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Businesses still relying on an old Microsoft system to run their computers could be putting their data at risk, a Wiltshire IT company is warning.

Kieran Thomas, Managing Director of Westbury-based Priority IT, says businesses and individuals whose computers use Windows 7 should upgrade or invest in new kit, because from January Microsoft will no longer support the operating system.

From January 14, Microsoft will stop issuing patches and updates for any Windows 7 vulnerabilities, and it is likely that other software providers will soon follow suit and stop support of Windows 7.

“We are currently working with our own clients who still use Windows 7 to assess the best option for them. That may be either to upgrade their equipment to the latest operating system, which is Windows 10, or invest in new equipment altogether,” said Kieran.

Windows 7 is a decade old and has proved to be a popular operating system for Microsoft, with an estimated 36% of all PCs in active use still running it.

However, once support is withdrawn equipment still using the system leaves itself open to attack from hackers.

Kieran added: “It is entirely possible that hackers have already identified potential vulnerabilities in Windows 7 and are biding their time, until Microsoft withdraws support, to launch their attacks.

“We strongly advise any businesses to take action well ahead of January 14 next year and to upgrade or replace equipment. Otherwise, they could find themselves victims of cybercriminals. Any redundant equipment should be wiped clean and recycled or disposed of under WEEE regulations.”

Priority IT is a member of the Microsoft Refurbisher Program, where the team will take in unwanted laptops or computers which are of sufficient quality and spec, wipe and upgrade them to Windows 10, then pass them on to new owners in exchange for a donation for Wiltshire charity Alzheimer’s Support.

Details of the PCs and laptops currently on offer are available via Priority IT’s website at https://www.priorityIT.co.uk/, for a suggested donation of £50 each. The team also offer a secure data wipe service, again in aid of Alzheimer’s Support, for a donation of £20.

For more information about the end-of-life for Windows 7, or the Microsoft Refurbisher Programme,  contact Kieran and the Priority IT team on 01225 636000, or email info@priority-it.co.uk.