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Are you still using Windows XP?

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#26 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 09:36 AM

Strangely enough I have found that old genealogy programs like Family Tree Maker run well using Linux and Wine. Even stuff that is incompatible with Windows 7 will work.
I don't do a lot of genealogy off the Internet though. It seems to me that genealogy is something where your info should be shared with friends relatives and other researchers. It has become a definitive Web-based activity for me. I spent a lot of time getting some paper-based genealogy my great aunts did in the 1940s onto the Internet.
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#27 OFFLINE   Digerati

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 10:27 AM

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No reason to get rid of something that still turns on, even though they are not useful for the modern internet.
Except when they become a threat to you, your family/other users of the computer, and to the rest of us - as XP systems connected to the Internet have the very real potential to be. You still don't have to get rid of the hardware, just XP. Or at lease make sure it is, and stays totally isolated from the Internet.

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Sometimes the only compatible computer is an original.
This is true. But then again, there is the option of buying new, secure and compatible software designed to run on under modern, secure operating systems too. Even if that means buying new hardware to support eh new OS and manually migrating the legacy data to the new software.

Nobody likes to throw out perfectly good and still totally functional things. But that's just a fact of life - especially in ever-advancing technologies. We all have done it with CRT TVs and monitors, 8-tracks, cassettes, VCRs, 4:3 monitors, PDAs, cell phones, and more. It is time to do the same with XP too. Or at the very least, make sure it stays disconnected from any network that has Internet access so it does not become a threat to the rest of us.

At some point (which has long passed) XP users must accept their responsibility as "netizens" and be concerned about the well being of our fellow Internet users - just as we all must be responsible drivers. If not for our own personal safety, but for the safety and security of our fellow netizens.

Bottom line: it is not just that XP has been superseded 4 times over. It is not even that XP is potentially unsafe for the XP user. It is because XP has become a threat to the rest of us that XP must go away!
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#28 OFFLINE   goretsky

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 08:32 PM

Hello,

Research does research, and, well, that's it.  The goal of the WLS  blog is to share findings, educate and provide nuanced commentary on news story (what is the real-world impact/does this really affect you/what should you do).  Occasionally there might be mention of our software, but it is usually in the context of "Detection of threat XYZ was added in version 123456 on $DATE."  There's a strong attitude against pushing product.  It hasn't always been that way--there was a period when a lot of what was published seemed like "ambulance chasing," e.g., parroting anything security-related that came out.  But in the end, quality won over quantity.  Now, bear in mind, there is a corporate blogthat is focused on the corporate side of things.

There are numerous places where I suggest getting off of Windows XP as soon as possible, starting with a boxed notation right after the table of contents.  But, again, this is for folks who are unable or unwilling to upgrade, so their options are going to be limited.

At this point, I think that everyone who has upgraded is going to, and what's left is a small (but still large in terms of absolute numbers) pool of computers left running it that are going to stay running it bar what insurance companies call "life-changing events."  So, the goal here was to get those systems into a state where some security controls and resiliency are in place.

I'm going to add an update to the blog post (but not the paper) about Secunia PSI being discontinued.  That should appear sometime on Monday.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky


View PostDigerati, on 28 March 2018 - 10:52 AM, said:

Well, I just read through that 48 page PDF! I have a love/hate opinion of it.

First, I feel it was an extremely well written, thorough and professionally produced product! :) That's the love part. I also did not get the impression it was written with the hidden agenda of promoting ESET products.

What I don't like is, despite the claims to the contrary, that it will be used as justification or an excuse for the remaining stubborn hold-outs to keep using XP. Because regardless how secure XP can be made today, a new vulnerability that will not be patched may come tomorrow. :(

I wish the following from page 38 was printed in bold, flashing, underlined, italicized, in your face, large font, and way at the very beginning as well as throughout the paper! Instead its almost as an afterthought so near the end. And context should have been added, IMO, to point out no direct access to the Internet is for everybody else's safety and security - not just XPs or that one machine. Connected infected XP systems are regularly used by the bad guys to attack the rest of us - to distribute spam and malware, or as zombies in bot armies in DDoS attacks.

