Three things affecting your computer, and the way you use it, that is.
Carl Holiday, a legal practitioner, gives legal entrepreneurs a heads-up on three major changes that will affect computers in 2020. A must read for every lawyer running their own practice!
We tend to think of our computers as permanent and always working, especially our office computers. This is not true. Like everything else, computers age, change and need to be updated. Sometimes those updates are forced on us. This is heads-up on three major changes coming to computers in 2020. It will affect the way we work.
- Windows 10 Updates
Microsoft has finally managed to roll out updates directly to its Windows 10 Operating System. Semiautomated, cloud based updates sound like a really good idea, but that is unfortunately not always the case. As recently as 31 October 2019 PC Gamer reported that Microsoft had rolled out Windows 10 Updates to the wrong users! The full article is can be found here [ pcgamer.com/microsoft-somehowmanaged-to-push-a-windows-10-update-to-the-wrong-users/ ]. More on Windows 10 updates can be found here [ https://support.microsoft.com/en-za/search? query=windows%2010%20updates ]
Why is this important? It affects the way our computers work directly, and often immediately, without warning. Coming into the office the next morning and seeing a ‘Please do not turn off your computer message’ while nothing seems to happen, very disturbing. Also, certain functionality is affected after updates. The most common appears to be Windows Security resets, which often breaks network access.
- The End of Windows 7 – 14 January 2020
Microsoft has confirmed the end of support for Windows 7. The official notice is here: [https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/windows/end-of-windows-7-support ]. This means that from that date, no official support for Windows 7 systems will be available. This does not mean that Windows 7 computers will suddenly stop working. Those computers will continue to work, and may still do so for years to come, but those old Windows 7 computers (Windows 7 is ten years old!) will now become the weakest link in any computer network. Weak links which can be exploited by hackers and malicious software, creating operational risks which even law firms are not immune to.
Remedial Action? Windows 7 will soon become a risk on office networks. With no official support, any remedial action will be limited in scope and efficacy. The only real solution is the replacement of Windows 7 computers with, new computers, probably running Windows 10.
We should not see Windows 7 after 14 January 2020.
- The End of Flash Player – 31 December 2020
Adobe Flash Player is a very powerful tool for internet applications, and it’s largely invisible. So why is it important? Ever seen a website with a capsule running, saying Loading… 55% ? Chances are, that was Flash Player. Flash makes animation and entertaining website possible, but it is also used for certain interactive website, some of the secure. Best example? SARS Efiling! [ https://secure.sarsefiling.co.za/EFDotNet/Flex/download/Floater.htm ]
With the end of Flash [https://theblog.adobe.com/adobe-flash-update/ ] comes the end of an era. Microsoft has already indicated that Flash will be automatically removed using automatic updates [ https://support.microsoft.com/en-za/help/4520411/adobe-flash-end-of-support ], in favor of HTML5.
The short term implication is that some websites will have to be redesigned. The long term implication is that with the move to HTML5, web traffic may in fact be a little less, benefiting us all.
We do however face a potentially massive problem if SARS does not implement a working alternative by the end of 2020. This has the very real potential to upset next year’s Christmas holidays.
Why Should You Care?
Remote Desktop Services Remote Code Execution Vulnerability – quite a fancy description which means that unauthorized persons may log in to your old Windows XP computer and run any kind of software they like. This is exactly what is happening now. Microsoft first warned of this in May 2019. The BlueKeep vulnerability is now upon us. Basically, all older versions of Microsoft Windows are affected. Computers exposed to the internet or connected to networks facing the internet are at risk. BlueKeep specifically targets the built in Remote Desktop Protocol used for internet based access.
The official Microsoft notice refers to this as CVE-2019-0708 and you can read all about it here [https://portal.msrc.microsoft.com/en-US/security-guidance/advisory/CVE-2019-0708 ]
By ignoring warnings and running outdated and unsupported technology, risks are increased.
The message is obvious. You cannot ignore the warnings and it is time to update, upgrade and replace.
(Note, see above for Windows 7)
Carl Holliday BProc LLB (NWU) is a non-practising legal practitioner in Pretoria.