Support Ends today for Windows XP and Office 2003

RIP Windows XP and Office 2003!

Well, like it or not, Windows XP Home and Professional, as well as Microsoft Office 2003 support ends today, April 8, 2014.

Windows XP Home and Professional Support Ends today, April 8, 2014!

Windows XP Home and Professional Support Ends today, April 8, 2014!

 

Windows XP support end: 10 steps to cut security risks – ZDNet

“While doing nothing is an option, we do not believe that most organisations — or their auditors — will find this level of risk acceptable,” vice president and Gartner fellow Neil MacDonald said in a report, Best practices for secure use of XP after support ends.

Between 20 percent and 25 percent of enterprise systems are still running XP, and one-third of organisations continue to use it on more than 10 percent of their machines, Gartner estimates.

For those still using the venerable OS after the end of routine Microsoft updates and security patches, MacDonald has come up with 10 best practices to minimise the risks.

Rest in Peace, Windows XP – PCMag SecurityWatch

Rest in Peace Windows XP 2001-2014 You will be missed!

Rest in Peace Windows XP 2001-2014 You will be missed! Image links to PCMag article.

This is the end. Your Windows XP computer will get its last update today. Oh, it’s not going to roll over and kick the bucket, but continuing to use it will be more and more dangerous, since any new vulnerabilities that arise won’t be patched. We checked in with a number of security experts to discuss just how risky life will be for those who continue to run XP.

It’s the end of the line for Windows XP – USAToday

The software — introduced in an era before texting, Facebook, Snapchat, the iPhone and iPad — has lingered thanks to the reluctance of many consumers and small businesses to change. Despite its age, XP is the No. 2 computer operating system, and many folks are in store for a rude wake-up call.

Microsoft on Tuesday ceases official support for XP. The company will no longer issue patches or system updates to protect against viruses and other malware. If you run into any snags at all, you won’t be able to call Microsoft for technical assistance.

Microsoft Ends Support for Windows XP – Mashable

“Microsoft has provided support for Windows XP for the past 12 years. But now the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences,” wrote Microsoft in an announcement.

Launched on October 25, 2001, Windows XP is one of the most successful Microsoft products ever; its successor, Windows Vista, was quickly replaced with Windows 7, and it took as long as September 2012 for Windows 7 to overtake XP as the most popular desktop operating system.

Microsoft ends support for Windows XP and Office 2003 – TheNextWeb

If you’re wondering why April 8, 2014 is the date support for both of these products ends, it’s really quite simple. Microsoft releases regular patches on Patch Tuesday, the second Tuesday of every month.

Microsoft supports its products for many years, and depending on when service packs as well as successors are released, the company eventually announces, in advance, when it will cut off support. April 8 happens to be the last Patch Tuesday for both products, meaning if security holes are found after today’s date, they won’t be plugged.

Excellent point!

Netmarketshare.com for Operating Systems pulled today showed March 2014 tallies:

Networkmarketshare, as of March 2014, pulled today, still shows Windows XP as 27.69% of the MarketShare.

Networkmarketshare, as of March 2014, pulled today, still shows Windows XP as 27.69% of the MarketShare. Link goes to metmarketshare.com

I personally still find it unbelievable that Microsoft, or any company really, would retire/pull support an OS that still garners nearly 30% of Windows users around the world.

Of course if you are an Enterprise company that can afford $200 PER PC for the first year, and increasing amounts each year THEREAFTER for Windows XP updates (security updates only by the way)…

Windows XP support will be available after April 8—just not for you – PCMag

Meet Microsoft’s Custom Support for Windows XP, described as a last-ditch effort for big businesses to quite literally buy some more time to migrate from Windows XP to a more modern operating system. The U.K. paid 5.548 million pounds to Microsoft for an additional year of support to maintain critical and important security updates for Windows XP, Office 2003, and Exchange 2003. Otherwise, Microsoft plans to end support for Windows XP by April 8.

