Businesses using a popular but out-dated computer operating system will find themselves wide open to cyber attacks if they do not take action quickly, a Shropshire computer expert has warned.

All support and updates for Microsoft Windows XP will end in less than six months, leaving the system highly vulnerable to hackers and viruses said Chris Pallett, owner of Bespoke Computing in Telford.

Despite being more than 12 years old, the system remains widely used and is the second most popular operating system Microsoft has ever produced.

However, after direct retail sales of XP stopped in 2008, the company announced earlier this year(2013) that all extended support, including security and software updates, would end in April 2014.

“This means any computer still running on XP, which is the case for a large number of businesses here in Shropshire, will be left wide open to hackers and viruses with no way to protect itself,” said Mr Pallett.

“Even now, with security updates still available for a few more months, due to its age XP remains highly vulnerable to malware infection, vastly more so than Microsoft’s current operating systems.

“Businesses need to take action now. It has been suggested that as many as one in seven IT managers, let alone other senior staff, at firms running XP are not even aware that extended support will end in just a few months time, which is a worrying statistic.”

Mr Pallett advises anyone currently running Windows XP to contact a professional IT or computer firm to discuss how they could move forward and keep their systems secure.

“The good news is that there is still time to act but it is often not as simple as just upgrading to a new operating system, as many applications that run on XP will not work on Windows 7 or Windows 8,” he said.

“Our advice to any affected business who does not have its own IT department able to carry out any upgrades is to contact a reputable computer company for advice.

“We can help you find which operating system will work best for your business what can be done about those applications that will not work on current versions. In addition, if you have multiple computers, we can also advise on how to plan any upgrades with the least amount of disruption.”

For more information or advice, contact Bespoke Computing on (01952) 303404.