NSA recommends users ditch Windows XP

By on May 2, 2011, 2:03 PM

The National Security Agency (NSA) is advising users to upgrade from Windows XP to either Windows Vista or Windows 7. Furthermore, the organization says that when possible, choosing a 64-bit version of Windows is recommended. We at TechSpot wholeheartedly agree.

The NSA's latest recommendation comes as part a 10-page document titled "Best Practice for Securing a Home Network" (PDF). Interestingly, and unsurprisingly, Linux is not mentioned at all. Here is the crux of the advice:

Migrate to a Modern OS and Hardware Platform
Both Windows 7 and Vista provide substantial security enhancements over earlier Windows workstation operating systems such as XP. Many of these security features are enabled by default and help prevent many common attack vectors. In addition, implementing the 64-bit mode of the OS on a 64-bit hardware platform substantially increases the effort of an adversary to attain a system or root compromise. For any Windows-based OS, verify that Windows Update is configured to provide updates automatically.

Although Windows Vista and Windows 7 are used by 35 percent of users around the world, Windows XP still trumps them both with 53 percent market share, according to the latest April 2011 data. This is very unfortunate given that XP is a decade-old operating system.

Microsoft knows this and is making its own attempts to woo users off the platform. The software giant still supports those using XP, despite its hate for the ancient OS.

On April 14, 2009, Microsoft retired Mainstream Support for XP, and with it, support for IE6. The company is not planning to retire Extended Support for the operating system until April 8, 2014. If the company ends up releasing XP SP4 (highly unlikely), it will retire support for SP3 (released in April 2008) two years later, or in April 2014, whichever comes first. In short, Windows XP will continue to be officially supported by Microsoft for about three more years. Despite the support options, Redmond still wants XP and IE6 to die.




User Comments: 49

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Raswan Raswan said:

If you hadn't shit the bed on us with Vista, we wouldn't have stuck with XP for so long. Win7 just came out. Chillax for another year, and you'll get your switch.

Ithryl said:

Damn and I thought this Agency is absolutely useless. ... oh wait

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Not going to happen. Not enough 64-bit systems although most 64-bit systems sill use 32-bit OS on them. Example ACER W500 uses AMD C-50 64-bit but comes with Windows 7 HP 32-bit for the OS. All those netbooks from 2009 to 2010 are 32-bit. Can't see owners ditching though just yet. I still run Windows XP Pro SP3 all patched up running MSE an etc. Those system can't run Vista nor Windows 7.

Well if NSA going to have some sort of buy back program to give those who have older Windows XP no-64 bit systems cash back or a check, then just maybe everyone will get on the bandwagon and say good by to your old friend Windows Xp 32-bit.

zillion said:

It is purely an advice, so ppl can take it or not.

Tbh i still didnt find vist as bad as the hype made it, it wasnt the best and had its flaws but i still liked it.

Win7 on the other hand is just pure win!!

cmbjive said:

Windows Vista is such a crappy browser that I wouldn't blame anyone for not upgrading from XP. That being said, Windows 7 is more stable than Vista so MS should offer a discounted program to get XP users to upgrade.

Also, many businesses still use Windows XP. I have worked for many employers who still use XP. Can't convince people to upgrade if businesses won't upgrade as well.

HaMsTeYr HaMsTeYr said:

@cmbjive: Windows Vista is such a crappy browser...? I never recalled it being a browser : P

On a more related note, I don't think its that difficult to switch over to 7 64 either... Most laptops of today DO come out with windows 7 64 bit though. Plus I don't see why people wouldn't want windows 7 now... >.>

Zilpha Zilpha said:

WThat being said, Windows 7 is more stable than Vista so MS should offer a discounted program to get XP users to upgrade.

They actually did. If you pre-ordered it you got it dirt cheap. Besides that, XP had a run of over a decade. If people truly balk at spending 100-200 bucks every ten years, they need to evaluate whether they really need to have a computer or not.

princeton princeton said:

raswan said:

If you hadn't shit the bed on us with Vista, we wouldn't have stuck with XP for so long. Win7 just came out. Chillax for another year, and you'll get your switch.

Win7 came out in 2009. That's two years ago. If that's "just came out" for you then you need to rethink your perception of lengths of time.

Guest said:

I recommend to NSA downgrade Windows Vista or 7 to Windows XP.

:)

edvim said:

Taking into consideration how tightly woven corporate dogma has become with public policy in Washington D.C., the strong proprietary air to this NSA paper isn't surprising. It does try to be a comprehensive online security paper touching on operating systems, browsers, PDF readers, local router settings, etc. but it fails at giving non-techie users any insight on viable (and sometimes better) alternatives.

