One of the most popular Windows operating systems is about to be retired at the beginning of next year, and it could have a major impact on data security for multiple companies.
As of May 2019, there were still 35.44% of offices using Windows 7, which is due to have all extended support stopped on January 14, 2020. This means that vital security updates and patches will no longer be automatically released, putting any computers still running the operating system (OS), and the network they’re connected to, at risk of a breach.
At Technical Evolutions we work with businesses in the Chicagoland area, including those in the financial industry, to ensure their networks are safe from viruses, malware, and data breaches that can result in the theft of sensitive client information. Our TE Security program takes care of the heavy lifting of cybersecurity offering our clients peace of mind.
One of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) cyber security regulations specific to the financial sector is Regulation S-ID (17 CFR §248.30), which outlines a firm’s obligations regarding the detection, prevention, and mitigation of identity theft. The regulation requires financial firms to:
- Insure the security and confidentiality of customer records and information;
- Protect against any anticipated threats or hazards to the security or integrity of customer records and information; and
- Protect against unauthorized access to or use of customer records or information that could result in substantial harm or inconvenience to any customer.
This would include making sure the software and operating systems you’re using have appropriate security updates installed and aren’t past end of life (EOL), where their security updates have ended.
With Microsoft ending support for Windows 7 in just a few months, any companies still running the OS on any of their devices will want to take steps now for the switch.
You don’t have to be the financial industry to be impacted… any business can suffer huge financial losses as a result of a data breach, so upgrading before mid-January of next year is a high priority for everyone.
Prepare Your Business for a Windows Upgrade with this Plan
While it can initially seem like a daunting task to undertake an organization-wide upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10, having a step-by-step plan can make the process go smoothly and help you ensure all your bases are covered before the deadline.
Our Technology Evolutions Cybersecurity Team has put together a comprehensive 5-step process to help you make sure you’re prepared and upgraded before support for Windows 7 ends.
Step 1 – Identify Computers/Laptops Running Windows 7
Your first step is to get an idea of how many PCs will need attention. You want to take a full inventory of all computers and laptops at your business and note which are running Windows 7. This is also a great time to do a full inventory and record the specs of each device to have on hand for later reference.
Don’t forget to include any devices that may not be in use at this time but could potentially be used by a new employee in the future.
Step 2 – Decide Which PCs to Upgrade and Which to Replace
Of the devices you have that are running Windows 7, check their specs against Windows 10 upgrade requirements to see which ones meet them.
For the PCs that don’t meet the Windows 10 requirements, you can choose to possibly upgrade their hardware to meet the requirements, if they’re not too old. This can mean a memory or hard drive upgrade in many cases.
For the PCs that do meet the upgrade requirements, you’ll want to separate the ones worth upgrading from the ones that are old and would need to be replaced soon anyhow, as you may just choose to replace them instead of upgrading.
Most PCs will come with Windows 10 already installed, so any that you’re replacing instead of upgrading shouldn’t need the OS purchased separately.
Step 3 – Plan the Timeline and Budget for the Upgrades & Replacements
At the end of Step 2, you should have a list of computers that will be upgraded to Windows 10 and another list of PCs that will be replaced altogether, either because they don’t meet the upgrade requirements or are so old an upgrade doesn’t make sense financially.
Your timeline and budget will include some of the following:
- Cost of the Windows 10 upgrade for computers being upgraded
- Cost of the replacement computers for those not being upgraded
- Cost of any hardware needed to upgrade computers
- Timing to minimize work disruption during the upgrade process
- Expenses spread out over your desired timeframe (by the 1/14/20 deadline)
- IT assistance to help with a smooth upgrade process (migrating data, etc.)
Step 4: Employee Training on Windows 10
For employees that haven’t used Windows 10, you’ll want to schedule training ahead of time so they can get up to speed on the new operating system. This will keep your office productive and reduce any learning curve while staff are getting used to the new user interface.
Step 5: (Last Resort) If You Need Extra Time Past the Deadline
This last additional step can be costly and is an emergency measure only If you just can’t get your Windows 7 PCs upgraded by the end of life date on January 14th.
Microsoft has recently made available an Extended Security Update (ESU) Program for Windows 7 due to its popularity. They describe it as a “last resort” for customers who need to run Microsoft products past their EOL date. It includes critical and important security updates for a maximum of three years after EOL. It must be purchased in 12-month increments through a Microsoft partner.
Get Help with a Smooth Windows 7 to 10 Migration
Are you worried that trying to upgrade from Windows 7 and run your business at the same time will be challenging? Get help from Technical Evolutions! We’ll ensure a smooth rollout that’s cost efficient and ensures your network and data stay protected.
Call 708-540-6201 or reach out online to get started.