Defence Ministry staff still using XP

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 11:04 20/05/2014

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The Defence Ministry’s 73 staff are all using unsupported Microsoft Windows XP computers despite the potential security risks.

Microsoft stopped fully supporting XP on April 8. Microsoft New Zealand operations director Frazer Scott warned then that consumers and companies running XP were “vulnerable to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal or damage valuable information”.

Secretary of Defence Helene Quilter said the ministry had decided not to buy extended support from Microsoft which would entitle it to patches for any “critical” flaws because the employees would soon switch off XP and on to the Defence Force’s information system.

“Issues associated with use of the operating system … are mitigated due to the move and the way that the ministry’s terminals are connected and configured,” she said.

Labour information technology spokeswoman Clare Curran, who has been quizzing agencies on their continued use of XP, said the reliance of several agencies on the operating system was a real concern and the situation at the Defence Ministry was the “most serious”.

Candace Kinser, chief executive of industry body NZTech, said any risk would depend on the details, “but it would be good for them to hurry up”.

Microsoft trustworthy computing director Tim Rains said during a visit to Wellington last that using XP would become more dangerous from last , when Microsoft released a few patches for its more modern operating systems which it rated as “important”.

Hackers would try to reverse engineer any patches Microsoft issued to see if the faults they addressed could also be used to target XP, he said.

Rains said there were ways organisations could reduce the risks of running XP, such as disabling the USB ports on their computers and not using them for email and web access.

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- Stuff

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