Upgrading Your POS System to Windows 10 Will Help You Avoid These Windows 7 Security Threats

Did you know that POSReady7, a variant of Windows 7 you may still be using in your restaurant, expires in October 2021?

Users of Windows 7 Pro Embedded have even less time to switch to Windows 10, since Microsoft is ending support for this version in October 2020. While you may have the option to pay to extend Windows 7 support, there are numerous benefits to upgrading to Windows 10 as soon as possible.

If your software is outdated, the programs you run will have security vulnerabilities that hackers could potentially exploit. Hackers are even targeting retail businesses specifically by writing code that scans for clues the compromised machine is a POS system. For legacy hardware that can only run Windows 7, getting a new POS system is the only way to safeguard your restaurant from an attack in the long run.

Here are 5 Windows 7 security threats you can avoid by switching to Windows 10 today:

1 – Unlike Windows 10, the lack of maintenance for Windows 7 increases your chances of being hacked

Windows 10 is better than Windows 7 because it is Microsoft’s newest release, with advanced security features that the old operating system lacks.

Windows 10 is the only version that will continue to receive critical updates beyond 2021—meaning that each day you use Windows 7 beyond this time period, you are potentially exposing your restaurant to more vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit.

2 – Malware from outdated software can spread from system to system

While no operating system is impervious to all vulnerabilities, upgrading to Windows 10 greatly reduces your susceptibility to a cyber attack. Take a look around your restaurant—how many POS terminals do you see? If you have already purchased hardware that runs on Windows 10, that number represents your capacity to handle orders. If each of those terminals is still running on Windows 7 beyond its end of life support date however, you are looking at the next potential source of a data breach that could affect countless customer credit card numbers.

Just last year, you may remember that Earl Enterprises, owner of Planet Hollywood and other major restaurant brands, found out that malware was active for almost 10 months on its payment systems before someone noticed the security breach.

While no system can be perfect, upgrading to Windows 10 and updating payment device software will reduce your risk of being hacked by preventing many of these vulnerabilities.

3 – Payment systems that use Windows 7 after 2021 will no longer be PCI compliant

When Microsoft stops producing updates for Windows Pro Embedded this October and POSReady7 in October 2021, it will also discontinue support for related services and software.

Once no further security patches are available, POS systems that can only run this software will no longer be PCI compliant because they violate PCI DSS 6.2. According to one payment industry blog, this PCI requirement stipulates that users must install security patches from vendors within one month of their release – which will be impossible to do after the end of life date for the specific type of Windows 7 software your restaurant is running.

4 – Merely Accessing the Internet on Windows 7 Now Makes You Vulnerable

Windows 7 lacks many of the security features built into Windows 10, which can protect your restaurant if employees use a back of house laptop or other device to view online training materials or browse other websites.

Windows 10 prevents hackers from identifying your devices, network or other compromising information even if employees accidentally stumble upon a malicious website.

If you are still using Windows 7, you may already have malware waiting for you to access critical information so it can begin to steal this data. Because there are no longer security patches for this operating system, more file locations are unprotected, and any spreadsheets saved to these locations risk being compromised. Over time, the lack of security patches will make your system increasingly vulnerable.

5 – Hackers have a lot of experience with Windows 7

Windows 7 has been on the market for over a decade, and hackers have become well-versed in exploiting its vulnerabilities, especially as Microsoft began to sunset this software in favor of Windows 10.

Since January 2019, malicious activity affecting Windows 7-based hardware has increased by 75%. One example is phishing attacks, which occur when malicious URLs imitate trustworthy domains you visit every day and can affect more than one type of operating system. You may receive an email from PayPal about updating contact information, only to click on the link and give hackers access to your entire system. Even the link and site themselves may appear harmless, but still expose you to an attack, as this article describes.

Some types of phishing attacks may not even need malware to be effective. Instead, they may use social engineering, a technique that asks simple yet personal questions to get you to reveal critical information to untrustworthy sources hidden under the guise of a professional-looking email.

Between January and July of last year alone, the number of phishing URLs increased by 400% – showing hackers were already starting to think of exploiting those who failed to upgrade well in advance of Microsoft’s end of life date.

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