As many companies look at a Windows 10 migration, it's important for IT administrators to remember Windows 7 security.
It's been just over a year since Microsoft officially ceased mainstream Windows 7 sales, and extended support for the OS ends in 2020. Windows 7 has been deeply ingrained in enterprise networks for years, and businesses are settled in with Windows 7, but Father Time shuffles ahead. Given the widespread distaste for Windows 8, many companies are already moving toward Windows 10. But with attention focused on the latest and greatest OS, where does this leave Windows 7 security over the next few years? Will it continue getting the attention it always has, or will it end up overlooked and ignored like Windows Sever 2003?
Keeping Windows 7 secure -- even with a Windows 10 migration on the horizon -- remains critical.
Windows 7 security mistakes to avoid
One thing I've observed over the years is that as businesses move from one OS to another, they fail to address the pressing needs of the previous version in favor of just moving everyone to the new one. The thought process is often, "We'll just standardize everything on the new version."
We all know what happens in reality: Upgrades to the new OS always take longer than expected, and they're usually more difficult than IT originally thought. If there were gaps in the old OS's malware protection or it was behind on patches, IT must still address those original holes. With all the focus on a Windows 7 to Windows A10 migration however, the original pressing issues with Windows 7 security become backburner items that may never receive the attention they need.
I also see a similar approach to security documentation. The thought is often that once the new OS is deployed, shops can get caught up and make everything uniform. Many policies, standards and procedures have no real substance and exist to merely please auditors, but ignoring them while in the process of an upgrade is a bad idea. All it takes is one breach for someone to dig into OS configurations, new and old. It's critical for admins to write down the processes they followed and actually do what those notes say. Administrators should write down everything about malware protection, passwords, system logging and monitoring they do -- for Windows 10 and Windows 7.
I've long believed that the latest isn't always the greatest. I've experienced this with the computer nonsense built into modern automobiles and even the most recent albums from my long-time favorite bands. It certainly applies to computer software and operating systems.
Although I think Windows 10 is going to be the next big desktop OS for business, IT administrators must maintain their existing security standards and control to keep Windows 7 in check. It will continue being a target for malware and attacks even long after support stops in a few years.
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