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    Securing XP PCs after Microsoft drops support




    TOP STORY


    Securing XP PCs after Microsoft drops support


    By Susan Bradley

    All good things must come to an end; in less than four months, Microsoft will officially end support for Windows XP.

    Here are the steps I'll take to ensure that my remaining XP machines are as secure as they can be.

    The full text of this column is posted at http://windowssecrets.com/top-story/...drops-support/ (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

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    A very nice article. Well done for pointing out how to block these machines from Internet access while able to access local networks.
    I would suggest that anyone who 'needs' to keep XP to do this and avoid all browsers and all Internet access. That leaves infection from
    physical access and LAN traffic, the first being the worse.

    As for the Anti-virus you are correct. AV software is reactive to discoveries. There is NO AV software that can prevent infection, and there never will be. Short of booting from a CD with new equipment each day ( to avoid the NSA's 'alleged' BIOS hack, and other firmware attacks) Once compromised any number of undetected trojans, rootkits, and malware that is not detected now, or possibly ever can be planted. At that point only a complete re-install of the OS is the only 100% safe method to assure a clean and safe computer.

    At work, I would NEVER NEVER NEVER take an infected PC and put my faith in a AV removal process and then put that PC back on my backbone. That PC goes to be totally wiped and reinstalled. Timely, yes. Costly? Not as costly as having 100 more computers, or my servers infected.
    Last edited by macropod; 2013-12-19 at 14:14. Reason: Removed discussion of deleted post

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    You can Google for AV reviews and on the tests done, some are better than others at detection and I wouldn't recommend MSE either, but I also agree that no AV program is 100% effective because of what is out in the wild.

    AV programs look for known heuristics and hope that future Trojans etc. are using similar methods, but safe browsing and not using P2P will go a long way to keeping you safe - otherwise I thought the info on blocking Internet for when the time comes was useful as once support for XP ceases, then it will seem like Christmas for the Hackers.

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    Susan, you failed to mention the most powerful way to secure XP, replace it with one of the many cool disro's of Linux such as Mint or Ubuntu. Although this solution is not for many users, those who have basic computing needs like web surfing, office productivity, and yes, gaming, would be amazed at what is available to them in the open-source world. I have converted many friends from XP to Mint and the learning curve is minimal, their old hardware still performs well, and they have a very modern operating system without the security challenges of XP and Windows in general. Most small businesses could convert (granted, with some effort) to Linux even if they have apps that require XP. Virtual Box runs great under Linux and XP works great in Virtual Box.

    Personally I have 2 Mint 15 machines and 2 Windows 7 machines on my home network. We share files and an HP printer seamlessly. Oh, by the way, my Dish DVR runs on Linux, my Roku box (which I love) runs Linux, my Chromecast adapter for my TV is Linux based, our Android phones are Linux...do you see a pattern here? Huge numbers of people interact with Linux every day and don't even realize it.

    I do appreciate Windows Secrets, I've been a subscriber for years, and you guys are excellent. You've given us great information over the years, many times baling me out of a problem situation when I was a network admin for a good sized organization. Now that I'm retired I find myself supporting many friends when their Windows computers have a problem, and while Win 7 is a great OS, more and more of our daily activities are web based and not dependant on a particular OS.

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    "By and large, there's no compelling reason to stick with XP — and, as noted above, there are important reasons not to."

    It took me a few minutes to compose myself after I saw your comment in paragraph 5. It sounds like you've been drinking the Kool-aid that Microsoft dispenses to people like the editors of Windows Secrets.

    In the real world, we eventually retire, then try to avoid the "Microsoft tax" by keeping old hardware (or an old PC or two) in our attics, and holding on to Windows XP.

    I've spent a lot of money over the years buying licensed software for a dozen applications that are no long compatible with Win XP. Thankfully, God gave me the ability to buy / build / maintain computers.

    With that in mind, I don't have the financial resources like you many of you do. I'm hanging on to XP for personal reasons.

    Other than your short-sighted opinion about retirees, it was a pretty good piece.

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    I'm curious if the major computer vendors such as Dell, HP, etc will continue to provide drivers on their support websites for those machines still running XP.
    I own a small computer repair business & sell refurbished computers in an area dominated by seniors. They want nothing to do with Windows 8 or even Windows 7. They like their XP.

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    Because I use XP for sandboxing protection (via VM), I protect mine thusly:

    http://windowssecrets.com/forums/sho...ategy-a-little

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    It is unbelievable that Microsoft would not create an easy migration path - think service-pack installation "easy" - that would keep existing customers connected to the Microsoft product and services infrastructure.

