Windows XP Extended Support Is Officially Over

As of April 8th, 2014 Microsoft has officially ended extended support of Windows XP.

Note to business required to be HIPAA compliant: You MUST upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista or higher or replace your Windows XP computers to remain HIPAA compliant.

What does this mean to users?
The end of extended support means that Microsoft will no longer provide technical assistance or release patches and updates for Windows XP. If a new security hole or exploit is found by a hacker or security expert, Microsoft will no longer do anything to fix it.  If you have Windows XP, your computer will not stop working, but it will over time become more vulnerable to viruses and security risks. Also, it’s very likely that any new hardware or peripherals (printers, scanners, digital cameras, etc), and software will not work with or support Windows XP computers. We recommend that you either upgrade to Windows 7 or later if your computer meets the minimum system requirements, or replace your computer altogether to avoid the potential and likely security risks that come along with running an out of date operating system.

Should I upgrade or replace my computer?
If your computer is 4 or more years old, we would recommend replacing it. The cost to upgrade it would be about 75% of what it would cost to purchase a new computer with a warranty. If you are still on the fence on whether you want to upgrade or replace your computer, we’ve laid out our recommended system requirements for you.

With Microsoft’s minimum system requirements, your system will work with the operating system, albeit not very well. Our recommended system specifications will ensure that the computer is capable of performing at a reasonable level.

We recommend the following minimum system specifications:

  • Intel Core i3 or AMD Phenom II X4 Processor
  • 2GB RAM Minimum, 4GB Recommended
  • 160GB or larger hard drive

Microsoft’s Windows 7 Minimum System Requirements
Microsoft’s Windows 8 Minimum System Requirements

How can I keep Windows XP and stay safe from viruses and hackers?
The short answer is to disconnect your computer from the Internet. The fact is that most people these days need to be connected to the Internet unless Solitaire is the limit to their computing requirements. If you must keep Windows XP here are a few things you can try, to remain safe (but don’t say we didn’t warn you 😉 ):

  • Make sure you have an up to date and fully patched antivirus software; we recommend AVG Antivirus or Bit Defender.
  • Ideally it would be best to keep Java, Adobe Flash, and Adobe Reader off of the computer; if you must have them they should be kept up to date.
  • Use a browser other than Internet Explorer like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox

Can’t I just go buy a $300 computer at a large retailer and be done with it?
The old adage “you get what you pay for” rings true. If you buy a $300 computer, you’re going to get a $300 computer. These computers are rarely “deals”, they’re built using cheap parts, and generally have low performance specifications. Additionally, they typically have shorter warranties periods.

If you need assistance with replacing or upgrading your Windows XP computer, give us a call at (855) IT-GURUS (484-8787). We’re here to help!

Time is running out for Windows XP

Microsoft announced that on April 8, 2014, the last security patch will be issued for Windows XP.  After that date, the 12 year old Operating System will no longer be supported by Microsoft.

What does that mean for you?

After April 8, your computer will become increasingly susceptible to virus, spyware, and malware infection which will inevitably render your system useless. While virus protection will offer some resistance, it will only be a matter of time before hackers and virus writers find a way around that protection by exploiting holes in the XP operating system.

What are your Options?

  • If your computer is new enough, upgrade your operating system. Windows Vista, 7, and 8 are supported by Microsoft. Bring your computer in and we will advise you of your options.
  • If your computer will not support a newer operating system, it’s time to start shopping for a new computer.  Stop by and we can discuss the wide selection of PCs that we have available. We even carry refurbished PCs for those that are not in the market to make a new purchase.  We have both Windows 7 and Windows 8 operating systems available for PCs newly purchased from our store.

CMS Extends Attestation Deadline for EPs until March 31, 2014

CMS is extending the deadline for eligible professionals to attest to meaningful use from 11:59 pm ET on February 28, 2014 to 11:59 pm ET March 31, 2014.

EPs will have until the end of March to attest for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program 2013 reporting year.

CMS states that “This extension will allow more time for providers to submit their meaningful use data and receive an incentive payment for the 2013 program year, as well as avoid the 2015 payment adjustment.”

CMS reminds Medicaid EPs that “This extension does not impact the deadlines for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program or any other CMS program, including the electronic submission for the Physician Quality Reporting System EHR Incentive Program Pilot. “

For information on how to attest, visit www.cms.gov.

Windows XP in the Healthcare Industry

If you are using Windows XP and are in the healthcare industry, it is time to make changes to avoid non-compliance and liability.  As of April 8, 2014 the extended support for Windows XP comes to a final end.  This means that there will be no more releases of any security patches or updates.  This will make Windows XP non-compliant with HIPAA.

§164.312(e) “Standard: Transmission security. Implement technical security measures to guard against unauthorized access to electronic protected health information that is being transmitted over an electronic communications network.”

If any of your business computers are still running Windows XP, Allstate IT Solutions can help you implement the necessary changes before April 8, 2014.