ONLINE motor finance market specialist iVendi says more than a third of its dealer users are still using Windows 7 in the week that Microsoft withdraws support for the product – posing a threat to customer data.
It found that 37 per cent of them were on the 10-year-old operating system and warned that because official security updates will no longer be issued by the tech giant, consumer data will be potentially very vulnerable to attack by viruses and malware.
Chief executive James Tew said: ‘We have several thousand dealerships using our products in the UK, providing a good cross-section across franchises, independents and car supermarkets, so our figure is, we believe, probably broadly representative of the total market.
‘While this doesn’t affect the data security of our online motor retail products, which run within a browser environment, we can track which version of Windows is installed on each PC used to access our systems from our data analytics.
‘The 37 per cent we have recorded over the past 28 days looks like a surprisingly high percentage. There is no doubt that it means that a substantial number of dealers are creating a situation where any consumer data stored on their hardware – for example, in a spreadsheet – will become more exposed to cyber attack, with all the potential problems that may bring, ranging from legal issues to reputational damage.’
He added: ‘Essentially, if a security vulnerability is exposed in Windows 7 in the future, which is relatively likely because the technology is now quite old, no patches will be made available to resolve the problem. In IT terms, it’s a leaky boat that is only going to take on more water as time passes.
‘We’d urge dealers to seriously consider upgrading to a newer operating system. Microsoft is advising people to adopt Windows 10, which can be done at a reasonable cost, and as long as your hardware is capable of running it, this seems like the simplest route to resolving the problem.’
Tew said it was important to consider why so many dealer users were still on Windows 7 – and that the answer was that their choices were sometimes limited.
‘There is no doubt that some users will have stayed on Windows 7 because it was easier and cheaper than upgrading. They have just taken the path of least resistance.
‘However, we believe that quite a number have stayed with the old technology because they are operating a variety of legacy systems that do not work on newer versions of Windows. These dealers face a difficult decision. They may have to update not just Windows but change a range of software that they need to operate their business.’
He said iVendi was operating an open-door policy for dealers needing advice about the best way to move off Windows 7 to protect consumer data.
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