London Met Police’s 18,000 Windows XP PCs is a disaster waiting to happen

June 28, 2017

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The majority of PCs used by the London Metropolitan Police are still running Windows XP, which has been completely unsupported since 2014. The London Metropolitan Police are still using around 18,000 PCs powered by Windows XP which truly is a horrifying number. The police force has already started upgrading its PCs from Windows XP — but rather than upgrading to Windows 10, the force is upgrading the PCs to Windows 8.1 instead. The force was initially planning to get all of the Windows XP PCs to Windows 8 by March 2016 but that was a failed attempt.

Right now, more than 14,000 PCs are powered by Windows 8.1 at the London Metropolitan Police service. And what about Windows 10? Only 8 PCs at the police force are powered by the most secure version of Windows right now. Steve O’Connell, the spokesman of the 0Conservative London Assembly said in a statement:

“The Met is working towards upgrading its software, but in its current state it’s like a fish swimming in a pool of sharks. It is vital the Met is given the resources to step up its upgrade timeline before we see another cyber-attack with nationwide security implications.”

From the looks of things, the London Metropolitan Police will continue to upgrade their systems to Windows 8.1 at the moment. Windows 8.1 is still being supported by Microsoft, although the mainstream support for the OS is set to end on the 9 January 2018. Microsoft will offer extended support for the OS until 2023, which means Windows 8.1 is still a much more secure alternative for the Metropolitan Police than Windows XP. Windows 10 still would have been the best option in terms of security, however. Microsoft is releasing security updates for the OS every month, and the new advanced security features like Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection makes PCs running Windows a whole lot more secure.

18,000 PCs running Windows XP is still quite horrifying — especially considering all the recent ransomware attacks. Just yesterday, the “Petya” ransomware attacked PCs and big organizations all around the world. And let’s not forget the impact of WannaCry, which took down the majority of the systems at the UK’s National Health Service. Like the NHS UK’s police service also has access to a large amount of private information about the citizens of London, and running a completely outdated version of the OS not only opens the service and Londoners up to random hacks but also specific attacks by malicious forces.

Let’s hope the service gets their cyber-ducks in order before they have a major incident rather than after.

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