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National Insecurity? Navy Still Using Windows XP

National Insecurity? Navy Still Using Windows XP

by P. H. MadoreJune 28, 2015

windows-xpIt has been widely reported that the Navy is insisting on using Windows XP, but what cannot be talked about enough are the security implications of this.

Windows XP was notoriously insecure even when it was in normal usage, but now that it’s ancient, the details on how to hack into an XP network are easy to get. Worse, the Navy insists on keeping this system even as this is public knowledge. It would take time and money, but an upgrade to either a newer version of Windows or to some Linux or other open-source option would make things vastly more secure for the sections of the Navy that are subjected to this policy.

Now, there will always be those who argue that it’s mostly the behavior of users that influences the security of a given network. This could be true, but there are exploits on XP systems which just aren’t possible on newer systems, or on Linux.

Bad Idea

Sticking with XP for any reason is a monumentally bad idea, in any case, even if you can’t, for some reason, switch over to Linux, then you should update to a newer version of Windows, even 7 would be better. There is simply no good justification for going with such an old operating system. You are the naval force of the most powerful nation in the world. You should, across the board, be using the most updated software on all of your systems. If cost is an issue, then use something that is free, which there are such alternatives out there.

Also read: Good Luck Hiding From These Bullets: DARPA Unleashes Self-Guiding 50 Caliber Rounds

There are secure alternatives available that wouldn’t cost anything for the Navy to use. They may have to pay to have some of their computer guys learn to use the software and code for it, but other than that, they’d from thereafter get free updates and so on. That’s just the way it works with open source software. Not to mention that every computer would now be secure and receiving regular updates. Thus Linux is always an option, but they never seem to consider it, for whatever reason. They’d rather stick with an ancient, insecure version of Windows.

There seems no other good reason to stick with an old operating system, although it was reported that Microsoft would make some money supporting the Navy in this endeavor. All of that is rather ridiculous. There are such better alternatives to this, for less money, in the end. But that doesn’t seem to matter to the Navy. The Navy seems settled in its decision to run with an old version of Windows, and the whole thing seems ridiculous.

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  • I assume you are referring to the US navy, it’s just that there is no mention at all as to which navy exactly you’re referring to?

  • BrianC

    Ok, there are plenty of reasons, mostly cost. Time translates to cost as well.

    I worked for the Air Force on a system that interfaced to custom hardware. That hardware was very expensive. The software was provided by the hardware vendor. The software for the version of hardware we had only worked on XP. There is no Linux option for the functionality this software / hardware provided.

    The only upgrade path was to replace operating systems (which required newer servers as well) and the custom software, which also required replacing the custom hardware. For this relatively small system, it would cost several millions of dollars, plus the time it takes to integrate, test and validate the new configuration, plus the fielding of the system at multiple sites.

    That was one tiny system within the Air Force. A minuscule slice of the pie. And in these days of budget crunching, finding several millions of dollars to upgrade a system that works perfectly fine is difficult, if not impossible.

    Oh yeah, one other factor. This system, as most critical DoD systems, is not connected to the public internet. One would have to have access to the DoD’s secure network to even begin hacking into this system.

  • rmiers1

    only one reason to stick with winXP, laziness. These clowns are supposed to protect us and our families. Linux us free so cost is only in the cost of smart people to set up and train.
    Government bureaucrats are worthless, and may be the death of our country.