As organizations strive to stay ahead in the digital race, outdated hardware could pose a significant challenge to the integrity of their cybersecurity measures.
“Just because your computer still works, if you haven’t been diligent about technology upgrades, security patching, and updating your operating system, you could have a serious security risk on your hands” says Barry Semple, VP of Information Security and Technology at Fully Managed by TELUS Business.
Why you should update your hardware
Outdated hardware can come with risks to your organization. Below, we explore some of the most prominent ones you should keep in mind.
Security vulnerabilities: Manufacturers may discontinue support for older devices, leaving them without critical security updates and patches. It’s no secret that cybercriminals look for low-hanging fruit, like easy access points to infiltrate networks and access corporate data. Leaving vulnerable devices in your organization is like leaving the door wide open to hackers and malicious threats.
In January 2020, Microsoft announced it would stop providing free security updates and support to the Windows 7 operating system. While the company might still issue the occasional critical patch, without routine updates, your devices are left unsupported and vulnerable as cybercriminals find new vulnerabilities to breach your system. Customers everywhere were urged to upgrade to Windows 10 to ensure continued security. Unfortunately, in many cases, that plea fell on deaf ears. A Lansweeper survey of 27 million Windows devices performed in October 2023 found more PCs running either XP, 7, or 8 than the number running Windows 11.
Incompatible security protocols: Outdated hardware may not support the latest security protocols and encryption standards. This can create a mismatch between the cybersecurity measures in place and the capabilities of the hardware, leaving systems susceptible to attacks that leverage outdated encryption methods.
In 2022, a Lansweeper research showed that over 42% of workstations were not eligible to be updated, and the latest data is that the number has gone down to 32%. Even though it has gone down 10%, it still is a great risk to businesses that have not kept their hardware updated.
Low productivity and processing power: To be effective and efficient, your employees need adequate equipment to do their jobs. Frustrating device sluggishness or complete downtime could mean hours, days, or weeks of lost productivity. Not to mention that as cybersecurity threats become more sophisticated, the demand for robust processing power could increase. Outdated hardware may struggle to keep up with the computational requirements of advanced security software, leaving systems susceptible to breaches. In the long run, that could cost your business much more than a device refresh.
“People need to take recommendations like the Windows 11 upgrade seriously and if their device allows it, upgrade to the latest operating system. If a device is too old to handle the upgrade, that should tell you something — time for a new device,” says Semple.
Keeping server operating systems and business applications up to date can help prevent attacks caused by viruses, malware, and ransomware. Your organization should implement measures that include:
Continuous monitoring: Monitoring and assessing hardware vulnerabilities, with regular audits and risk assessments to help identify outdated devices and prioritize their replacement or upgrade.
Integrating security measures: Organizations must integrate advanced security measures into their systems. This includes deploying intrusion detection systems, advanced firewalls, and endpoint protection tools that can adapt to the specific challenges posed by outdated hardware.
Investing in up-to-date hardware: It can help ensure compatibility with the latest security protocols and facilitates the implementation of robust security measures without compromising system performance.
Employee training:Human error remains a significant factor in cybersecurity breaches. Educating employees about the risks associated with outdated hardware and the importance of following security best practices can help to contribute to a more resilient cybersecurity posture.
Following these steps can help your organization by protecting your data, improving stability, system availability and speed, while greatly improving business processes with new functionalities.
A TELUS Business account manager or virtual CIO (vCIO) team member can help you plan for the future. It is important to have a device refresh plan in place to ensure that your organization and your team can function optimally and maintain adequate device security. We can help you determine how many devices within your organization are vulnerable and help you create a strategy for upgrades that makes sense for your business.