Unsupported Software

Business Challenge

Unsupported software can become a security problem for any organisation.

Click here for 6 reasons to keep your software up to date

Software can become unsupported for various reasons, such as not procuring support and extended support services, or the software reaching end-of-life or end-of-support.

End of life refers to the point when a vendor stops issuing updates or giving continued support, as vendors turn their focus to newer products or versions. This is typically announced in advance to allow customers to effectively plan for extended support or upgrades. End of life products may continue to be supported by the original vendor under support subscription contracts.

End of support refers to when vendors cease support and security patches for a specific piece of software. EOS software will generally have already reached EOL, making this the last time the original vendor will provide skills and support for the product.

Maintaining unsupported software creates security threats due to the lack of patches and updates.

Known vulnerabilities are no longer covered by the software provider as they turn their focus and skills to developing and supporting newer products and versions.

Cyber Security

Cyber security is jeopardised when software is left unsupported.

With cyber attacks becoming more sophisticated with developments in viruses, malware, and other attack methods, software with vulnerabilities become a prime target. Data and systems are at risk of breaches as they become easier to access with a lack of vulnerability patches.

This unsupported software may be an attack surface that grants access to wider systems, putting data and services across an organisation at risk; not just the single system of access. This is true for accessing suppliers and customer systems should these integrations exist.

Compliance

Many industry regulations state that software must be supported in some capacity. Should companies not comply with these regulations they may face audits and hefty fines.

This is most sensitive in industries and organisations that manage large volumes of customer or staff data such as financial or health related information. These companies will not only face scrutiny from the regulator, but customers as well if there are issues with how and where their data is stored and managed.

Incompatibility

Unsupported software tends to be ‘older.’ This software is designed and built to run in combination with other systems and hardware of the time.

The longer an organisation maintains their older, unsupported, software, the less likely they are going to be able to integrate with other, newer, systems. This can pose risks of non-scalability as key systems are either developing or being left behind. Manual intervention will be required more frequently to retrieve the data from the older system that cannot integrate across the organisation.

Cost

Large costs are associated with maintaining out of date and unsupported software.

These costs may arise from managing the aftermaths of a data breach, procuring extended support, paying regulation fines, or to cover downtime of key systems and services.

Costs from unsupported software can be mitigated by weighing the pros and cons of maintaining the system.

  • Is the software available as a newer version?
  • Are core processes and systems supported by this unsupported software?
  • What is at risk if there is a breach?
  • How much will extended support cost compared to upgrading or finding an alternative software?

The Solution

There are two main solutions to managing the risks associated with unsupported software. These include purchasing extended support, or upgrading to a newer (or the latest) version of the software.

extended support

Extended Support

Extended support can be provided by the original software vendor or a third-party provider. This will allow you to keep the software supported with relevant skills and knowledge in the case of an issue, but will not provide patches for any core vulnerabilities.

Extended support can be expensive, but this needs to be weighed up against the cost of workload migration and potential downtimes. Maintaining unsupported software through extended support is a convenient solution for organisations that run key processes on older versions of software that is reliable. With this in mind, though, a risk assessment over what happens if the software is corrupted should be made.

Upgrading

Upgrading to a newer or latest version of your software will ensure you have more time before the version becomes end-of-life or support. This means you continue to receive patches and improvements from the vendor as they are continuously developing their product.

By upgrading, organisations do not have to pay for extended support, allowing them to lower the maintenance costs associated with their software.

Upgrading software can be a daunting process, so finding the right technical skills to complete workload migrations is important to ensure applications are not lost, and the risk of organisational disruption is mitigated.

upgrading

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