Microsoft has been warning about the demise of Windows XP support since September, 2007, and Custom Support will extract a heavy toll from businesses that were too slow to act: up to $5 million per year (according to a report from Gartner), negotiated on a custom, per-company basis. Last year, Gartner issued a report claiming that the prices could go as high as $200 per PC, per year. The firm called such prices “punitive”.

Should consumers get the same break?

To date, Microsoft has given no indication that it will extend consumer support for Windows XP after the April 8 deadline, even though it has extended anti-malware support through July, 2015. After that date, any and all vulnerabilities found for Windows XP will live on forever, even though there are some avenues to keep your PC safe and protected after the deadline expires.

BTW: Apple‘s Mac OS X Mavericks holds 3.75% of the market (putting it between Windows 8.1 and Vista), however, if you include all Mac OS X operating systems listed: Mac OS X 10.6 1.29% (support ended), Mac OS X 10.8 1.18%, Mac OS X 10.7 1.05% Mac OS X 10.5 .24% (support ended), Mac OX X 10.4 0.06% (supported ended), and Mac OS X no version reported 0.01%, then the total is 7.58% of the operating system total market share (which puts it on the low end between Windows XP and Windows 8).

But, that does mean that only 1.59% of all Mac OS X users are running expired versions with no support.

Compare that with 27.69% of Windows users running  Windows XP.

NOTE: That doesn’t count the expired/no support users running Windows NT at 0.15%, Windows 2000 at 0.03%. Apparently Windows 98 users have finally fallen off at 0.00%.

Windows XP end of support: why it concerns you – OnWindows.com

Reto Haeni explores the risks of running Windows XP after its end of service and the benefits of migrating to newer operating systems

This article was first published in the Spring 2014 issue of Touch

Designed in a different era

Computers running Windows XP routinely experience a significantly higher malware infection rate than computers running any other supported version of Windows. Much of the elevated infection rate on Windows XP can be attributed to the fact that some of the key built-in security features included with more recent versions of Windows are not present in Windows XP. Windows XP, designed in a different era, simply can’t mitigate threats as effectively as newer operating systems, like Windows 7 and Windows 8. As the threat landscape has evolved over the past twelve years since the release of Windows XP, so has software security.

It’s time folks! If you haven’t done it yet, and if you are still running Windows XP on the Internet, it is high time to correct this by upgrading to a modern OS that is still supported, or disconnect from the Internet.

Please, unless you are a technical person who truly understands the risks and has taken steps to mitigate the overwhelming risks, then please be responsible and disconnect your Windows XP computer now!

Or move to new computer running a current version of Windows, or a Mac from Apple, or the Open Source ‘UNIX like’ Linux operating system and run Windows XP programs with Crossover as suggested here, or you could use Windows XP offline, and use a Linux LiveCD for Internet surfing and email, etc as suggested here and not mess up your offline Windows XP system. No matter how you do it, PULL THE PLUG on Windows XP – Disconnect the Ethernet or Wireless connection to the Internet! Just as soon as you get any April 8th Windows Updates on Patch Tuesday.

Unless you know what you are doing, you will be playing Russian Roulette with your Windows XP computer if you allow it to be online once Microsoft ends support after April 8, 2014. And that has been only Life Line extended support since 2009.

 

Microsoft Office 2003 support ends today, April 8, 2014!

Microsoft Office 2003 support ends today, April 8, 2014!

We also mentioned Microsoft Office 2003. Oh, yes, Microsoft Office 2003 has also expired today. No more security updates will be provided for Office 2003 either, just like Windows XP.

If you are still using Office 2003, it’s high time to remove it and move to a current version of Microsoft Office, or move to one of the Open Source alternatives such as;  Apache Foundation‘s OpenOffice.org or Document Foundation‘s LibreOffice, or move to using online versions of MS Office software like MS Office Web Apps or move over to Google’s online document handling programs; Google Docs.

 

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XP SP3 and Office 2003 Support Ends April 8, 2014

Windows XP has been around since August 24, 2001 – 12 years ago now. It is getting VERY long in the tooth.

Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 Support Ends April 8th, 2014

Like many Operating System versions, Windows XP was not such a great OS in the beginning. BUT, like many Microsoft products, it got better after Service Pack 1 (SP1), but wasn’t the best it could be till after Service Pack 2 (SP2) and mildly better after Service Pack 3 (SP3). SP3 is the current version of Windows XP.

I loved Windows XP for a long time, even though it was getting long in the tooth. But I have come to love Windows 7 even more. Windows 8 … the jury is still out. For me I use several different operating systems. I also love and use Mac OS X or just OS X (as it is called now) and Debian Linux.

Windows XP has been on life support or Extended Support since April 8, 2009 when Mainstream Support ended. That was after two says of execution as it were since it was supposed to be ended earlier than 2009.

Windows XP has been the main stay for many folks for a long time in the Windows world — the last 12 years. That’s a long time for an Operating System version.

Windows XP still holds the #2 spot at 31.24% of computer users as shown below in the graph from NetMarketShare.com:

NetMarketShare.com Operating System Breakout - November 1, 2013

NetMarketShare.com Operating System Breakout – November 1, 2013

Windows 7 holds the #1 spot for a very good reason. It is still the best of the newer Operating Systems from Microsoft to date — in my opinion and nearly half of all Windows users to date. And Windows 7 is still good to go until January 14, 2020 (end of Extended Support – it is still in Mainstream Support until January 15, 2015). Here’s the break out of the Windows lifecycle fact sheet info:

Windows Life Cycles from the Windows Life Cycle Fact Sheet

Windows Life Cycles from the Windows Life Cycle Fact Sheet

I have said all this because we need to see where were are, and where we need to be as computer users, particularly as Windows users with April 8, 2014 looming over those of us still using Windows XP.

Especially in the light of the pervasive malware purveyors out there today.

We need to make sure we are all no longer using Windows XP of any kind before or at least by April 8, 2014 when Microsoft will no longer be providing ANY security updates for Windows XP.

A few years back they did the same thing with Windows 2000. It’s now Windows XP’s turn.

Please read the following articles to see why this will be very important:

Windows XP infection rate may jump 66% after patches end in April – Computerworld

Microsoft yesterday again put the scare into Windows XP users, telling them that after April 8, 2014, the chance that malware will infect their PCs could jump by two-thirds.

Windows lifecycle fact sheet – Microsoft.com (image above)

New stats show Windows 8 usage up sharply as XP usage plummets – ZDNet (for curiosity though, look at the difference between the table on ZDNet’s article and the one today).

NetMarketShare (choose Operating Systems from the dropdown to see the chart above in real time)

Gartner Says Worldwide PC, Tablet and Mobile Phone Shipments to Grow 4.5 Percent in 2013 as Lower-Priced Devices Drive Growth – Gartner.com

Source: Gartner Oct 2013 - Worldwide Device Shipments by Segment

Source: Gartner Oct 2013 – Worldwide Device Shipments by Segment

It would appear, that, as predicted, many around the world are moving to other types of computers, in particular mobile devices. This was forecast and it would seem to be coming to pass rather dramatically now.

It is amazing to see the number of people who rarely if ever use their desktop computers these days, relying on their mobile devices for almost all, if not all, their computing and Internet needs. Some folks no longer even have a computer other than a tablet, like the iPad or Nexus Tablet, or Surface, etc., or just use their smartphones for their email, browsing, messaging, gaming, etc. which is the bulk of what people seem to do on the Internet these days. Unless of course if their work or business, or gaming bents, are important to them. Having said that, even gaming has very much gone mobile for many people.

I am hoping that folks will take a look at the overall picture and determine which direction they wish to go now that there are only a few months left before Windows XP will no longer be a viable Internet connected computer.

Will a Desktop or Laptop be the way to go, or will a Mobile device like a Tablet or maybe even just a smartphone be enough for many folks? Staying with Windows or moving to a Mac may also be a consideration.

No matter which way folks ultimately go, deciding will be important and thinking about this is really needed with Windows XP going away in just a short few months.

