Met Police’s insistence on running ageing Windows XP ‘putting Londoners’ personal data at risk’
It has been claimed the Metropolitan Police’s reliance on an older version of the Windows operating system could lead to Londoners’ information being put at risk.
The Met is currently using 27,000 computers running on Windows XP, which was first launched in 2001. For the last two years, it has no longer been supported by Microsoft, opening up security flaws. Last April it emerged the Met still had 35,000 systems powered by the ageing platform.
As a result, London Assembly Member Andrew Boff has publicly pleaded that the force updates its computer system. He said the Met needs to accelerate updating or risk putting valuable public data in the firing line.
Last year, it upgraded just 8,000 desktops to a newer version of Windows, but a further 6,000 will be updated by the end of 2016. Still, Boff believes that this isn’t enough and that upgrades should have been made in 2014, when support for XP ended.
He said: “Operating systems age more like milk than wine, and Windows XP is well past its sell-by date.
“The Met should have stopped using Windows XP in 2014 when extended support ended, and to hear that 27,000 computers are still using it is worrying.
Like many, he’s worried that important information could easily get into the wrong hands by using an out-of-date computer operating system. However, despite this, millions are still thought to be using XP.
Data at risk
Not long ago, the Dutch government paid more than £1 million for Microsoft to keep issuing security patches for the 14-year-old version of Windows, and the Met police could end up dishing out similar costs if it keeps using XP.
“My major concern is the security of Londoners’ information on this dangerously out-of-date system, but I would also like to know how much money the Met have wasted on bespoke security updates,” Boff continued.
“I also question the choice to upgrade to Windows 8.1. This is neither the newest version of Windows nor the most used version of the software. Staff are likely to be more familiar with Windows 10, but most importantly it will be supported further into the future.”
The assembly member is now calling on the Mayor of London to step in and ensure the force has a comprehensive plan in place to roll out updates.