We are all aware of the term “use by date.” It is regularly used when talking about food and medications and refers to the date after which the product is no longer safe to consume. However, did you know that your software and hardware can expire too?
This is because technology is constantly evolving and advancing. What was once cutting-edge can become obsolete in the blink of an eye.
While many people may not think twice about using outdated technology, it has security and privacy implications for your business. Obsolete technology is often less secure than newer versions because it doesn’t receive modern security features or patches from the manufacturer’s support team. This can leave your device and your data less impervious to attacks. Plus, outdated technology may not be compliant with current privacy regulations, meaning your data could be at risk.
So, what does this mean for you and your organization? Staying up to date with the latest software programs and hardware is crucial. To protect your business from the downfall of outdated technology, you need a plan for when your systems reach their expiration date.
The Dangers of Running Outdated Software
Your software is only as good as its last patch. Reaching End of Life (EoL) or End of Service (EoS) means critical patches and updates are no longer available, leaving you vulnerable to various problems.
Some make the mistake of not rushing to upgrade the software because it is still functional. However, outdated software can lead to security risks, data loss, compliance issues and more.
Implications of using outdated software
The implications of running outdated software can be divided into three categories:
Using outdated software can have severe security implications, such as:
You no longer receive security patches from the vendor, leaving your system vulnerable to known exploits.
· Threat actors may have already reverse-engineered the software and developed exploit code, making it easier for them to compromise your system.
· Running outdated software may cause compatibility issues with other software and hardware, leading to data loss or corruption.
· Using outdated software may violate your organization's security policies, hindering a secure future and operational excellence.
Privacy implications of using outdated software can be severe. If the software is no longer supported by its vendor and contains sensitive information, you could be at risk of receiving a data privacy fine.
For example, in the United States, the Federal Trade Commission is taking action against Chegg Inc. for failing to patch vulnerabilities that exposed sensitive information about millions of its customers and employees, such as Social Security numbers, email addresses and passwords. Chegg allegedly couldn’t address problems despite four security breaches over a five-year period.
According to the FTC's proposed order, the company must immediately address vulnerabilities and take additional steps, such as limiting the amount of data it can collect and retain, providing users with multifactor authentication to secure their accounts, and allowing users to access and delete their data.*
Outdated software can have severe productivity implications for a business. For example, if the software runs slowly, crashes frequently or is otherwise difficult to use, it can frustrate employees and disrupt workflows. This can, in turn, lead to a poor customer experience, damaging a company's reputation and bottom line. Therefore, it is important to keep software up to date to avoid these problems.
4 Practical Steps to Take When Hardware and Software Expire
When a software or hardware product reaches its End of Life (EoL) or End of Service (EoS), it's no longer supported by the manufacturer. This can be a cause of concern for organizations like yours because unsupported technologies have no routine internal security measures or support from the manufacturer.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to mitigate the risks that come with EoL software/hardware and protect your business. Read on further to learn about them or give our IT specialist a call today.
Although there may be a sufficiently large list of practical steps, the four most impactful ones are:
Organizations need to prioritize security immediately after identifying EoL software/hardware. Work with a reputable vendor who can provide essential security protocols and tools to keep your data safe. Also, create a plan to keep any potential security risks at a minimum.
This might include implementing additional security measures, such as two-factor authentication or increased monitoring of high-risk areas. By taking these precautions, you can ensure your organization's data is protected against threats.
As your software/hardware nears the end of its life, it’s crucial to measure its productivity so that your organization doesn’t suffer. Here are a few things you can do to minimize any negative impact on your organization:
· Keep track of the software/hardware performance. This will help you identify if any issues escalate.
· Ensure employees who use it are aware of its status. This will help them be more receptive if there are any problems.
· Have a contingency plan in case the software/hardware completely fails. This will help you avoid any major disruptions to your organization.
Evaluate long-term needs
When planning for the future, it’s critical to consider the long-term viability of your essential systems. What are your objectives, and which systems are crucial to achieving them?
Evaluating the risks of using EoL systems is a vital step when deciding whether to upgrade. What are the consequences of continuing to use an outdated system? What are the chances the consequences will happen, and how severe would they be?
Taking these factors into account can assist you in making the best decision for your organization, ensuring you have the right systems in place to support your goals.
Test compatibility before migration
The EoL date for a system can be months or years in the future; however, planning for the migration should begin well before that date. By doing so, you can avoid any disruptions that may occur during the migration process.
Testing compatibility is one of the first steps in migrating to a new system. You must ensure all your data and applications can be transferred to the new system. Setting up a test environment and running some tests is the best way to accomplish this.
Collaborate for success
It must be clear by now that EoL/EoS software and hardware can pose several risks to your organization. Implementing all the practical steps listed above to avoid these risks can be overwhelming if you don't have assistance. This is where an IT service provider like us can come in handy.
We can use our experience and skills to show you the right way to secure your business and provide you with the necessary tools so you won’t be caught off guard by outdated software or hardware. To learn more, feel free to contact us today.