Over 31% of computer users will need to make this decision before April 8, 2014, if they wish to remain as safe as they can be on the Internet.

Even with Google Chrome continuing to support Windows XP SP3 a year after Microsoft (till 2015), if the Operating System itself has no updates, that will certainly not be enough.

Lots to think about and only a few months to decide … Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 Support Ends April 8th, 2014

Disable Java – Windows, Mac, Linux

US Department of Homeland Security advises disabling Java following fresh zero-day vulnerability – The Verge

A new Trojan horse has been discovered that exploits a flaw found in Java, leaving computers running Windows, Mac OS, and Linux vulnerable to attack. Mal/JavaJar-B allows attackers to remotely trigger code once it infects a system, potentially leading to the installation of malware, or even ransomware. Oracle hasn’t yet patched the vulnerability, which targets even the latest version of Java.

US-CERT RECOMMENDS THAT USERS DISABLE JAVA IN WEB BROWSERS

Apple has already taken care of this on the Mac by updating to disallow all Java except including the new one that hasn’t even been released yet. Excellent move from Apple.

Firefox and Google Chrome has had you click to even use Java for awhile now. From my experience, I believe that includes the current version of Java as well. As noted above, Firefox now includes the current version of Java in their blacklist. You have to personally choose to actually use Java using their Click to Play feature. Thank you Mozilla!

Google Chrome has instituted on December 21, 2012, noted in their blog posting, a feature that disallows silent extension addon installations. I believe this is something that Mozilla did some time ago when they experienced problems with it. Or maybe not.

So you will definitely want to disable Java in all browsers in Windows, Linux and on the Mac just to be safe for now.

Internet Explorer now allows you to disallow plugins by default and only allow those you specifically allow. But if you have allowed Java in the past, you will want to disable it:

How to Disable Java – PCMag

The PCMag article gives instructions for all the main browsers. Check it out and please for your sake don’t use a browser for general use that allows Java at least for now.

Disable it in at least one browser that you can use for general purpose use.

Whichever method you choose, visit the Java test page at http://java.com/en/download/testjava.jsp to confirm that Java is disabled. Yes, you’ll occasionally run across a website that relies on Java. If necessary, you can temporarily enable Java for those sites. But you may be surprised at how little you miss it.

More here at Security Garden, Dottech.org (How to/tutorial with images) and Venture Beat as well.

I have Java totally disallowed in my main browser, and enabled in one of my other browsers so I can still go to Secunia.com to use their OSI (Online Security Inspector) to check plugins and Internet facing programs. I also compare that with Firefox’s plugin checker. This in Windows. On my Mac, I have Java disabled in all but one browser and turn Java on and off as needed overall. In Linux Java is also disabled in my main browser.

This is very important until Oracle gets this updated and is quick to fix these vulnerabilities.

Oracle really needs to get on the stick before they and all the programs that make use of them are made obsolete! And there are millions of them!!!

EDIT: As of 1/11/2013 – Added Mozilla’s and Apple’s change to include blacklisting of the current version of Java due to the Trojan affecting even the current version of Java. See the info earlier in the posting.

Religious websites riskier than porn for online viruses: study

Religious websites riskier than porn for online viruses: study – Raw Story

Web wanderers are more likely to get a computer virus by visiting a religious website than by peering at porn, according to a study released on Tuesday.

“Drive-by attacks” in which hackers booby-trap legitimate websites with malicious code continue to be a bane, the US-based anti-virus vendor Symantec said in its Internet Security Threat Report.

The same article, or variations on the theme have been have been run by many news/technology venues such as InformationWeek, NYDailyNews, WallStreetJournal Blogs, CSO Online, PCWorld, etc. Many created their own stories from the report, so well worth a read.