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Although no computer running Microsoft Windows XP should ever have
direct access to the Internet for its own safety and security

****

Bad timing about Secunia PSI as they just announced it will no longer be available after April 20, 2018

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#29 OFFLINE   goretsky

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 08:40 PM

Hello,

I think the video camera issue might be related to the issue discussed here, here and here.  There may be a fix, or at least a workaround, available for this.  I actually wrote about this in my last white paper, which would be available for download from this blog article, if the link weren't broken (should be fixed on Monday).

I'm curious:  How much, if any, of the data on the old Windows XP and Windows 98 computers have you migrated to modern, supported operating systems?  Does some of it only reside on those EOL operating systems?

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky


View PostRobert, on 30 March 2018 - 01:03 AM, said:

I have an XP computer from 2008 with a Geovision video camera surveillance card that was upgraded to Windows 8.1 and later Windows 10, which the software was not certified to work with, but did.  Then one day after a Windows update the software no longer worked and reinstalling did not work, so it is back running XP.  It runs 24/7. The network connection is turned off.

I still have multiple XP computers that were for personal use, video editing, genealogy, and office use.  No reason to get rid of something that still turns on, even though they are not useful for the modern internet.  Occasionally I use them to open old word processing files, genealogy files, genealogy disks, or whatever was saved on an old floppy.

Last year I used my old Windows 98 computer to run an old genealogy program that didn't like 32 bit Windows XP. Windows 98 did not communicate properly on the home network and required a little upgrading in order to get a USB stick to work so I could save some files. Sometimes the only compatible computer is an original.

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#30 OFFLINE   Digerati

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 09:23 PM

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this is for folks who are unable or unwilling to upgrade, so their options are going to be limited.
I guess this is my problem when looking at this issue. Being "unable" is an entirely different category than those who are "unwilling".

Those who are unwilling, that is they refuse to migrate though able and who still connect these systems to the Internet (thus putting the rest of us at risk) should be taken out back and shot - or at least publicly flogged until they accept the reality that they are a danger to themselves, their families, and to society and, frankly, that they are reckless and rude. :angry:

They should not be lumped with those who are truly "unable".

Let's not forget that (1) Linux is totally free and supports virtually all types of "productivity" software out there. (2) Gaming is NOT a necessity. And (3), money is not really an obstacle considering Windows 10 refurbished systems are available dirt cheap from Best Buy, Walmart and other outlets. And note many of these under $200 systems will likely run circles around most of those legacy XP systems too.

So frankly, I really find it hard to believe most of the home users who are XP hold-outs are really "unable" to give up their XP systems for a secure W10 system that is not a threat to the rest of us.

That really only leaves the desperately poor individuals, companies on the verge of bankruptcy, and those systems running proprietary software where the developer is no where to be found. And that, I believe, leaves a much smaller number who truly are "unable" than we are led to believe.

To be sure, IF XP was not still a target of bad guys to use as weapons against the rest of us, I would not care one bit about this. But the fact of the matter is that XP is still a primary target and those compromised XP systems are being used to distribute spam and malware and as zombies in bot armies in DDoS attacks.

I do not live in an affluent school district. But even here there are programs available for underprivileged families with school-age kids to get computers, or ready access to computers.

And if someone is carrying around a $500 (or even a $1000 :blink:) smart phone claiming they cannot afford a W10 computer, I say BS!
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#31 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 01 April 2018 - 07:52 AM

In my opinion, the security software folks should concentrate on protecting the rest of us from the infected XP users and let them sink or swim. Certainly I have no sympathy for any XP user who gets a cryptovirus or other nasty worm. They should know better. However, I don't need a bot army doing DDOS attacks or writing spam.
In the past, I recommended Linux to replace XP. However, some XP machines are now so old (32-bit single core AMD processors) that even Linux is getting hard to run properly. There comes a time when old hardware just has to be recycled.
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#32 OFFLINE   Digerati

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Posted 01 April 2018 - 09:12 AM

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In my opinion, the security software folks should concentrate on protecting the rest of us from the infected XP users and let them sink or swim.
That's a good point and I believe the security program developers are trying and for the most part, doing a great job. The problem is humans are too gullible. We fall for scams too easily and "click" on things we shouldn't. That's why "social engineering" methods of malware distribution are so effective. The best security software in the world is useless if the user opens the door and invites the bad guy in.

