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A quarter of devices still run Windows 7 — FBI warns of security issues

(Image credit: Wachiwit/Shutterstock)

Earlier this year, Microsoft yanked away its life support for Windows 7 and stopped providing technical assistance and software updates for the obsolete operating system. 

But for some odd reason, a significant number of devices are still running the Windows Vista successor, and the FBI is stepping in to encourage upgrade-shy users to ditch Windows 7, according to ZDNet.

FBI warns the masses that Windows 7 is not safe

When Microsoft announced Windows 7's end-of-life stage in January, 26% of devices were running Windows 7. It's now been seven months since the Redmond-based tech giant declared its end of support for Windows 7, but usage rates dropped by only 2%, according to NetMarketShare.

NetMarketShare

(Image credit: NetMarketShare)

Well aware of the security risks involved with Windows 7, the FBI stepped in to warn the masses about the operating system's high cyberattack vulnerability.

"Continuing to use Windows 7 within an enterprise may provide cyber criminals access in to computer systems. As time passes, Windows 7 becomes more vulnerable to exploitation due to lack of security updates and new vulnerabilities discovered," the agency said.

The federal agency explained that most customers are unable to maintain an unsupported Windows 7 operating system, and as a result, more cybercriminals will perceive Windows 7 users as the perfect target for malicious hacking.

How Windows 7's security flaws are being exploited by cybercriminals

The FBI illustrated how cybercriminals can exploit Windows 7's security vulnerabilities by pointing out hacking tools such as EternalBlue, a technique that exploits a security flaw in Windows 7's Server Message Block.

The FBI also mentioned BlueKeep, which gives cybercriminals the opportunity to hack into Windows 7 devices using a security vulnerability found in Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol.

To date, Microsoft allows Windows 7 users to upgrade their systems to Windows 10 for free, so what's the hold up?

Some customers, the FBI noted, may be hesitant to upgrade because their dated hardware cannot support it and the cost of purchasing a new device may intimidate Windows 7 users, but the FBI explained that the cost of a cybercriminal attack is far more expensive.

In addition to upgrading to Windows 10, the FBI is urging Microsoft consumers to equip their systems with anti-virus software, spam filters and up-to-date firewall protection. 

The FBI knows first hand about the sneaky tactics of cybercriminals, so if I were a Windows 7 user, I'd heed the federal agency's advice.