Even following it's limiting Windows-centric tone, I don't think a fully patched WinXP SP3 install is significantly more hazardous to use online than Win7. Giving MS Office it's own section is also revealing about the bias throughout the paper. (Been quite happy with OpenOffice.org and now LibreOffice myself). Also, there are a lot of people and small businesses still trying to recover from the recent economic downturn so buying all new computer hardware that's Vista (relatively massive resource hog) or Win7 (not as much) compatible is on hold for a while. On the other hand, a clean install of WinXP will run fine on older hardware.

If there was a mention of Linux Mint or Crunchbang that'll run even better on older hardware (giving the user not just a stable, secure operating system but safer applications for web browsing and such) than I'd be much more likely to view the NSA as an institution serving the public's needs and not just another corporate tag-along.

edvim said:

>> 100-200 bucks every ten years???

I think you're only taking into consideration buying a copy of Win7. Actually the costs will be much more since Win7 simply won't run that well on ten year old hardware. WinXP will run fine on hardware Win7 cannot so real world costs involve a new PC (or at least a newer reconditioned box.) Even a dated PIII with 512 MB of RAM will be a usable WinXP system but not with Win7. MS made a lot of resource usage improvements in Win7 compared to Vista but it still requires a relatively decent computer to run on.

Zecias said:

cmbjive said:

Windows Vista is such a crappy browser that I wouldn't blame anyone for not upgrading from XP. That being said, Windows 7 is more stable than Vista so MS should offer a discounted program to get XP users to upgrade.

Also, many businesses still use Windows XP. I have worked for many employers who still use XP. Can't convince people to upgrade if businesses won't upgrade as well.

Browser??? i think u mean OS...

EDO219 said:

"Interestingly, and unsurprisingly, Linux is not mentioned at all."

I am very surprised, actually. Why isn't any build of Linux mentioned? o_o

Guest said:

I'm sure the NSA (a group of the smartest Mathematicians, and Computer security specialists in the world) can sleep well knowing that the folks at Techspot.com "Wholeheartedly Agree"....thank you....

Guest said:

I don't have any problems with my "No Modern OS" Windows XP and I feel very secure with it !!!

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Guest said:

I recommend to NSA downgrade Windows Vista or 7 to Windows XP.

............huh? You know, every once in a while, we have guests who post something useful or something that is genuinely funny...this is not one of those :P

But anywho, I think the big issue is that most people will need to upgrade their computer so it can run Win7 or get a new one. For most people, it simply isn't worth it. My parents are just now looking into getting a new computer, but only because the current one is pooping out on them. Some people just don't see the need for spending money unless it's for something important. When all you do is browse the web, print off coupons, and check email, a new computer or a new OS is not considered important...for me it's a necessity...which is why i'll never have money thanks to ever-evolving technology :P

B00kWyrm B00kWyrm, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Of course NSA wants us to switch... They have a backdoor in Win7!

Guest said:

NSA recommends users... Not for me !!!

Guest said:

NSA recomends to migrate a modern OS diferent to XP... Come on, give me a break !!!

cmbjive said:

To all, yes, I meant Windows as an OS, but can't go back an edit what was written. :P

Guest said:

LOL....LOL....LOL :D

They recommend to go with Vista !!!

LOL

OUTLAWXXX said:

Does anybody else think Microsoft might have made it easier for the NSA to tap into our PC's with vista and 7? upgrading to Vista is just bad advice imo but win 7 is excellent. It's very true that the security is better with those two OS but seriously, when was the last time any government agency gave out good advice on PC security? Just seems like they have an agenda behind it. Oh well I've already got win 7 so too late to worry about that ^_^

Guest said:

Stop whining, you nerds, and upgrade you ****ed up granma's ugly beige plastic PCs to something that will be more fitting to your "modern" life styles! Even a Vista x64-based properly configured PC with 64-bit hardware will whip any XP-run PC's ***, I thought you were supposed to be on the bleeding edge of computing tech...And Win7?....I tell you what...if you still on XP a year and a half after 7 came out - you're beyond redemption. No ****ing excuses to save you from eternal misery.

Guest said:

NSA recommends upgrading to anything but XP...Everyone down grades to Windows ME, because they are paranoid conspiracy ******. NSA...national SECURITY agency...They invented computer encryption...."when was the last time a government agency gave good advice about computer security?" ARE YOU ****ing kidding me?! the "internet" was invented by [D]ARPA, a Pentagon agency....GOD I Just face palmed so hard.