Where did all this information come from:
Symantec Internet Security Threat Report – 2011
Symantec Logo - Confidence in a Connected World - Click to view Malicious Code Threat Report 2011

Malware in 2011
By analyzing malicious code we can determine which threats types and attack vectors are being employed. The endpoint is often the last line of defense, but it can often be the first-line of defense against attacks that spread using USB storage devices, insecure network connections and compromised, infected websites. Symantec’s cloud-based technology and reputation systems can also help to identify and block new and emerging attacks that haven’t been seen before, such as new targeted attacks employing previously unknown zero-day exploits. Analysis of malware activity trends both in the cloud and at the endpoint can help to shed light on the wider nature of threats confronting businesses, especially from blended attacks and threats facing mobile workers.

Corresponding to their large internet populations, the United States, China and India remained the top sources for overall malicious activity. …

The reference about religious sites?

Moreover, religious and ideological sites were found to have triple the average number of threats per infected site than adult/pornographic sites. We hypothesize that this is because pornographic website owners already make money from the internet and, as a result, have a vested interest in keeping their sites malware-free – it’s not good for repeat business.

And here’s just one more small area of the report:

Exploiting the Web: Attack toolkits, rootkits and social networking threats

Attack toolkits, which allow criminals to create new malware and assemble an entire attack without having to write the software from scratch, account for nearly two-thirds (61%) of all threat activity on malicious websites. As these kits become more widespread, robust and easier to use, this number is expected to climb. New exploits are quickly incorporated into attack kits. Each new toolkit version released during the year is accompanied with increased malicious Web attack activity. As a new version emerges that incorporates new exploit functionality, we see an increased use of it in the wild, making as much use of the new exploits until potential victims have patched their systems. For example, the number of attacks using the Blackhole toolkit, which was very active in 2010, dropped to a few hundred attacks per day in the middle of 2011, but re-emerged with newer versions generating hundreds of thousands of infection attempts per day towards the end of the year.
On average, attack toolkits contain around 10 different exploits, mostly focusing on browser independent plug-in vulnerabilities like Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader and Java. Popular kits can be updated every few days and each update may trigger a wave of new attacks.
They are relatively easy to find and sold on the underground black market and web forums. Prices range from $40 to $4,000. …

The whole report is well worth a read! There is only so much you can put into an article.

Much more in the report!

New, sneakier Flashback malware infects Macs

New, sneakier Flashback malware infects Macs – Computerworld

A new, sneakier variant of the Flashback malware was uncovered yesterday by the French security firm Intego.

Flashback.S, which Intego described Monday, uses the same Java vulnerability as an earlier version that has infected an estimated 820,000 Macs since its appearance and still plagues over 600,000 machines.

But unlike Flashback.K, the variant that first surfaced last month and has caused consternation among Mac users, Flashback.S never asks the victim to enter an administrative password for installation, but instead relies only on the silent exploit of the Java bug to sneak onto the system.

“The differences are very subtle,” Peter James, a spokesman for Intego, said in an interview Tuesday. “There’s no password request [by Flashback.S].”

Much more in the two page article.

Apple will likely need to update their seek and destroy tool very quickly to help users stay free of this new variant.

If you think you are beginning to need an antivirus/antimalware solution, there are quite a few out there. Below are just a few:


Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition
– Sophos has a worthy product out there and it is nice that they make their money on corporate/business computers and offer the home version for free.

ClamXav The Free Anti-Virus Solution for Mac OS X It uses the popular open source ClamAV engine as it’s back end and has the ability to detect both Windows and Mac threats.

There are other options as well for the Pay to Play crowd.

ESET Cybersecurity for Mac

And others from Intego Virus Barrier for Mac free and Pro versions available in the Mac App Store. Intego as noted above found this newest FlashBack in the wild). Other Mac antivirus firms Symantec/Norton, and many more.

Many of these come with a heavy CPU usage hit that is very annoying considering the small number of actual threats out there for the Mac. Of course some users may feel that the ones that provide real time protection are the way to go, some may feel it is worth it if their Macs are speedy enough and they have enough RAM.

For those who don’t think they need a Mac antivirus just yet, if you don’t use Java or none of your programs use Java, you could go to the ~/Applications/Utilities/Java Preferences.app and disable Java until you actually need it and then re-enable it as needed. It’s a very easy thing to do really.

