Windows 7 has reached end-of-life: Now what?

August 12, 2020
Microsoft ended support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. Columnist James Ford of Intact offers some migration tips for Microsoft shops looking to modernize securely. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
  1. Embrace next-generation cloud computing. Today, businesses know that the cloud stands as the future of commercial software. As 32-bit computing gives way to 64-bit, we find ourselves at an inflection point with legacy systems and how they will move to the cloud. There will be no more security patches for Windows 7, leaving machines and applications vulnerable. Windows 10, the likely new destination for Windows 7 shops, runs on a 64-bit operating system. This next-generation computing will not accommodate applications built for 32-bit machines. IT staffs face largescale business continuity issues, leaving them with a choice to carry on working with an insecure operating system or recreating the app for modern computing using cloud services or web solutions. We understand that budgets are tight, but organizations can’t maintain security under these new end-of-life conditions.
  2. Take control of your data.  Gartner estimates that 99 percent of the vulnerabilities that hackers exploit are already known to security and IT professionals. There’s a huge wave of applications in which security and IT pros know there are problems, but they don’t have the time or resources to recreate them on Windows 10. However, by centrally procuring and deploying solutions, developers can update their own apps and help the business maintain central control of security policies and data.
  3. Go after the shadow IT.  Business organizations use shadow IT to recreate the legacy application experience, but in online, unsecure environments. For instance, not all businesses are ready-to-go when it’s time for a necessary update or change of the operating system. Existing 32-bit applications have a very high chance of not working on new, updated 64-bit machines. Often, the IT team has no time to make the fix, or it’s simply not in the budget, so the business team finds its own solution. They export the necessary data, import somewhere else, often in an unsecure and non-compliant place, and get back to work. There are millions of apps exported to online cloud apps and when this happens, the business no longer has any insight or control of the data and security and compliance risks are opened. If businesses install a centralized, no-code application modernization and building solution, users can securely migrate their application to a modern application and get on with their work. 
  4. Look to the future. Make sure there’s a future-proof cloud app deployed in the business, so users can keep data secure, compliant and inside the company’s control. By procuring a cloud-based product that reassures the security and stability of your team’s applications, it also unearths a huge data opportunity that’s been previously unreachable. Legacy applications maintain data and its context on local machines, so by upgrading these apps to a solitary cloud app, it brings all data into a single location for future analysis, consolidation and further innovation.
  5. Focus on application security. The company needs to have breach detection and log-in controls placed on any data in the business. This makes the organization’s valuable information difficult to access and eliminates any liability concerns because the company has made a good-faith effort to protect the data. Hackers often attack the application level. Once that happens, there’s no security attached to the application itself, making all of the attached data available. If the applications have been connected to any larger databases, this also gives the hackers a gateway to that data. 
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