Playing roulette with outdated IT isn’t worth the gamble

Wednesday 4 December, 2019

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If a letter spelling out the name of a firm fell from outside the office, I’m confident it would be fixed quickly. Why? Because left unattended, it’s evidence of not caring and is a risk to a firm’s reputation. The same logic can be applied to outdated technology.

The temptation to eke out another year from a firm’s current IT system is great. Partners’ in planning meetings can coalesce around facts like:

  • The current system delivers what we want
  • Our staff all know how to use it
  • It costs us very little to run
  • We’ll seriously consider replacing it in 12 months’ time

The reality is that with each passing year of not modernising, a firm is putting itself at greater risk of a partial or complete system failure. In short, the cost of modernising IT is likely to be less than the cost to a firm’s reputation in the long run.

Vendors and developers will all end support for their oldest hardware and software eventually; that’s a fact of life. Withdrawal of support doesn’t mean systems will stop working overnight, just that the risks in keeping them become greater over time.

When a software provider stops issuing security updates, a firm is at greater risk of being hacked by cyber criminals. Firms that have fallen prey to such vulnerabilities may experience significant disruption to their ability to service clients and/or financial loss.

Putting cyber-attacks aside, other disadvantages to not modernising IT systems include:

  • Higher maintenance costs compared to newer technology
  • Poor overall system performance
  • Inability to update to newer software versions
  • Possible non-compliance with insurance policies
  • Adverse impact of staff’s perception on a firm unwilling to invest

Perhaps the most serious implication of not modernising is it shows a complete disregard for the importance of data security in the 21st Century. Examples abound of well-known brands that have been bashed by the media when hacks or data breaches have been reported.

As we head into 2020, now is the time to address the issue of modernisation. Microsoft ends support for its Windows 7 operating system and Windows Server 2008 on 14 January. It’s safe to assume those with unscrupulous or criminal motives will target businesses with these end of life systems after this date.

Successful firms harness modern technology to help create growth, rather than under invest in the hope of keeping costs down.

Tim Smith, Technical Director at Insight Legal