– No, Government Computers Won’t Suddenly Be Vulnerable To Hackers On April 8; They Already Are (TechDirt, March 17, 2014):
The Washington Post has an article about how, even though it’s long been known that Microsoft is sunsetting support for Windows XP on April 8th of this year, about 10% of US government computers still run XP. Because of this, the article declares that government computers running Windows XP will be vulnerable to hackers after April 8. While technically true (they will be vulnerable after April 8th) what would be a hell of a lot more true is to actually note that they’re extremely vulnerable to hackers today and have been just as vulnerable for years. Microsoft sunsetting its support doesn’t change that one way or the other.
What’s incredible, is that for all the FUD being spread around by government officials about “cyberwar,” “cyberattacks” and “cybersecurity,” you’d think that getting the government’s own house in order would be more of a priority. Outgoing NSA boss General Keith Alexander keeps claiming that he needs more access to private networks to protect them from foreign hackers (yeah, right), and yet this report notes that all sorts of classified government material is sitting on Windows XP computers.
That includes thousands of computers on classified military and diplomatic networks, U.S. officials said. Such networks have stronger defenses generally but hold more sensitive material, raising the stakes for breaches if they occur.
Given how sophisticated the NSA’s abilities are to infiltrate just about any computer out there, as revealed by multiple documents leaked by Ed Snowden, you’d think that the NSA would be a bit more proactive in helping to shore up our own defenses by doing things like no longer using Windows XP.