Obsolescence is a serious risk. Would you fly in an aircraft that was three years past its maintenance cycle? The same principle applies to computer hardware. Aging hardware and software not only puts a single system at risk, but could also put everyone else on your network at risk too.
Old hardware can create vulnerabilities that online criminals can take advantage of to breach systems. Not only do you have to worry about individuals creating windows of opportunity, but now there’s the chance that by simply using your software or equipment—because it’s outdated—could be creating weak spots for hackers to exploit in your network security.
The longer a piece of software or hardware has been available to the public, the longer digital criminals have had to find their weaknesses, and the less likely you’ll be able to protect yourself against their intrusions.
Most major software vendors publish their support life cycle and end-of-life policies, so customers are aware of the date at which the product will cease to receive periodic updates such as security patches, or support is gradually phased out. This makes it easier to plan and manage a technology refresh well in advance.
Just because it works, doesn’t mean it’s at its best. You may feel it’s hard to justify splashing out on new hardware, but older laptops and desktops don’t work with many new security updates, and don’t support measures such as comprehensive encryption or advanced authentication. Not to mention that hardware over three years old costs significantly more to maintain and can hinder your productivity.
A common reason for resisting migration to the most recent and secure technology is, of course, cost. But failure to do so in an age of increasing digital information vulnerability is a false economy.
Policies protect you, and not only at your job. Weinberg College IT understands the ever evolving technology landscape, and along with it, the risks of security threats that result from outdated hardware and software. Therefore, our hardware and software support policies are designed to ensure that Northwestern University’s data, network, and end-user privacy remain compliant, and the risk of a breach remain low.
Do you have an old computer sitting on your desk at home? How confident are you that everything is secure on it? The same approach that IT departments have should be taken and applied at home when it comes to computer obsolescence. Yes, your children may use the computer only for gaming or word processing, but did you know that those games are still open to the world, and lurkers are plentiful, looking for potential vulnerabilities. So, always make sure your systems are up to date with security patches, that you have a backup plan in place. And, if it’s too old, replace it.