Microsoft XP And Office 2003 Security Warning
Britain's data protection watchdog has warned owners of Microsoft's Windows XP and Office 2003 products of future potential security flaws.
The warning from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) comes as the software giant is set to end official support of the products on April 8.
Despite Windows XP being considered an aged operating system, it still powers nearly a third of all PCs worldwide, according to NetMarketShare.
UK software firm AppSense believes three-quarters of UK firms have XP within their networks, while Gartner says many businesses have up to 20% running on XP.
The ICO said once official support ends, no update release to overcome flaws will be issued, risking data breaches of machines used by businesses and private users.
The watchdog said the problem will get worse over time as more vulnerabilities are gradually discovered.
It said that will increase opportunities for attackers to exploit and potentially gain unauthorised access to systems.
ICO technology group manager Dr Simon Rice also warned that the issue is not limited to these two products.
He said: "Organisations regularly end support for their older products.
"And those with supported systems still need to be vigilant, as vulnerabilities will be discovered over time."
Dr Rice urged businesses to be prepared for the ending of support.
He said: "As a responsible data controller, it is your organisation's responsibility to make sure you have the measures in place to keep people's details safe."
He added: "Where you cannot apply a (software) update, you may need to put additional measures in place to mitigate the risk."
Approached by Sky News, a Microsoft spokesperson said warning about the end of support was announced some time ago.
It said the user notifications raised the issue of potential virus and security risks.
:: Microsoft has given advice for users of both Office 2003 and Windows XP on its website.