats. For example, if an as-yet discovered attack occurs on your Windows 7 machine, SentinelOne will detect the unusual activity, lock the computer from the network, quarantine the attacking software, and notify 3Nines Network Operations Center that unusual activity has happened on your computer. It may or may not be malware or ransomware, but at least the unusual activity is blocked until a skilled engineer can look at the machine and determine what has happened. And it all happens at machine speed rather than with a human trying to detect and stop the malware attack.

If your system is not already protected by 3Nines Security bundle, contact us today to get protected!

NOTE: After January 14, 2020, any malware or ransomware remediation performed by 3Nines Technologies on Windows 7 computers will be a billable charge, even for managed security clients.

Utilize Point9 Email Protection

Many malware attacks start with malicious emails. Hackers have become very skilled at mimicking legitimate emails and convincing unsuspecting victims to click on a link that starts the infection.

Our Point9 email protection service uses Proofpoint email filtering service to block out most malware before it even arrives at your email server. When email is blocked, you get notifications and can then choose to either approve a single email or all email from the sender, or block all future email from that sender. Proofpoint constantly updates their email filtering algorithms to learn and block phishing attacks before they can reach your end users, thereby providing an additional layer of protection for your organization.

Off-site or off-line backups

When a ransomware attack begins, often the first thing the ransomware program does is find and encrypt your backup. This allows them to continue encrypting the rest of your system while knowing you cannot restore from the encrypted backup. From there it searches for all connected network drives and begins encrypting those vulnerable drives.

Best practice is to have an off-site backup of your workstations and server. 3Nines Technologies uses solutions form Datto and Unitrends to move your critical data off-site and ensure that you can always restore in case of a ransomware attack.

If you don’t have off-site backup and instead back up to a locally attached hard drive, we highly recommend that you physically disconnect the drive after each backup. Leaving the drive connected to your computer or network assures that even the backups on that drive get encrypted, leaving you with no way to restore your important data.

Summary

If at all possible upgrade all of your workstations to Windows 10 well before the January 14, 2020 deadline. If you are not able to upgrade before the deadline, follow the procedures listed above to provide protection for your Windows 7 computers. Contact 3Nines Technologies if you need planning and budgeting help. We offer financing for clients who need a way to budget their upgrade over time. And finally, make sure you have some type of off-site or off-line backup of your important data. Or risk the cost of a hefty ransomware payment.