Hackers discover way to trick Microsoft into continuing to support Windows XP after updates ceased.
Microsoft has warned against using a hack that allows Windows XP to continue to receive important security updates after Microsoft withdrew support in April.
The hack tricks Microsoft’s update servers into applying security patches to Microsoft’s 13-year-old Windows XP. A small change within Windows XP makes it appear as other versions of Windows that are still supported until 2019.
Microsoft warned that Windows XP customers may face problems if they install the updates. “The security updates that could be installed are intended for Windows Embedded and Windows Server 2003 customers and do not fully protect Windows XP customers,” Microsoft said in a statement released to ZDnet. “Windows XP customers also run a significant risk of functionality issues with their machines if they install these updates, as they are not tested against Windows XP.”
The UK government paid £5.5m to extend support for Windows XP for one year to allow the public sector more time to migrate to Windows 7 or other supported software. Other countries including the Netherlands also negotiated similar deals with Microsoft.
An Internet Explorer security bug that was actively being used by hackers to gain control of Windows computers came just days after Microsoft ceased security support updates for Windows XP, emphasising the importance of continued security updates for crucial software.
Microsoft later reneged on its support withdrawal and fixed the bug in Internet Explorer on Windows XP. Security experts warned that this would just be the start and that Windows XP users should upgrade their software to a currently supported system like Windows 7, but at the very least should switch to a browser like Google’s Chrome or Firefox that is actively supported.
An estimated 430m PCs were still running some version of Windows XP at the point at which Microsoft withdrew support. In the UK, Windows XP was still used on 17% of computers four weeks later according to data from security firm Secunia.