What are the risks of running end-of-life software?

working to death business mans skeleton using laptop in office.jpg s1024x1024wisk20cUV0v D05FYGX9GwR2RMuwTQS7FNrnTENFTMHOMtAkoA | What are the risks of running end-of-life software?
By Anthony Wolny | 12th December 2022 | 3 min read

Technology moves so quickly, so it’s no surprise that vendors can’t provide infinite support and updates for their products; often, vendors set a date for the final software updates and patches.

It can be tempting to keep using the software after this date – especially if you’ve been relying on it for years.

However, outdated software puts your business at a huge risk when it comes to security, compliance and performance.

In this article, we uncover the risks of using outdated software and outline best practices.

Software: what is end-of-life (EOL)?

End-of-life ( EOL) is the date when a vendor will no longer support a product, such as software and hardware – typically, this means they will not provide technical support, updates/patches or upgrades.

In some cases, some level of security support can be provided, but this is vendor-dependent.

Microsoft typically set the end-of-life to be five years after the release of a new version of an operating system.

However, for the next five years, the product will enter an ‘Extended Support’ period, whereby they will provide security and reliability updates but no new features or functionality.

The three major Microsoft products that recently have reached end-of-life and end of their extended support period, or will soon, are:

  • SQL Server 2012 no longer received security or reliability updates since July 12 2022
  • Windows 8.1 no longer receive security or reliability updates after January 10 2023
  • Windows Server 2012 no longer receive security or reliability updates after October 9 2023

The risks of running end-of-life software

If your business is running on any EOL systems that no longer receive support, it’s important to understand the risks involved.

Increased cybersecurity risks

Once a product has reached EOL, the vendor will not release security patches, even if a vulnerability is found, significantly increasing the chances of falling victim to a cyberattack.

It’s common for cybercriminals to shift their focus to EOL software, as they know organisations running the software will be easy targets.

Also, note that it’s not just devices running end-of-life software that are at risk.

If a server running SQL Server 2012 is compromised, the malware can move laterally across the network, infecting other devices running newer operating systems.

Don’t fall prey to a cyberattack as the repercussions can be severe; businesses that suffer attacks due to running EOL software often face increased scrutiny and loss of reputation, as it’s common knowledge that they should have already upgraded.

Legal and regulatory risk

Using end-of-life software can result in legal action and hefty fines as it means your business isn’t compliant.

The most common form of non-compliance concerning EOL software is GDPR.

Under GDPR, businesses are required to assess and mitigate risks relating to personal data.

If businesses continue to use end-of-life software, they are substantially increasing their probability of a cyberattack, breaching GDPR.

If a server running Windows Server 2012 is hacked after October 9, 2023, and it results in personal data being compromised, a business will face the heaviest fines under GDPR.

This is also true for many other regulatory bodies, where running EOL software means your business will be non-compliant.

Poor performance and reliability

End-of-life products typically result in poor performance and reliability, which can increase operating costs, require far more IT support and lead to downtime, all of which impact revenue.

Issues will likely not be obvious as soon as the EOL date is reached, but over time, they will become clear.

Servers eventually become slower, which is only compounded by the fact that the hardware will also be outdated and sluggish.

While end-user devices, such as laptops, running outdated versions of Windows may result in newer applications not being compatible.

How IRIS can help

At IRIS, we offer various options to rectify unsupported software, whether that’s sorting your on-premise server, moving you to our IRIS Hosted Desktop on our private cloud or to our IRIS Anywhere Virtual Desktop solution on Microsoft Azure cloud.

All our solutions are fully managed and supported by our dedicated IT support teams, giving you the confidence needed.

To find out more, contact us today.