Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2 and Windows Small Business Server 2003 will reach the end of their supported life July 14, 2015. On this date, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates, patches, hot fixes, or any other support outside of free online content. As a result, Windows Server 2003 will quickly become the server equivalent of today’s Windows XP – a major security risk.

There are a lot of Windows Server 2003 machines out there still and many are running mission critical applications. Even though the end-of-life date has been widely publicized, many business still are unaware or have no plans in place to upgrade their servers. Granted, the large number of Windows 2003 still in use is a byproduct of the worst financial crisis most of us have seen in our lifetime. But that doesn’t change the fact that there is a lot of work in front of many businesses in order to maintain a current network. Let’s face it, if you don’t already have a plan in place, it will be a last-minute scramble.

Security issues for Windows Server 2003

Once extended support for Windows Server 2003 ends, new security issues won’t be fixed by Microsoft. This will leave machines vulnerable to attack; there are already several known serious vulnerabilities in Windows XP that will never be patched and I’m sure Windows Server 2003 will be no different. This situation presents not only a huge security risk, but also a compliance nightmare, as running end-of-life software is seen as a control failure by most compliance and regulatory standards.

To avoid such a scenario, small businesses must begin the task of planning to replace their Windows Server 2003 operating systems now. This does not need to be an entirely complicated process but will be a little more so that is was for Windows XP.

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Scott Johnson COO, KLH  651-328-6121