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Fukushima power plant still operating on unsupported Windows XP

Considering how horrific the ‘fallout’ at the Fukushima nuclear power plant was following the meltdown of several of its reactors in 2011, it seems fair to give its operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), some leeway for overlooking certain non-critical aspects of its operation. However, keeping its computer systems updated isn’t one of those, and now an independent watchdog has called out the corporation for saving money by not upgrading its computers from the now-unsupported Windows XP.

“Upgrading the operating system must be done as swiftly as possible, and the firm must not push it back given the security risks,” the board of the independent auditing organization concluded, via NDTV.

The group is usually responsible for pointing out wasteful tax spending, but in this instance it felt the need to announce that TEPCO was taking unnecessary security risks with its systems by not upgrading. Indeed, Microsoft itself made a big point of advising people last year that they should stop using the OS as it had officially ended its extended support.

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In response to the organization’s recommendations, TEPCO has now issued a statement indicating that it plans to upgrade its computers to a supported operating system in the near future. It went out of its way, though, to suggest that its decision had nothing to do with being called out on its lax security.

“The company decided, on its own initiative, to move up the deadline to update the software due to system security concerns,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

Whatever the reason, TEPCO should consider bringing this forward as much as possible, as sophisticated contemporary malware has shown a penchant for going after important facilities like nuclear power stations. Especially malware created by state-sponsored hackers.

It’s even more serious if you factor in Japan’s relationship with its neighbors, North Korea and China, both known as among the world’s most prolific hacking nations.