Support for Windows XP, including security updates, ends April 8, leaving thousands of federal government computers at risk. (Justin Sullivan/ / Getty Images)
Microsoft will end free support for Windows XP on April 8, leaving many government computers at greater risk of hackers.
XP, released in 2001, has been replaced three times over by later operating systems, but many older PCs still use it. According to the Washington Post, security experts believe hackers have been saving up ways to exploit vulnerabilities in the system once support ends.
“If you continue to use Windows XP after support ends, your computer should still work, but it will become five times more vulnerable to security risks and viruses,” reads a Microsoft bulletin. “And as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, a greater number of programs and devices like cameras and printers won’t work with Windows XP.”
According to the Post, about 10 percent of the federal government’s computers still use XP. “That includes thousands of computers on classified military and diplomatic networks,” wrote Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima. “Such networks have stronger defenses generally but hold more sensitive material, raising the stakes for breaches if they occur.”