If You Want to Hack a UK Government PC it's Never Been Easier

By Nick Cowen on at

In news that may have members of Anonymous rubbing their hands, a decision by the Government not to extend a £5.5 million deal with Microsoft may leave its computers highly vulnerable to hacking, according the Guardian.

Last year in April, Microsoft withdrew extended support for its Windows XP operating system – you know, the one we all loved before Windows Vista sloshed out of Redmond to the delight of nearly no one? Like many people at the time, the government apparently elected to stick with Windows XP and last year joined a bunch of institutions and businesses that were prepared to pay Microsoft to support the OS, which included, among other things, security updates. This cost the taxpayer £5.5 million.

This was meant to provide a window for government departments to upgrade to another system, which in some instances didn't happen. In light of government's decision not to pay for extended report, thousands of computers are now at risk.

The Government Digital Service told The Guardian that “weaknesses that are found in unsupported products will remain unpatched and will be exploitable by relatively low-skilled attackers”.

Departments that haven't upgraded away from XP will have to contact Microsoft directly if they want continued support, which will eat into their budgets – provided to them once again, by the taxpayer. Some of the departments reportedly affected are The Metropolitan Police Service, HM Revenue and Customs and NHS Scotland. So it's not like any services we all depend on are now vulnerable.

Oh wait! It's exactly like that! Oh, and to fuel paranoia further, the support for Windows XP on government PCs expired in April. Sleep tight!