Malware XPocalypse Looms for Windows XP Users

Microsoft will cease support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014, and disasters of biblical proportions could follow! Unprotected by continued security patches, Windows XP could become a festering wasteland where banking Trojans rob people blind, shifty criminals hijack little old ladies' computers on a whim, and innocent PCs get drafted into botnets to work at exploitative data mines all day long.

The above scenario might be a little extreme, but Windows XP users (of whom there are still a huge amount) have known since April 2013 that XP's days were numbered, and many of them have yet to switch over to Windows 7 or 8. Come April 2014, this will make Windows XP into a haven for malicious hackers, as users will have little recourse against new forms of malware.

After me, the (malware) deluge

The threat of malware is pressing. As long as Windows XP has a sizable user base, it will remain a tempting target for purveyors of harmful software. After April 2014, Windows XP will not receive any more security updates. Savvy users can still avoid and treat malware, but others will find their systems infected and have little to no recourse.

"I've heard people speculating that people developing exploits may be saving them up and waiting till after the [sundown] date," Chester Wisniewski, senior security adviser at the Canadian branch of security company Sophos, told Tom's Guide, even though he does not believe the rumors. "The guys who figure out how to exploit stuff don't write malware, don't infect websites. They just develop exploits and sell them to someone else."

One concentrated malware push might not be a problem, but a gradual buildup almost certainly will. "Every time a new problem is found, those things will build on one another, month after month, and the risk will almost increase exponentially," Wisniewski said.

Most Windows 7 and 8 bugs are based on the core Windows software, which has not changed since Windows 95. This means that when Microsoft releases patch notes for 7 and 8, it will give exploiters a number of easy new ways to compromise XP.

Three or four new bugs each month may seem harmless, but the problems will be additive; within a few months, an XP system will be vulnerable to 15 or 20 crippling flaws.

MORE: 7 Computer-Security Fixes to Make Right Now

This thread is closed for comments
    Your comment
  • chang9905
    How is Windows 7 and Windows 8's core software unchanged from Windows 95? Of course, you'd need the source code to verify, but I highly doubt that anything is untouched from those days.
  • ivyanev
    So much hatred for this old but good OS. I still use it one of mine PCs, and guess what with no anti virus I am just fine! Also I have seen enough vista and 7 machines that have so much malware (3 rows of search bars in just 1 browser just for starters) that makes the pc unresponsive/inadequate . My point- the real danger is because of the "USER" and not the OS by itself
  • Cryio
    Some of the most rock solid theories to use software is to ALWAYS use the second-last major version of a product untill a new launches.

    Say ... Windows Vista launched, but you still used Windows XP SP2 (x86).

    Then, after a few years worth of updates, you can bet Windows Vista SP2 (x64) fully patched is faster, more stable and less prone to crashes/freezes, etc than Windows 7 at launch.

    Repeat scenario for Windows 8. It just launched, good, it's a perfect time to start using Windows 7 SP1 x64.

    The last doesn't mean the best. And it's been proven time and again.
  • Ellessar
    Windows XP and newer are based on Windows NT core, while Windows 95 was 16/32bit hybrid...
  • apache_lives
    XP needs to die
  • DjEaZy
    ... there is a unofficial service pack rof Windows 98 that last was updated in 2006... so i believe, because XP is still popular and the install base is bigger then Vista and H8 combined, there will be community and antivirus vendor support...
  • ianpac
    This article is nonsense. I have been using XP SP2 for ten years and cannot remember the last time my PC was infected and I have never bothered with security patches. A good anti-virus program and HiJack This! is all you need to keep your PC clean. And a bit of common sense - ie don't download anything from a non trusted source.

    The truth is most people presently have a pirated XP copy and don't update their system so nothing will change after 2014.
  • Heironious

    That is a foolish attitude to have as ANY "trusted site" can become hacked and compromised (haven't you been keeping up with the news?). A lot of viruses are indeed, made for third party software AND outdated windows. Hell, for all we know Tomshardware could have been compromised by a virus that is just waiting for a certain version of windows that hasn't been updated to protect against said hack. No such thing as "common sense" when third party software is involed.
  • abbadon_34
    XP has been refined to SP3 ala a corporate server market. It's great, tested, stable, updated, supported, the best OS ever created. The only problem is MS stopped supporting it to encourage Win7 upgrades. Outside of 64bit, it 's the best OS that has existed.