If you're still using Microsoft's Windows XP operating system, you could be the target of cybercriminals.
Starting this week, Microsoft is no longer providing technical support or security updates for the 12-year-old XP operating system, or for its Office 2003 software suite, which includes Word, Excel and Outlook.
According to the Better Business Bureau, this means XP users could become more vulnerable to computer viruses and malware, as many experts believe scammers have been waiting for this opportunity to start launching attacks.
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The Better Business Bureau offers businesses still using Microsoft XP tips to make sure their data is secure:
- Determine whether your computer operating system can be upgraded. Microsoft offers extensive information and its Windows Upgrade Assistant on its website.
- Older computers likely will not be able to run Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, the latest version of the operating system. You may want to consider upgrading to an earlier version, such as Windows 7, which is still being supported by the company.
- If you can't update your operating system at all, you should think about replacing your computer. It would be a good idea to disconnect your computer from the Internet so that you are not vulnerable to malware.
- Back up all files, documents, photos, etc. onto an external drive, flash drive or cloud storage site prior to upgrading your operating system or migrating your files to a new computer.
- Do not click on any links or pop-ups on your computer that claim to be from Microsoft Support if you're still using XP; they may be from scammers. Go directly to Microsoft's website for information on how to upgrade your system.
In addition to these tips, the Better Business Bureau offers businesses its free Data Security – Made Simpler guide, a step-by-step manual to help businesses take proactive steps to secure their data and strengthen trust with their customers.
Originally published on Business News Daily.