Overcoming End Of Life Software Challenges

By Matt Thompson|3 October 2017

In this post Matt Thompson looks at the challenges presented by End of Life software, and shares why continuing to use out-of-date IT systems can put your business or organisation at risk.

Software and hardware are not designed to last forever. As technology improves and more IT vendors focus on cloud-based software, product life cycles for traditional systems and hardware will reduce.

Consequently, more companies will encounter End-of-Life (EOL) issues, which is when IT and software vendors stop delivering product support and updates, eventually making a piece of software or hardware obsolete. Depending on how popular the software or hardware, there might be some third-party support, but you can’t rely on that for mission critical systems.

Running EOL software and using outdated hardware can put your entire IT systems at considerable risk. Especially when it comes to security, which is not something organisations should be doing with the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force in May 2018.

End Of Life Software - Time To Update?

Here are a few things you really need to think about when using EOL software.

#1: No more security updates or patches

Software that is still receiving support from the vendor will have a team creating updates, improvements and security patches. Cyber threats are more prevalent than ever, which is why updates need to be implemented by an IT team or partner when they come from the software or hardware provider.

However, once a vendor informs customers that technology is reaching the end of its lifecycle, these updates and security patches will stop. Continuing to use out-of-date technology puts your customer data at risk since new cyber threats can more easily breach older systems and wreck havoc across your internal network.

Firewalls and anti-virus systems are not always able to block cyber attacks when the issue is patch updates that either have not been done or don't exist, as we saw earlier in 2017 when dozens of large organisations, including the NHS, were crippled by a ransomware attack.

#2: Legal and regulatory risks

Data protection, with GDPR coming into force, places a greater risk burden on any organisation that is responsible for customer data. You could incur a much larger fine than under existing Data Protection legislation, especially if failing to update your systems caused a data breach.

Manufacturing companies, and any organisation that depends on hardware could also risk health and safety fines if outdated software and machinery puts staff and contractors in danger.

#3: Higher maintenance costs

Some vendors and third-parties offer extended support for EOL software, but not all. Continuing to run an older car costs more over the years. The same is true of software and hardware. Old systems break more often, need more maintenance and specialist knowledge; they can become a time sponge and costly liability.

#4: Poor performance

Chances are, much like an old car, EOL software and hardware is going to perform less effectively over time. It won’t integrate as well with modern systems; it could slow down your devices and cause downtime, which could prove more costly than upgrading systems when a vendor issues an EOL update.

Unfortunately, there is simply no way to continue to run EOL systems without risk and extra costs. Once a software or hardware company stops issuing updates and patch fixes, customers are often on their own. Over time, reliability and security issues can cause downtime, reduce productivity or worse, put your customer data at risk.

Cybercriminals are always quick to exploit security vulnerabilities, which means it’s worth asking whether you need to review your systems to make sure your organisation is not at risk from EOL technology.

If your business or organisation requires support with updating IT systems or infrastructure, or migrating to hybrid or cloud solutions, contact me for an informal chat. Call 0845 643 6060 or email matt.thompson@ukngroup.com

Further Information

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