The Dangers of Running an OS Beyond End of Life

 
 
By Karen A. Frenkel  |  Posted 09-02-2015 Email
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    The Dangers of Running an OS Beyond End of Life
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    The Dangers of Running an OS Beyond End of Life

    With the end of support for Windows Server 2003, Symantec offers tips for migrating from Windows Server 2003 that help safeguard data and maintain compliance.
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    Risks of Not Migrating
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    Risks of Not Migrating

    Running Windows Server 2003 past Microsoft's end-of-support puts entire enterprise environments at risk of cyber-attacks; systems could become unstable due to compatibility with newer hardware and software, and organizations could face compliance issues.
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    Buttress the Security You Have
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    Buttress the Security You Have

    It can take 200 days to migrate systems off Server 2003. In the meantime, harden your system running Server 2003 by deploying solutions that will continue to support Server 2003 and lock down applications running on legacy systems. That is more secure and cost-effective than a Custom Support Agreement.
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    Map It Out
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    Map It Out

    Because enterprise environments sprawl across fragmented environments and geographies, companies may be unaware that they use Windows Server 2003. Assess your entire environment to capture a full picture of systems that need to be migrated and develop a plan accordingly.
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    Complete a Pilot Migration
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    Complete a Pilot Migration

    Consider running a pilot migration to work out pain points in a controlled environment. Small, remote environments are best for a pilot migration, and it's critical to involve both IT and users.
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    Update the Certificate Infrastructure
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    Update the Certificate Infrastructure

    If you are using a Windows Server 2003 certificate authority or struggling with the transition from SHA-1 to SHA-2 certificates, consider an alternative solution that's easier to manage. Find solutions that can strengthen the company's security, while reducing the complexities of managing an on-premise CA.
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    Back It Up
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    Back It Up

    Before migration, back up your data to ensure that critical information is safe should something go wrong during the migration process. Also consider updating storage systems to newer physical servers, virtual servers or the cloud.
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    Know Your Compliance and Regulatory Requirements
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    Know Your Compliance and Regulatory Requirements

    If your organization stores sensitive data you may be required to use supported operating systems per local or national compliance requirements, such as HIPAA or Payment Card Industry Security Standards.
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    Secure Applications During Migration
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    Secure Applications During Migration

    To minimize downtime and enable a more budget-friendly migration schedule, consider using Host-based IPS/IDS solutions to harden the unsupported servers, monitor any activities in the application and OS kernels, and lock down admin and access rights to the critical application on these unsupported servers.
 

Microsoft recently cut ties with Windows Server 2003, ending security and compliance updates for the widely used enterprise operating system. Despite the risks, 61 percent of businesses continue to use Server 2003 according to a recent SpiceWorks report. Migrating an enterprise to a new operating system presents many challenges, but they pale in comparison to the cost and resources to maintain and protect an outdated platform. "Running OSes past their end of life increases exposure to cyber-attacks that exploit vulnerabilities, data breaches and loss of critical data, and violations of industry security regulations," said Vivian Tero, senior product marketing manager, Data Center Security at Symantec. She recommends three approaches: Partner with a vendor that can assist with a seamless transition to a new OS, use host-based server hardening to lock down the OS, application, and admin rights while monitoring all activities in the platform, and ensure that data to be migrated or protected is properly backed up. Symantec offers eight Windows Server 2003 end-of-support tips for migrating smoothly and securely.

 
 
 
 
 
Karen A. Frenkel writes about technology and innovation and lives in New York City.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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