Those of us participating in and reading this thread are likely disciplined to avoid being "click-happy" on unsolicited links, downloads, attachments and popups. And we are disciplined at keeping our systems updated. But some of us may have other users of our computers who lack such discipline. And of course, most users just are not that disciplined. In fact, that is exactly why Microsoft has decided to, by default, make sure Windows 10 is protected by Windows Defender and is kept updated by default with Windows Update. Microsoft would rather get blamed for being less flexible than allowing systems get infected. And I applaud them for that.

But as you noted, even if you and I keep our systems updated and secure, that does nothing to prevent compromised systems from launching DDoS attacks on our banks, our city's 911 call centers, airlines, GitHub, and other popular sites.

One of the more frustrating things for me is it is not like there was no warning about XP. Microsoft announced years in advance support was ending. We are actually going through the same thing right now with Vista but the user base is so tiny, the impact is just too insignificant.

But my fear is the lessons learned with XP will quickly be forgotten, or more likely ignored with Windows 7 - which I point out is already pushing 9 years old and Windows 7 mainstream support ended over 3 years ago! Even mainstream support for Windows 8.1 ended this last January yet users are still clinging to, even rolling back to W7 today - often due simply to false beliefs and misinformation. :(
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#33 OFFLINE   Robert

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Posted 02 April 2018 - 06:01 AM

I think and I hope that I have migrated all my important user data onto more modern hard drives, but I have a stack of old hard drives I will probably keep as backups forever. I also have 20 hard drives in removable cases that fit my Windows 2000 computer, most holding family video. I keep them as a backup. There is just too much video to go through to make sure the more modern copies didn't accidentally lose anything while being recopied over the years. The same for old documents and emails. I can't open all of them to make sure they are still intact.

For genealogy it is not always easy to use modern hardware. Last year I tried looking at some Family Search Pedigree Resource File CDs from the year 1999-2000 that could not be read on Windows 7 or 10, or XP.  There were 125 family tree CDs made between 1999 and 2005. Then they went to DVDs from 2006-2010 for the final 25 disks. Some of the later CDs have an updated program that allows me to use an XP computer to access the earliest CDs so I probably won't have to use the Windows 98 computer for them again. But I could not get them to work on Windows 7 or 10. Maybe one of the later DVDs that I do not have has been updated enough to work. Anyway, the main program holds an index which then tells you which of the 150 CD/DVDs has the file you want to look at, so you then insert that CD to read.  It is a slow process, but some of the data is not otherwise available anywhere and some of the people who submitted the genealogy are long gone.

I also received floppy disks that had data in a proprietary file that required the original program to convert to a more modern format. If I understood it correctly, the program is 16 bit but will run on a 32 bit version of Windows. So I used an old computer to access the data, then converted it to a format what works with modern Windows 10 compatible programs.

This could happen again and again with genealogy.  Distant relatives pass away and leave genealogy disks from the 1980s or 1990s that are in old file formats. One of my most active genealogy cousins is in her seventies and uses a program from 2008 (I think it is an older version of Family Tree Maker) and refuses to upgrade or share disks with anyone.  In ten or twenty years or more when she is gone someone will have to convert her data into a usable format for the time. That will likely require an old computer.

There is no need to fear my old computers will be used in bot attacks.  They are just turned on when needed and don't have enough processing speed or memory to display modern web pages or YouTube videos.  I do not think people who cannot afford a new computer would leave their old one running 24/7 and running up the electric bill.  Most of the people I know who are not upgrading, like my still active cousin, are running Windows 7.

#34 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 02 April 2018 - 07:32 AM

One of my cousins was a long time Bell technical employee and one of the first to use a personal computer for family genealogy. Unfortunately, his PC was one that ran CP/M. His files are now useless but before he passed away in the late 90s he gave me a paper printout. I have migrated all that stuff to the cloud (I pay Ancestry to keep it available.) I basically had to keypunch it from paper data.
I don't know why anyone would keep ancestral data private (living people are an exception.) And folks who insist on obsolete software or dying formats like floppy disks might as well make a paper printout because that is all that will be readable in 50 years.
I have the same worries about digital photo technology. I have family gathering photos from 1917 which are just as viewable today as when they were made. I wonder if 100 years from now anyone will be able to see the photos I took yesterday.

Edited by raymac46, 02 April 2018 - 07:39 AM.

