Today (January 12th, 2016) Microsoft is releasing the final security patches for Internet Explorer versions 8, 9, and 10 - as well as a final update for the original version of Windows 8.0.
If you are still using these browsers (or Windows 8.0) - do yourself a favor and UPGRADE today.
Microsoft announced that this day was coming 18 months ago - but a lot of people make it a habit to refuse system updates, particularly major ones.
A lot of bandwidth-limited RVers in particular keep auto-updates disabled, and it is not uncommon to let complacency take hold and to slip way out of date. Sometimes even years out of date.
But one of the best way to keep yourself protected from malicious software online is to keep your operating system and especially your web browsing software fully patched and updated.
Clinging to obsolete operating systems and browsers is a sure recipe for trouble. You can't keep putting off critical updates forever.
And for computers so old that they can not be upgraded - these computers need to be recycled ASAP.
Friends Don't Let Friends Use Windows XP
According to Ed Bott's article at ZDNet about the end of support coming to so many popular Windows browsers, as of tomorrow - somewhere between 5% and 20% of the PCs on the Internet will now be virtually wide open to hackers, spammers, spies, and all sorts of other nasties - with no further defensive fixes coming.
This is potentially hundreds of millions of computers - and even if you are fully up to date, your neighbors sharing RV park Wi-Fi may be obsolete and infected, potentially putting everyone at else on the same local network at increased risk.
In particular, it is amazing how many computers are still running Windows XP - even though Windows XP mainstream support ended in 2009, and the final "extended support" security updates were released in April 2014.
A lot of people hand off these older machines to kids or parents, thinking that these less sophisticated users can make do with older technology.
But in reality - the gift may just be a ticking time bomb.
Kids in particular may not recognize the signs of malicious software taking a foothold in their hand-me-down computer - putting both safety and privacy at risk.
If a computer is going to be connected to the Internet and used to surf the web, even if you only surf mainstream sites, it is irresponsible not to keep it up to date.
Quality Anti-Virus software can help extend the life of old PC systems some, but there is a time it becomes a battle no longer worth fighting.
If you have any friends or loved ones still using such old system software, it may be time to have a talk with them.
Security Updates Matter for RVers
Whether you are a Windows or Mac person, it is important to keep your operating system and key software up to date - especially your web browser, which is the gateway through which most malware spreads.
For RVers who keep software updates disabled - at least every few months make a point to find a free network connection at a friends house, RV park, public library, or coffee shop - and spend an afternoon getting your computers all brought up to date.
Think of it as a recurring chore that could have unpleasant side effects if delayed too long - no different than sanitizing your fresh tank, or changing the anode on your RV hot water heater.
To encourage people to stay current - Microsoft and Apple have both stopped charging for major operating system updates, and Microsoft has even gone so far as to make it almost impossible to opt-out of updates on Windows 10.
Microsoft generally provides mainstream support for 5 years after an operating system is released, and extended support with critical fixes for an additional five years.
This means that Windows XP is long ago obsolete, Windows 8.0 is now orphaned, and Windows Vista is on life support. Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and in particular Windows 10 are still being supported - as long as you have the latest service packs installed.
Apple has a less formal extended support policy in place - but Apple seems to provide security patches for the current and prior two operating system releases. This means, at the moment, OS X 10.11 (El Capitan), OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), and OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) are still viable.
If you are still running anything older that is no longer being supported, now is the time.
- Windows 10 Is Coming – With Auto-Updates That Can Not Be Stopped
- ZD Net: Windows Users Face a Dangerous World