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Internet Age
US Navy Clicks to Ignore Updates

The U.S. Navy has commissioned Microsoft to extend support for its suite of Windows XP applications from 2003, for which the company had discontinued service last year. IDG news has more information on the arrangement:

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which runs the Navy’s communications and information networks, signed a $9.1 million contract earlier this month for continued access to security patches for Windows XP, Office 2003, Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003.

The entire contract could be worth up to $30.8 million and extend into 2017.

The situation isn’t unique among our most important government operations—the IRS, for example, has just begun its migration from XP to 2009’s Windows 7—many of which still run on obsolete systems. Without the extended support from Microsoft, the Navy’s systems would be “more susceptible to intrusion … and could lead to loss of data integrity, network performance and the inability to meet mission readiness of critical networks.” Following a year that saw unprecedented growth in data-related hacks, it is alarming that a pillar of our national defense complex is lagging so far in the past. As we pointed out at the new year, the web-based threats loom ever-more dangerously, even as we store more of our lives online.

Much of the rise in cyber-related crime is attributable to the multiplication of our internet usage and our penchant for monitoring and storing everything we do. Still, the Obama administration, which has endured its own fair share of tech-gafs, is not blameless. At a moment when the Director of National Intelligence has deemed cyber terrorism the largest threat facing our country, it is essential that our government be proactive in maintaining and improving our virtual security apparatuses. Stories like this show just how high the mountain still is to climb.

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  • dawnsblood

    I kind of expect it. When I was in the Army in the ’90s, I worked with lots of equipment that was over 20 years old. Old equipment is going to run old software. Imagine the defense budget if the military replaced all their equipment every 10 years. The Air Force alone would bankrupt us and it is the smallest of the services . . .

  • Andrew Allison

    What’s really outrageous it the fact that, with Windows 10 due to be released next month, the IRS has begun a migration to Windows 7!! In defense of the Navy, it began the transition away from XP two years ago, but because Windows 7 (and 10) requires a four-times faster processor and 16-times more memory than XP, in most cases it requires a whole new system in addition to porting any custom (non-Microsoft) apps. The fact that the contract runs for two years may be a sign of hope.

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