Windows Server 2003 support ends, creating cybersecurity risks for networks that haven’t upgraded
by Ingram Micro, 2015
Windows Server 2003 has been a stable workhorse in many IT departments for the last several years. It is no wonder then, that in many companies, upgrading away from Server 2003 has not been a top priority. Add to that the sheer number of mission critical applications, functions and roles that may be running on top of those servers, and migration becomes not only a low priority, but undesirable all together.
HP reports that more than 11 million systems are still out there running Windows Sever 2003. Unfortunately, for these businesses, time is running out. Support from Microsoft ends in totality on July 14, 2015 for Windows Server 2003.
“When updates for server 2003 are discontinued, security certification is sure to fail”
It is tempting to ignore the coming end of life date and just keep running Windows Server 2003 in the data center. After all, one of the reasons many are reluctant to upgrade is because this operating just runs so well, with so few problems after years of production. Unfortunately, this can no longer be ignored.
“Unsupported software is exposed to an elevated risk to cyber security dangers such as malicious attacks or electronic data loss.” – U.S. Department of Homeland Security / Alert TA14-310A
What does end of support mean?
“After July, all the lifelines that served so well for all of those years are severed, and IT departments are on their own, or at the mercy of expensive third-party support or worse- stuck in limbo as business operations come to a screeching halt”
End of support means many things. First and foremost, no support means that no one at Microsoft will be available for support calls, emails, or even TechNet updates. Just because things are working today doesn’t mean that will always be the case. Hardware fails and has to be replaced. Newer components mean new drivers, new settings, and new configurations, and the hardware manufacturer will retire drivers for outdated operating systems, leaving you in the cold. Software needs updates, databases need tuning. With every change comes the increasing possibility that something will go wrong.
Do those new drivers conflict somehow? Is there something about that hard drive, or that memory module that causes an issue? As frustrating as Microsoft support can be, at least there is always someone to look at the memory dump, trace, or logs to see if there is something wrong. Just as often as not, the help comes not directly, but with a pointer to what the actual issue may be. If all that fails, there are always the trusty support tools like TechNet. Unfortunately, that won’t be updated for Server 2003 either. Does that new entry only affect Server 2008, or could it pertain to your servers as well? The only option is to blindly try it.
Even if nothing goes wrong, another critical issue is that Microsoft will no longer supply any updates of any kind for Server 2003. This includes not only all of those bug fixes, and patches that IT loves to hate, it also means no security updates either. Even Microsoft security products like System Center Endpoint Protection on Windows Server 2003 will not get updates. The security world moves pretty fast, and hackers, it often seems, move faster. As security definitions and malware updates age, new vulnerabilities pile up. It is a double-edged sword.
“Without proper updates, systems will be unprotected. Even worse, once those vulnerabilities are exposed, they could be exploited for months, or even years before being detected.”
What steps should your company take?
Now is the time to contact trusted technology partners like i-Tech Support are and get the ball rolling. Their technology experts are trained and certified to assess your current network and advise you on the critical steps necessary to migrate. It isn’t going to get any easier as time passes. Here are some free resources and steps you can take advantage of:
- Download a FREE whitepaper from Ingram Micro to learn more about the upcoming Windows Server 2003 End of Support.
- Get a FREE Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2Standard License ($878.99 value) from i-Tech Support with any upgrade project through July 31st, 2015
- Contact i-Tech Support for a FREE 24-point Network Assessment and Migration Consultation. Call 407-215-1255 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Request a free migration consultation:
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Copyright 2015 Ingram Micro. Republished with permission from IngramMicro. i-Tech Support is a technology partner with Ingram Micro serving businesses in Central and Sourtheast Florida.
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