Microsoft officially abandoned Windows XP this week and urged customers to upgrade, which means no more security updates and patches for the majority of users still running the operating system. According to research carried out over the weekend by security firm Malwarebytes, there are already plenty of scams and dodgy downloads that XP users should be steering clear of.
“XP may be dead and gone in terms of updates, but that doesn’t mean pitfalls and boobytraps have followed suit,” wrote Christopher Boyd, Malware Intelligence Analyst at Malwarebytes, on the company blog. Boyd and his team have discovered a variety of different threats that masquerade as useful security programs, key generators and setup files for XP.
One of the XP-related downloads spotted by the firm was for a driver update suite that users have to pay to register. It scored a 5/51 on Malwarebytes’ internal scoring system, which makes it a low-level threat, but Boyd advises against using unverified third-party applications to plug the holes that Microsoft has left. While commercial packages can help protect your copy of XP, look for products that are well-established and extensively reviewed by technology press outlets.
Boyd concludes: “Take care with the last minute surge of XP themed downloads and offers — whether on social networks, forums or video sharing sites a lot of what you’re going to see over the coming weeks will probably not do you any favours to install or sign up to.” For more on staying safe as a Windows XP user, see our guide to surviving the end of support.