Guest said:

Are you feeling good ???

yRaz yRaz said:

Guest said:

NSA recommends upgrading to anything but XP...Everyone down grades to Windows ME, because they are paranoid conspiracy ******. NSA...national SECURITY agency...They invented computer encryption...."when was the last time a government agency gave good advice about computer security?" ARE YOU ****ing kidding me?! the "internet" was invented by [D]ARPA, a Pentagon agency....GOD I Just face palmed so hard.

/rage?

Guest said:

Oh !!! So sorry !!!

... Windows XP on a "Modern PC" even is better that Windows Vista.

Guest said:

To Vista or not to Vista...

... That's the question !

Guest said:

NSA recommendations are meaningless...

... They think that OS security was invented yesterday !

Jurassic4096 said:

tipstir said:

Not going to happen. Not enough 64-bit systems although most 64-bit systems sill use 32-bit OS on them. Example ACER W500 uses AMD C-50 64-bit but comes with Windows 7 HP 32-bit for the OS. All those netbooks from 2009 to 2010 are 32-bit. Can't see owners ditching though just yet. I still run Windows XP Pro SP3 all patched up running MSE an etc. Those system can't run Vista nor Windows 7.

Well if NSA going to have some sort of buy back program to give those who have older Windows XP no-64 bit systems cash back or a check, then just maybe everyone will get on the bandwagon and say good by to your old friend Windows Xp 32-bit.

This is so full of fail. Next time, read the whole story rather than picking one part of it.

Guest said:

Vista really isn't that bad, it was more that people didn't understand how to configure or use it properly.

Windows 7 x64 is a good stable OS, but not much will change until more vendors ship the x64 bit version with their PCs.

Jurassic4096 said:

cmbjive said:

Windows Vista is such a crappy browser...

Also, many businesses still use Windows XP. I have worked for many employers who still use XP. Can't convince people to upgrade if businesses won't upgrade as well.

Another fail comment. This site used to have decent comments, but its getting too close to the morons that post at Fudzilla.

cmbjive said:

I'm glad to know that my comment has been used to slander a really good site. My momma always said I was good for something and I'm glad you pointed that out.

Guest said:

No he means file manager. Vista's file manager trashed the 'tree' and blurred distinctions. It is a cow to use and so is avoided if possible.

Jurassic4096 said:

Guest said:

Vista really isn't that bad, it was more that people didn't understand how to configure or use it properly.

Windows 7 x64 is a good stable OS, but not much will change until more vendors ship the x64 bit version with their PCs.

I somewhat agree. When Vista came out i was running an Athlon64 3700+, 1GB of RAM, and a GeForce 6600GT. Before SP1 came out Vista was riddled with hardware and software incompatibilities and i quickly went back to XP. After SP1, I gave XP away and never looked back.

Jurassic4096 said:

cmbjive said:

I'm glad to know that my comment has been used to slander a really good site. My momma always said I was good for something and I'm glad you pointed that out.

Um... have you read the crap people post at Fudzilla? You failed right off the jump. Since when is Vista a browser? If i have to go any further into your comment about business use of XP and how that relates to consumers, i might go into a coma.

Guest said:

XP is a classic !!!

.

.

.

Keep it !!!

;)

krayzie said:

i recon the NSA is on the M$ payroll...

Guest said:

Windows 7 is Vista Second edition while the upcoming Windows 8=Vista third edition. Full of gimmicks and fancy tricks. Aero Snap? There's a far better version in XP called Tile Horizontally or Tile Vertically that isn't limited to arranging just two windows but any number you select. There are many good useful features of XP removed and broken in Windows 7. The file manager, Windows Explorer was utterly destroyed in Vista and becomes worse in Windows 7. Poor usability. See www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_features_removed_in_Window
_7 and www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_features_removed_in_Window
_Vista . Unnecessary GUI changes. Vista was innonative but horrible usability wise and removed things. Windows 7 is Vista with few new features and again many features removed and fancy gimmicks and shiny graphics added. XP was THE BEST because it did not change the GUI and move everything around just for sake of change.

Microsoft made a classic blunder with the GUI for Windows 7. They made it completely different from XP and buried, eliminated or dumbed down most of the truly useful features. Better OS or not, they alienated all their XP customers.

Guest said:

Vista really is "that bad", IMHO. I went to a resellers breakfast and the windows rep couldn't keep it running long enough to get through the presentation. It hung at least twice, and he failed to show us some features because it wouldn't load them up.

this was on a PC built for Vista and run by a Microsoft employee.

