GCHQ warns UK government agencies on end of Windows XP support

Microsoft ends its Windows XP support 61 days from today on April 8th and with just two months to go, the U.K. intelligence agency GCHQ is offering advice to other government organization on how they should handle the situation, especially if they intend to keep using PCs with the OS beyond the support cut off date.

In a page on the GCHQ site that went live this week, the agency says that while upgrading Windows XP and Office 2003, among other programs, is "strongly recommended" before Microsoft ends support, there are ways to reduce the security threat if those upgrades are not ready before April 8th. One is to edit the registry file on Windows XP machines "so that vulnerable Office components and Media Players are not registered as the default applications for the relevant file types."

GCHQ also recommends that access to removable media on Windows XP PCs should be taken out. In addition, the agency says, "It may be possible for those posture checks to enforce that no Windows XP devices can be used to remotely access corporate systems." Installing and updating antivirus programs on Windows XP PCs " will continue to be beneficial". Microsoft will keep offering antivirus signatures for Windows XP until July 2015 and most third party antivirus programs will also continue to support the OS well past its support cut off date.

Source: CGHQ | Image via Microsoft

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17 Comments

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It will die on it's own but not for another two or so years. Old machines will eventually die and be replaced with ones running more recent versions of windows.

Last time I saw XP in the wild was at the O2 shop a couple of years ago. I literally had to punch my personal information into an IE6 window. It didn't feel good.

The issue is that most government bodies have old outdated contracted national software which often doesn't support the latest versions of windows or internet explorer. A good example is we often find national applications which only support up to IE9 even now. 12 months ago that was IE7.

Until government contractors are held accountable for their poorly handled updating/coding then nothing can/will change.

The NHS Microsoft agreement was one of the largest contracts Microsoft had, the government cancelled it, but realistically the NHS couldn't take advantage of the latest and greatest from Microsoft because we were forced to have OS's 5-6 years out of date by our other 3rd party providers.

All the ATM's here (at least the like popup ones that look like old telephone box's or stand alone ones) have XP running in background.

All the NHS computers also are running Windows XP and old hardware and the NHS are facing huge cuts at the moment.

I can see some big problems arising soon.

Vester said,
All the ATM's here (at least the like popup ones that look like old telephone box's or stand alone ones) have XP running in background.

All the NHS computers also are running Windows XP and old hardware and the NHS are facing huge cuts at the moment.

I can see some big problems arising soon.

NHS computers are something different but EOL for XP isn't a problem for ATM's. You can't exactly access any inputs but the touchscreen/buttons and they're not connected to the internet but over a highly secure independent network. In Belgium many of them still run Windows 2000 or NT 4.0.

My university has rolled out Office 2010 to all machines but some still use Windows XP. Windows 7 is slowly being rolled out though but it won't be done completely in time.

Hah spies giving advice on how not to be spied on.

This reminds me of that time they brought burglars around to people's houses to tell them about the tell-tale signs they used when looking for a house to rob.

Studio384 said,
Where was the "Undock PC" button in the startscreen for? Looks like the screenshot is a beta version of XP.

If you use a docking station you will see it.

Studio384 said,
Where was the "Undock PC" button in the startscreen for? Looks like the screenshot is a beta version of XP.

Looks like a Whistler build. Definitely an incomplete Lunar theme.

Studio384 said,
Looks like the screenshot is a beta version of XP.

That's what I thought too. In RTM, All Programs never had an icon adjacent to it, WMP's icon is the icon used in Windows ME, and the stuff on the right doesn't look right at all.

Of all the pictures of Windows XP available and the length of time it's been available, Neowin chooses a beta build for the article's picture?

Time will tell if we move from XP and Office 2003 in the RAF. We have thousands of XP machines with access to the internet, the local network and access to removable media on my camp alone.

I'm surprised that with the rise of cyber threats/warfare that armed forces would take this long to get updated given the years of warning that have gone out.

McKay said,
Time will tell if we move from XP and Office 2003 in the RAF. We have thousands of XP machines with access to the internet, the local network and access to removable media on my camp alone.

RIP, RAF...