    My parents do an amazingly good job of keeping their XP system updated with fixes and other software updates; however, they skipped the only real migration path - Vista - when their technology-savy grand-children cautioned them against it. Their computer was purchased at a time when there were really only two options (Apple or PC) and they don't feel that a new computer purchase can be justified based on what they use it for. After months of discussing the alternatives, the grand-kids have talked them into using Linux Mint.

    I imagine there are millions of people who find themselves in the same situation that will make a similar decision.

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    Quote Originally Posted by edwestern View Post
    I'm curious if the major computer vendors such as Dell, HP, etc will continue to provide drivers on their support websites for those machines still running XP.
    I own a small computer repair business & sell refurbished computers in an area dominated by seniors. They want nothing to do with Windows 8 or even Windows 7. They like their XP.
    If an XP driver just happens to work then so be it but it is unlikely that the OEMs will continue to supply XP drivers for new machines since they can no longer sell XP. As the chips change for motherboards, integrated devices, and add-on devices it just does not make financial sense for the OEMs to devote the time & effort in development and support of XP.

    Joe

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    the grand-kids have talked them into using Linux Mint.
    I imagine there are millions of people who find themselves in the same situation that will make a similar decision.
    Maybe, but I highly doubt it.
    The grand kids would be better off moving them over to Windows 7 as opposed to learning an alien OS like Linux.
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    It's astonishing that Xp has lasted 12 years, but if something's good, it will indeed show staying power. It's managed to outlive the mess called "Longhorn" (You know, like Pinocchio, except substitute nose for horn, and Vista for Longhorn!), and took us to Windows 7. It's a real shame that M$ has tried to emulate Apple , with their new major OS now every 4 months.. formerly it was every year, now it's not even a half year. And they have been fixing all these things that weren't broken. For MS to even consider emulating this bunch is worrisome. Microsoft, however, are expert at Windows. I hope they just stick with that, and allow Windows 7 to run it's full course.
    XP is hardly out of date either, as far as running programs is concerned. I wouldn't ever consider going online with it (!), but who says you ever need to? Win 7 or 8.1, or all your little "devices", are fine for that. I use it for Visual Pinball, and it works like a charm, in large part precisely *because* it is so old. There's no "new improvements" that get in the way of running all my older pinballs, either. Multibooting is so easily facilitated nowadays that one only need set that up, and if it is confined to a home network, you are perfectly safe. Any exploit would be discovered by your fully updated AV on Win 7 or 8.1 anyways.
    Mainly, though, when it comes to securing Windows XP in the future,. how's this? *unplug the network cable*! ;-)
    Last edited by Doccus; 2013-12-19 at 18:29.

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    How about an article and/or "easy" instructions for installing an OS like Linux Mint to dual boot with Win XP as second option, keeping all of Win XP as it is. I have many legacy XP items I want to retain, and use Mint for Internet access - email, research, etc.

    Thanks

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    Honestly, keep the XP as it is. Don't try to dual boot which adds oddities. Go to amazon and buy a cheap ubuntu netbook.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Harvey View Post
    "By and large, there's no compelling reason to stick with XP — and, as noted above, there are important reasons not to."

    It took me a few minutes to compose myself after I saw your comment in paragraph 5. It sounds like you've been drinking the Kool-aid that Microsoft dispenses to people like the editors of Windows Secrets.

    In the real world, we eventually retire, then try to avoid the "Microsoft tax" by keeping old hardware (or an old PC or two) in our attics, and holding on to Windows XP.

    I've spent a lot of money over the years buying licensed software for a dozen applications that are no long compatible with Win XP. Thankfully, God gave me the ability to buy / build / maintain computers.

    With that in mind, I don't have the financial resources like you many of you do. I'm hanging on to XP for personal reasons.

    Other than your short-sighted opinion about retirees, it was a pretty good piece.
    This is why I'm recommending to not surf with it and get a kindle. You can get a very inexpensive kindle device that will allow you to still get email on a fully supported device.

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    Good lord what a strange comment.*Which is more inconvenient, having to use a completely different device altogether, or just clicking "XP" or"Ubuntu" at boot... What kind of "oddities" does that add? Once booted into the chosen OS there's absolutely NO difference. Except it's MUCH easier to check your mail or go online.. just reboot! Fact is that there really IS a "compelling reason" to stick with XP.. and that is SPEED, and hardware requirements... The system req's for Vista and on up are vastly higher, and franlkly, any system running XP for more than a few years can NOT run those OSs. Period.

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