If you're running a computer with the Windows XP operating system, you need to pay attention. As of today, Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates for the OS. What that means is as hackers find vulnerabilities in the OS, Microsoft will no longer release patches to fix them.


They also will not be issuing updates to fix new bugs, crashes, etc, but while important, the security aspect of this is a lot more significant. Windows XP is still a widely used operating system, and without future security patches, any machine running XP is going to be at increasing risk for getting hacked. Unfortunately, XP is especially common in business environments, due to compatibility issues. Many places have software they rely on for their business, anything from accounting software to guiding industrial cutters. Many of these programs were not compatible with Windows Vista, and so XP machines were kept. These machines can now present a risk to other operations.


It's usually easier for a bad guy to access to other computers from an infected system already on a network, compared to having to attack from completely outside a network. Even if your other computers aren't running XP, one machine that has XP and gets compromised can be used to try to sneak into other machines.


I happen to like XP as an operating system. I found it to be stable and reliable, and I stuck with it rather than getting Vista, myself. I've since upgraded to Windows 7, and while I have had a handful of issues with running older software, I've been able to fix or get around each problem.


If you're still running XP, the time to upgrade is now. Is your system drastically more vulnerable today than it was yesterday? No, but it is going to be increasingly vulnerable moving forward.