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Upgrade Your Windows 7 Devices Now

If your organization is running Microsoft Windows 7 on any device, it’s time for an upgrade to Windows 10.

Microsoft ended service for the Windows 7 operating system on January 14, 2020. As a result, there is no more support. No updates. No patches. No new technical library information.

This lack of ongoing protection leaves organizations running Windows 7 more vulnerable to attacks, while also putting confidential data at risk. In other words, staying on Windows 7 opens a world of danger – do so at your own peril.

Potential Compliance, Security Problems

In heavily regulated industries like healthcare and finance, compliance is critical. When outdated and unsupported technology like Windows 7 is used, compliance can be jeopardized, putting organizations and their customers at risk.

In healthcare, using Windows 7 could violate the law. The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires stringent protection of electronic patient data, meaning healthcare organizations need to be running a supported operating system (OS).

Companies involved in credit card transactions could also violate the compliance standards of the payment card industry (PCI) by continuing to run Windows 7. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) compliance requires organizations to follow strict technical and operational standards. Any machine running Windows 7 will not adhere to those standards, exposing customer data and subjecting organizations to potential multi-million dollar fines.

That’s enough incentive to move to Windows 10. But there are other compelling reasons too.

Security is one. Using an unsupported operating system exposes an organization to many potential security vulnerabilities. Devices with outdated technology are easy targets for data breaches and other cyberattacks including viruses and ransomware.

There also can be technical problems like incompatibility with other software, which creates another major risk. What would happen if a key system in your organization didn’t work? There could be delays, business interruptions, problems for customers and more.

In short, upgrading to Windows 10 is critical.

Moving to Windows 10

To get started, you’ll need IT expertise. Engage with a managed service provider or other IT solutions provider up front. They need to be on board from the beginning.

From there, the goal is to move your organization to Windows 10 as seamlessly and quickly as possible. Phased approaches often work well for these types of migrations. Here’s a general plan:

  1. First choose a pilot group of machines to upgrade and test
  2. Back up all data stored on the pilot group
  3. If possible, upgrade operating systems during off hours to minimize downtime
  4. Migrate backed up data to the upgraded pilot group of machines
  5. As migrations succeed, roll out to the rest of organization

Upgrading to Windows 10 will significantly improve your organization’s stability and security posture. Perhaps most importantly, your organization will be better positioned for the future.

But let’s be clear, being on Windows 10 won’t mitigate all risks.

Bad Actors Never Rest

Safeguarding against attacks is an ongoing effort, which is why so many organizations partner with outside IT expertise. Technological risk never subsides.

In fact, the Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently issued an emergency directive. It calls for updates to protect against newly discovered vulnerabilities that allow for data manipulation/theft on supported Windows systems, including Windows 10.

The bulletin is aimed at government agencies. But in a related blog post, CISA “strongly urged” the same actions for government partners, the private sector, and the American public in general. So, if you use a PC running Windows, you should act.

The fact remains, organizations must always be on alert for bad actors and the danger they can inflict. That’s where Rehmann can help. We offer comprehensive IT services, including Windows 10 migrations, HIPAA/PCI compliance and more. Contact us today to get started.

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