How Serious is the End of Support for Windows Server 2003?

After so many warnings about the end of support Windows Server 2003 (and last year, end of support for Windows XP), it might be easy to think that IT professionals are alarmists. How can end of support for Server 2003 be that serious? Unfortunately, it is as dramatic as it sounds. It is, literally, the end of support for this Microsoft product: if something goes wrong, there is no help.

Now that support for Server 2003 is over, as of July 14, 2015, these are the three major issues businesses and organizations face if they continue to use Server 2003.

  1. Security vulnerabilities.Businesses that fail to migrate to a new version of Windows Server are opening the door to cybercriminals and welcoming hackers. Businesses running Server 2003 are sitting ducks without protection from future attacks, and cybercriminals know it. Microsoft will no longer provide security patches or critical fixes. There is no doubt hackers are already at work preparing attacks.
  2. Non-compliance.Small businesses running Server 2003 are no longer compliant with numerous privacy and protection statues, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). HIPAA and other compliance standards require frequent updates to operating systems and infrastructure meet requirements—but Server 2003 is now stagnant and will become increasingly unprotected. All small businesses in the healthcare industry need to understand the ramifications of being non-compliant.
  3. Time and money.Many businesses continue to use legacy, out-of-date, and unsupported software because it continues to work for them. Many avoid upgrading because that means new hardware and more money, but this is short-term thinking that compounds and increases long term risk… and the costs of that risk. The cost of regular maintenance and prompt upgrades is far less than the cost of compliance fines, security breaches, and lost business. It is more expensive to wait.In addition, the extra time that business spend patching and maintaining legacy software will add up to lost productivity and higher labor costs. Any savings from not upgrading will be lost soon.

The end of support date for Windows Server 2003 has come and gone—and that means if you haven’t already upgraded, we encourage you to do so promptly. End of support is not a flash in the pan alarm: vulnerabilities, risks, and a myriad of inconveniences will only increase over time for those running legacy software.