Sure, it's more stable now than it was then, I'll give them that, but it's still along the lines of Windows ME, and come on, who honestly uses Windows ME?

I'm warming up to 7 on my netbook, (it's only 'starter' though, which is a pain) but I like XP. I really like XP, and it's making me slow to switch. Then again, I clung to Win98 after being scared by Windows ME too.

As far as operating systems go, yeah, 1 year, 11 months, and 11 days feels like a short time to me, after how long I was on 98, and then how long I've been on XP.

cmbjive said:

jurassic4096 said:

Um... have you read the crap people post at Fudzilla? You failed right off the jump. Since when is Vista a browser? If i have to go any further into your comment about business use of XP and how that relates to consumers, i might go into a coma.

Umm, did you read my follow up comment after others noticed the error? No, of course you did. :P

As for whether business use of Windows XP can influence the decisions of home users is worthy of debate, but what we both say is speculative (I never said what I wrote was fact) unless MS provides numbers about what influences prevents people from upgrading from XP to Vista or 7.

Guest said:

im sure they found out about all these things after julian assange tried to root him self in to NSAs main sever which still ran on xp .... ;^)

Guest said:

Okay, I guess we need to blindly trust the Obama-dictatorial pose on this one with the National Security Agency. This sounds like the same thing when Obama said the iPhone was evil, an evil mind controlling device that was made to take the free will away from the people. Well, I guess he didn't have his Blackberry then. I suppose it's either that, or he is just a PC nut who hates apple or something like that. Plus, imagine all of the circumference of control we Americans would be giving up to our government. All of the GPL agreeements and certificates of authority that are built-in to the Xp system are golden, as there are no longer any ''self-issued' or ''self-owned' license keys or authenticity of genuine seal, other than the limited download contract they give you. This is just another ploy from the far-left trying to mandate their piss-ant rules for our society to follow. Xp is the shizzznite, and it always will be. Don't through out the baby, with the dirty bath water.

Guest said:

I don't understand this recommendation... I think is only for users that not controle their own equipments... Windows XP (and 2000 for sure too) can be too secure if you take care of it.

abe10tiger abe10tiger, TechSpot Paladin, said:

awwwwwwww .I can't just "Ditch" Windows XP. It's still a good OS yah know... But i guess it's better to be safe than sorry.

Guest said:

So like what is so bad about XP? My computer has XP Pro with SP3 and Commodo Firewall. My Files are encryted with PGP, so is it still insecure?

I do like the comment the the NSA has a backdoor to W7, that sounds like a more plausible excuse for trying to get people to switch OS.

Mantrhax Mantrhax said:

Oh yeah, upgrade to Vista....they know everything about security.... way to go NSA

abe10tiger abe10tiger, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Vista Sucks?

Oh yeah, upgrade to Vista....they know everything about security.... way to go NSA

I've heard from some people that Vista sucks. I've even heard that when you defrag your hard drive, it doesn't indicate the progress. I've heard a lot of bad things about Vista.

Not really sure about what I hear. Could you guys make it clear for me? :p

Guest said:

I was on Vista for nearly a year and a half, can't say i ever had a problem with it, i agree it was quirky compared to XP, but that was due to learning it more than an inherent problem with it.

When Win7 came out i wasn't going to switch to it yet but then bought a new laptop that came loaded with Win7 64 Bit. After using that a few days i could see it ran smoother than Vista and then upgraded my desktop as well.

I think the biggest problems people have with Vista and 7 is not having a computer with enough power to run it. I see a couple posters mentioned the demo problems they had when Vista came out, even though they claimed the computer used was built for Vista they didn't know in the early days just how much computer they needed! The underestimated a bit.

My desktop is running at 3.6Ghz with 6gb of RAM on Win 7 64, it screams! Gaming is nothing but pure pleasure on this platform. My laptop is only 2.4Ghz and 4gb of RAM and again on Win 7 64, it runs so smooth its like i finally have the computer i have been wanting for 20 years. Adding a SSD hard drive soon to really pep it up!

We have 6 computers in the household, two laptops, four desktops. Both laptops are Win 7 and three of the desktops are Win 7. The remaining desktop is Win2kPro which i need for running some older software at the workbench in my shop. If i could run that stuff on 7 i would replace that computer as well. As for needing big time hardware for 7, no true. My kids computer is a 2.8Ghz P4 with 2gb of RAM, nothing special an old HP they got free from a school program, upgraded it to 7 last year and it runs great, even supports Aero after tossing in a newer video card.

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