After months and years of warnings, Microsoft has finally pulled the plug on XP. Here’s ZDNet’s round-up of what happens next and why you should care.

9 Tips To Help You Keep Your Windows XP Safe After End-Of-Life

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Microsoft Windows XP will no longer be receiving anymore security updates beyond April 8, 2014. What this means to most of us who are still on the 13-year-old system is that the OS will be vulnerable to hackers taking advantage of security flaws that will never be patched.

Windows XP End of Life

According to Net Applications, 30% of the world’s PCs are still running on Windows XP. That is a huge bulk of the market, a portion that cannot be neglected. Microsoft and other security vendors have been actively encouraging users to migrate to the latest OS, where security updates are regularly issued, but for some people, this is not possible.

No matter what their reasons are, even though they may run into security risk because of the ended support, there are several ways to mitigate most of risks and to reduce the chances of being attacked. Here are 9 tips to help you survive the end-of-life for Windows XP.

1. Back Up Everything, Every time

Not a tip specific to Windows XP but a valuable one nonetheless. It should be emphasize that although the tips here will help you mitigate risk, they will not eliminate them and therefore, having a regular, working backup is crucial in case anything goes wrong.

Make sure you back up what you cannot afford to lose, properly and securely if case your XP machine runs into an exploit that could corrupt your data. XP doesn’t come with its own backup tool but there are multiple ones available online.

2. Keep Your Antivirus Updated

XP may not be getting any updates anymore but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be getting antivirus updates. The majority of security vendors will still be providing update to their software running on XP, including Microsoft’s own Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE).  This won’t help you if an exploit targets a vulnerability in the operating system but will protect your system from day-to-day malware.

3. Don’t Use Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 8 was the last version of IE to be released for Windows XP. The OS never got a newer version of the web browser so XP is stuck with an outdated and unguarded attack gateway via browser.

If you are on Internet Explorer, but have the option to change to another, more modern and secure browser, consider changing to browsers like Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. Unlike IE, these browsers are still being maintained for XP and will be for the near future.

4. Remove Java, Adobe Flash and Reader

Many security breahes nowadays use third-party plugins as an attack vector, with Java, Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader being the usual suspects. If you are not using any of them on a regular basis, remove them completely and you will remove the biggest attack vector on your computer.

However, if you still need them because of the good work that they do, compromise by installing only the Java functions you need; opt for HTML5 or use click-to-flash add-ons to replace Adobe Flash and do consider third-party PDF readers that are available for free online.

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