Security flaws, and lack of compliance expose Windows 2003 to cyber threats

Blog by: John Rider, Pre-sales Architect - 30-Apr-2018

Microsoft hit the headlines when it withdrew support for Windows Server 2003 (WS2003) way back in July 2015. Even now, despite the constant warnings by tech analysts and subject matter experts, there are many companies who haven’t upgraded their 2003 servers. According to Spiceworks, an online community for IT professionals, the WS2003 operating system still enjoys a market share of 17.9%. Also, Internet service firm Netcraft reports that there are 600,000 web-facing servers still running on WS2003, and 175 million websites are served by WS2003. In addition, there are 1.7 million back-end systems running on WS2003.

If you haven’t moved off of Windows Server 2003 since it reached end-of-life, you’re leaving yourself wide open to security breaches that can cripple your business.

What are the biggest risks with continuing to run Windows Server 2003?

  1. No security updates:

‘Support’ usually relates to automatic fixes, updates or online technical assistance, but the most critical part of ‘support’ is security. When a product is no longer supported by Microsoft then you no longer receive any security updates and patches. 

Without protection from viruses, spyware, malware and other malicious attacks, even amateur hackers can find a way into your business and compromise your system – let alone the career hackers that are increasingly active.

  1. Your OS is not an island:

A compromised Windows Server 2003 operating system could open the door for hackers to access other systems in your data centre for the purpose of launching attacks against them. Also, if your third-party business applications code support is tied to the status of the underlying operating system, that support may suffer if you continue to run those apps under Windows Server 2003.

  1. Compliance issues:

Companies in many industries – financial and healthcare, in particular – are dealing with sensitive customer data, and much of it is subject to either industry body or government regulations around privacy and security. When the Windows Server 2003 extended support cycle ended these companies are potentially non-compliant and may fail audits.

  1. Wasted resources:

A company that expends resources and pounds on mitigation strategies to secure the aged OS could lose focus on overall enterprise and data security whilst spending budget that could be used for migration.

The easiest way to migrate?

A well-plotted and well-executed move from Windows Server 2003 to the latest generation server OS is also a move that will keep your business current with security updates, with third-party application support, and with compliance requirements, and at the same time save your company from spending money and time on stopgap measures. IT service and solutions providers, such as Adept4 can be a big help, also aiding in ensuring that your move will take place without data loss. Your IT service provider or business app vendors can also address any concerns related to running old apps on a new OS, or suggest alternate options. 

Many companies have also taken the leap to cloud solutions when they’ve migrated from Windows Server 2003. By outsourcing the hosting and support of your systems, you don’t have to take on the administrative expertise or hardware costs. Everything is provided and the migration is performed by certified specialists who can perform the update correctly the first time and help enhance your user adoption with the new version.

Next steps?

If you’d like to speak to one of our consultants about migrating from Windows Server 2003 click here


Topics: Security, Windows server

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