66% of devices in small-to midsized businesses are based on expired or about-to-expire Microsoft OS versions, Alert Logic study found.

New research underscores security weaknesses in small-to midsized businesses including a dependence on antiquated Microsoft operating systems, encryption misconfigurations, poor patching regimes, and reliance on outdated Exchange 2000 email servers.

The findings, published this week by Alert Logic, demonstrate how resource-strapped SMBs increasingly are vulnerable in the face of today’s cyber threats.

Some 66% of SMB devices surveyed run Microsoft OS versions that are expired or will expire in the next six months. The majority of devices scanned by Alert Logic for the study currently run Windows versions that are more than 10 years old. Microsoft will discontinue support for Windows 7 and Windows 2008 Server on January 14, 2020.

“What we suggest is for [SMB] security pros to read the report, understand it, and then take the findings to their management so business executives can better understand why it’s important to make an investment in security,” says Jack Danahy, senior vice president for security at Alert Logic. “If they even do one thing, focusing on patching will make a big difference. They should also put a mitigation control in for better monitoring.””

Alert Logic also found other weak security practices by SMBs:

Encryption misconfigurations

According to the Alert Logic research, 42% of SMB security issues are related to encryption. While automated patching has helped to reduce the frequency of vulnerabilities, configuration remains a major issue. This includes misconfiguring SSL encryption, not configuring Amazon S3 buckets properly, and providing improper access credentials to employees.

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