Or you could set up AppleScript to monitor areas where malware might inject itself so it will alert you.

Monitor OS X LaunchAgents folders to help prevent malware attacks – CNET

Some additional locations to add can be found at MrAnderson.info here.

Also installing Piriform CCleaner for Mac is a great idea and can be run as needed very quickly every day even.

Certainly less of a system resource hit and one could still have a non-resident antivirus and scan at your convenience and respond if the Applescript tells you something is going on that you didn’t instigate by installing a program, etc.

The Applescript monitoring locations that you can set up is built with Mac OS X which is light on resources and free. The Applescript monitoring does a similar thing as WinPatrol does in Windows – but of course in a very small area comparatively. WinPatrol does so much more but the key similarity is the monitoring for changes to areas that malware can hit a Windows PC.

What we need for people who are not very savvy about these things is a MacPatrol app like WinPatrol.

Call Starkist

New version of Mac OS X Trojan exploits Word, not Java

New version of Mac OS X Trojan exploits Word, not Java – ZDNET

A second variant of the Mac OS X Trojan referred to as Backdoor.OSX.SabPub.a or SX/Sabpab-A is exploiting a Microsoft Word security hole, not the usual Java vulnerabilities used before.

Just a few days ago, a new Mac OS X Trojan was spotted in the wild that exploited Java vulnerabilities and required no user interaction to infect your Apple Mac, just like the Flashback Trojan. Kaspersky referred to it as “Backdoor.OSX.SabPub.a” while Sophoscalled it at “SX/Sabpab-A.” Now, both security firms have confirmed a different variant of this new Trojan that infects Macs by exploiting Microsoft Word, not Java.

Sophos detects the malicious Word documents as Troj/DocOSXDr-A and points to the following Microsoft Security Bulletin: MS09-027. Kaspersky meanwhile points to this security bulletin for the same Microsoft Word security hole: CVE-2009-0563.

So, it looks like uninstalling Java or disabling it is not the biggest threat afterall. 😉 Now you need to upgrade your Microsoft Office software to protect you from this.

Very important to do, and updating your Java is very important too through Apple Software Updates as Apple put out another update that not only fixed the problem, it also removed the malware infection if found.

Better late than never? Apple has released the third Java update in a week for Mac OS X, and this one contains the tool to remove the Flashback malware from infected systems. Beneath the belated fix to help users eradicate the threat, Apple has introduced a proactive approach to reducing security risk, and other vendors should take note.

Java update for OS X patches Flashback malware exploit

Java update for OS X patches Flashback malware exploit – CNET:

Following the recent Flashback malware developments for OS X where unpatched vulnerabilities in the latest Java runtime for OS X were being exploited, Apple has issued an update that brings Java up-to-date and patches these vulnerabilities.

The patch is available via Software Update for systems that have Java installed, but can also be downloaded from the following Apple support Web pages. The update is available only for OS X 10.6 and 10.7, since Apple has stopped supporting prior versions of OS X.

Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 7
Java for OS X Lion 2012-001

EDIT:

Mac Botnet Infects More Than 600,000 Apple Computers – eWeek

Apple’s security code of silence: A big problem – CNET
:

Security industry insiders have long known the Mac platform has its holes. The Flashback Trojan is the first in-the-wild issue that’s confirmed this, and big-time. More will follow unless Apple steps up its game.


Secure your Mac from Flashback infection – USAToday
:

Flashback is technically not a trojan-horse application at all, but a “drive-by download” that infects computers by exploiting a vulnerability in Web software.

That makes it much worse than a trojan: You just need to visit a malicious site, without downloading the wrong app or entering an admin password, to have this program silently take command of your Mac and begin altering the content of Web pages.

Find Out if Your Mac Has the Flashback Trojan — the Fast and Easy Way – Mashable – Two quick Applescript scripts if you are squeemish about running commands in a commandline terminal. I have not used them as I checked in commandline. Use at your own risk.

..

It is tragic that for all the online virus/malware scanners that are out there for Windows users, there do not appear to be any for Mac OS X. Now that is tragic.