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#35 OFFLINE   Digerati

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Posted 02 April 2018 - 10:33 AM

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I have a stack of old hard drives
I was in the same boat. I decided that boat was sinking and better do something about it. You should too.

How many of those old hard drives use the now obsolete EIDE (PATA) interface? There is a good chance your current computer may not support EIDE and an even greater chance your next computer definitely wont. The same thing is likely to happen to SATA as the SATA interface no longer provides the bandwidth needed to support the latest SSD speeds. For this reason, the PCIe interface is being used and that trend will likely continue to the point SATA will be phased out too.

Then as ramac46 noted, operating systems change and even programs to open/view those data files are phased out. Many of us saw this with PeachTree when WordStar took over. Then again with Word. Even as each new version of Word comes out, files need to be converted. So just keeping old data files may not be good enough. It is often necessary to convert them to new formats but even that can be a challenge with much older formats.

This same file format compatibility issue happens with files saved on memory sticks and optical disks too.

Another problem with old drives that have been sitting on the shelf for years is the drive motor lubricants can settle in the bottom of the bearing channels leaving the upper portions of the bearing tracks and the bearings in them dry. This can result in the bearings seizing. Or in some cases, the chemical composition of the lubricants breakdown and separate, again causing the bearings to seize.

So I think you should do what I did and get yourself a drive docking station like one of these. These are much more convenient than any cable and connector adapter setup. You connect these you a free USB port, then slip your drive in the slot and copy your files. You should do this with all of those drives. Then "wipe" all the drives.You can use CCleaner's Disk Wiper feature to wipe a hard disk. Or Eraser which uses DBAN technologies is popular too. So is KillDisk.

Windows 10 now includes an excellent wipe feature for hard drives too. From an elevated command prompt (Run as administrator), simply enter: format d: /p:3 then press Enter. This will format drive d and write 0s in every sector 3 times. Change the drive letter as necessary and the number to the desired number of additional passes. Note more than 1 pass is really overkill unless you are an international spy, the accountant for the mob or drug cartel, or have some other really incriminating materials on them. :ermm:

If you discover a drive is no longer readable, it should be physically destroyed. Beating the cr@p of them with a 16lb sledge hammer is a great stress reliever, but hard on the back. I used to just drill 3 holes through the drive about 1 inch from the center hub. But now we have access to a real drive shredder which are a lot more fun. If no shredder access, drill holes.

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his PC was one that ran CP/M.
This was actually one of the primary reasons XP was less secure from day 1. Corporations (Microsoft's largest user base) insisted XP supported all their legacy hardware and software because they did not want to go through the major expense (with no returns on the investment) of having to retool and buy all new hardware and software like they did before moving from CP/M to DOS, then from DOS to Windows 3.x, and again Windows 3.x to W95/98. They did not want to do it yet again going from W95/98 to XP. This forced Microsoft to sacrifice security for legacy support of less secure HW and SW. Of course then, the bad guys moved in but who got blamed? Not the corporations. Not even the bad guys. Microsoft did and that is why, starting with W7 they now put security above legacy support even though they knew and know they will still get blamed for failing to support our old hardware and software. But they would much rather get blamed for that instead of a lack of security - and I think they are right on that.
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#36 OFFLINE   Robert

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Posted 02 April 2018 - 10:29 PM

Ray, if you want another place to store a family tree for free there is a not very well known place on FamilySearch where you can upload a GEDCOM file. They say they will preserve them indefinitely.

You might need a free account and be sign signed in to see this page. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the submit tree button.

https://www.familyse...rg/family-trees

#37 OFFLINE   crp

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 06:46 PM

still have 5 XP pc's in use at work.
One is rarely used and on its way out as the user has already mostly used to W7.
one is used once a month, plan is in work to obviate the need .
one is used for a particular piece of software.
and one more is still being used way too much by someone who already has an W7 pc. this one is proving tough.
last one is on its way out, it was needed for something that required IE and Flash. that device has been replaced.
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#38 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 10:11 AM

View PostRobert, on 02 April 2018 - 10:29 PM, said:

Ray, if you want another place to store a family tree for free there is a not very well known place on FamilySearch where you can upload a GEDCOM file. They say they will preserve them indefinitely.

You might need a free account and be sign signed in to see this page. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the submit tree button.

https://www.familyse...rg/family-trees
Thanks Robert. I should probably do that to help them out. I have an account there and often use it.
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