Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Windows 7 and ESF.

Windows 7 will reach the end of its supported life, world-wide, on January 14, 2020 and ESF is no exception. After that date, Microsoft Corporation will no longer produce fixes to issues with this software. This includes fixes to security-related problems which could leave PCs using Windows 7 open to attack through a variety of avenues. This, ultimately, represents a possible threat to the integrity of ESF’s computing and information resources.

While many general-use PCs/laptops on Campus (categories 1 and 2 above) have already been upgraded to Windows 10 or replaced, some have not. CNS has been working for the last year to upgrade systems to Windows 10 where possible, but there is still much to do. When an upgrade is not possible, replacement has been suggested, but there are still situations where upgrade or replacement is not possible (category 3 above). 

The ESF solution:

In an effort to protect systems that are not upgrade-able (categories 2 and 3 above) they will be moved from the public-access areas of the ESF Campus network and placed onto a private wired network as CNS works to either 1) continue to upgrade, 2) eliminate, or 3) continue to protect them (See timeline below). 

While on this limited network, communication to, from and between these PCs will initially be limited to:
  1. Some file server services
  2. Some network printing services
  3. Some antivirus updates
  4. Remote desktop in to the PC on the limited network
On-going Upgrades:

For everyone else, if your PC/laptop is under 4 years old and it is still using the Microsoft Windows 7 Operating System, you may be able to have it upgraded to Windows 10 directly and at little or no cost. If you believe you are in this category, or have no idea, please contact the CNS Help Desk to schedule an appointment to have your device looked at. This way, we can help you determine what the best course of action might be for your situation before Microsoft support for Windows 7 ends in January 2020.

If you have already requested an upgrade, we have not forgotten and will be working through them between now and the end of December. We thank you for your patience.
Timing and potential consequences:

We have little time remaining before Microsoft will release the first round of patches that do not include Windows 7. At that point, some see a rapid ramping up of attacks against Windows 7 as Microsoft itself provides hints as to what vulnerabilities are open for exploitation by releasing updates to current versions of Windows.