The FBI warns agencies of increased security risks affecting the computer network infrastructure because Appliances still running Windows 7, after the operating system reached the end of its support on January 14. In particular, the FBI stated in its relevant announcement that it noticed that the cybercriminals target the computer network infrastructure after an operating system completes its "life cycle". He noted that continuing to use Windows 7 could help cybercriminals obtain access in his computer systems. In addition, the FBI has pointed out that over time, Windows 7 becomes more vulnerable to exploitation and attacks due to a lack of security updates, and many new ones have been discovered. vulnerabilities in these.
After reaching the end of their support earlier this year, Windows 7 no longer downloads for free updates software and security updates or fixes, unless customers subscribe to the Extended Security Update (ESU) program which will allow them to receive security updates for an additional three years. The Extended Security Update program Available for Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise, and Windows 7 Ultimate only through licensing programs, and does not include or provide customers with new possibilities, non-security updates requested by the user or design change requests.
Although Microsoft claims that the free upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7 was only available until July 29, 2016, the free upgrades in Windows 10 are still available if you follow the step-by-step Windows 10 upgrade process that includes running Media creation tool and select “Upgrade this computer now” on computers running Windows 7.
Organizations need to upgrade computers running Windows 7
The FBI warns that a supported operating system is the best way to mitigate recently discovered security vulnerabilities, as it automatically receives security updates as soon as they are released by the vendor. Although the relocation process raises many issues, including its cost software and hardware, these barriers are negligible compared to the security risks that organizations will face if they do not upgrade their systems.
The FBI explains that there have been numerous system breaches in the healthcare industry due to the fact that an operating system had reached the end of its support. In addition, he added that after the "end of life" of Windows XP on April 28, 2014, the healthcare industry saw a large increase in files exposed the following year.
Organizations that cannot immediately update Windows 7 computers with a supported operating system are advised to obtain the following defensive measures to protect their networks from possible attacks:
• Ensure that anti-virus, spam filters and firewalls are up to date, properly configured and secure.
• Check network configurations and isolate computer systems that cannot be updated.
• Check your network for RDP-enabled systems, close unused RDP ports, apply 2-factor authentication (XNUMXFA) where possible, and record RDP connection attempts.
Defects in Windows 7 that have been exploited by previous attacks
Some vulnerabilities that affected Windows 7 and were fixed by Microsoft, have been used by threatening agents in attacks targeting vulnerable devices connected to the Internet. Among them, the FBI cited the critical vulnerability in executing remote code BlueKeep (RCE) affecting her Windows Remote Desktop Services (RDS) platform, set by Microsoft in May 2019. It also noted the WannaCry ransomware used by ETERNALBLUE exploit and DOUBLEPULSAR Windows kernel Ring-0 exploit to spread and infect more than 57.000 devices worldwide in 2017.
Microsoft fixed the vulnerability exploited by ETERNALBLUE in March 2017, but it did not stop the attacks because Windows 7 users failed to update their systems in a timely manner, and then 98% of the systems infected with WannaCry They used Windows 7-based operating systems. Finally, since few have the ability to maintain a patched Windows 7 system after its end, cybercriminals will continue to see Windows 7 as an "easy" target.