I’m still running Windows 7 – what shall I do?

On Tuesday 14th January, Windows 7 came to the end of its supported life. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean it will stop working, but Microsoft will stop providing security updates from now on.

Windows 7 was launched in 2009 and currently still has a couple of hundred million users, many of them individuals or small businesses.

The problem for users is that holes in the security of Windows will no longer be patched and the malware industry will be able to exploit any vulnerabilities without protection from now on. This could include ransomware, where your computer is locked unless you provide payment.

So what can you do to protect yourself? The easiest option is to upgrade to Windows 10 but if you can’t afford that there are still a few things you can do.

If you can’t patch Windows, you can still make sure that other software you use is updated. In particular, your browser is somewhere that malware can infect your computer. Google has committed to fully supporting Chrome on Windows 7 computers at least until 15 July 2021.

Another way to protect yourself it to try to avoid untrusted or insecure websites. The websites of large organisatons are usually safe.

Running good firewall and anti-virus software is essential. Which recommends Avast as the best free anti-virus software or you may prefer to pay for one that includes a firewall such as Kaspersky Total Security.

Emails are another common source of infections. Never click an unsolicited attachment and beware of phishing emails that claim to come from a trusted source such as your bank or PayPal and ask you to click on a link or button to log into your account. Do not click the link, instead go directly to the organisation’s website and log in the way your normally would.

Finally, the best defence against ransomare is to have all your information – files, pictures backed up or stored in the cloud. There are free cloud storage sites such as Dropbox that will allow you plenty of space to store your files.