2020-01-14: Windows 7 Security Advisory

Advisory regarding Microsoft Windows 7

On January 14th, 2020 - Microsoft Windows 7 has reached end-of-life.  What does this mean?  It means that following this date - Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates to users of Windows 7.  In this age, with all the cybersecurity threats that users face, it is no longer safe to continue to run Windows 7.

 

What has the college done to address this?

Throughout 2019 and the early part of 2020, SUNY New Paltz Information Technology Services have upgraded over 700 faculty and staff systems (desktops and laptops) from Windows 7 to Windows 10.  This has been through a combination of unattended remote upgrades, replacements of older systems, and in-person upgrades (including increasing memory and replacing older hard disks with solid state drives).  We are down to a few dozen Windows 7 systems, most of which we will finish upgrading and replacing by the end of January 2020.

There are a small number of computers using specialized hardware or software (everything from natural gas usage tracking for our heating plant, to our digital press in our print shop, to audiology laboratory systems in Communication Disorders) that do not currently function with Windows 10.  Those departments and ITS are implementing compensating controls (including extended support from Microsoft) to protect those systems while we investigate long-term solutions. 

We've started to disable college owned Windows 7 systems.  If you have a college owned Windows 7 system - contact the Service Desk for assistance.

What should faculty, staff, and students do if you are still running Windows 7 on your personal devices?

If you are still running Windows 7 on your personal devices, yoiu should upgrade to Windows 10 as soon as possible.  Microsoft still offers a free Windows 10 upgrade for Windows 7 systems.  For more information on this - we recommend you review this article: Here's how you can still get a free Windows 10 upgrade (note: this is from a third-party, ZDNet.  New Paltz ITS cannot provide technical support for these upgrades).

What are the risks if you remain on Windows 7?

In the short-term - probably not a huge difference.  Microsoft typically releases security patches once a month (on what is known as Patch Tuesday).  The latest and final Windows 7 updates were released on January 14th.  The next updates for Windows 10 come the second Tuesday of February.  Theoretically - there could be a severe security vulnerability fixed in WIndows 10 but not in Windows 7 as early as then.  Realistically - it may not be that soon, but as time goes on Windows 7 will become less and less secure, and you will put your own data and accounts (as well as any college systems you have access to) at risk.

How do I know if I'm still on Windows 7?

Microsoft is displaying the image below to users as a reminder of this.

Windows 7 out-of-support message

Details

Article ID: 95790
Created
Tue 1/14/20 9:52 AM
Modified
Tue 1/28/20 3:42 PM