London’s Met Police still running 27,000 Windows XP desktops
Tue 9 Aug 2016
London’s Met Police has missed its deadline for abandoning the out-of-date operating system Windows XP, as findings reveal 27,000 computers still run on the software two years after official support ended.
Microsoft stopped issuing updates and patches for Windows XP in Spring 2014, meaning that any new bugs and flaws in the operating system are left open to attack. A particularly risky status for the UK capital’s police force – itself running operations against hacking and other cybercrime activity.
The figures were disclosed by Conservative politician Andrew Boff. The Greater London Assembly member said: ‘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.’
Boff added that his main concern was for the security of Londoners’ data ‘on this dangerously out-of-date system.’ He also expressed a wish to understand how much money the Met has put towards bespoke security updates, referring to expensive custom support deals public organisations had set up with Microsoft post-XP expiration.
The UK government paid £5.5 million to establish a tailored support package with Microsoft, however this is though to have terminated in April 2015. The government said at the time that it expected most of its XP devices to mitigate any risks, using the CESG guidance. Where this was not possible, the government suggested that departments would need to review their own short-term transition support.
According to Boff, the Met has upgraded 8,000 of its 35,000 desktops from XP since last year, and it plans to upgrade a further 6,000 by this September. However, the organisation has chosen to upgrade to 8.1, rather than Window’s latest OS, Windows 10.
‘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,’ said Boff. ‘Staff are likely to be more familiar with Windows 10, but most importantly it will be supported further into the future.’
Earlier this year, the Met defended its decision to select 8.1 over Windows 10, arguing that it would be too much effort ‘leapfrogging’ straight from XP to Windows 10 – ‘Once we’re on 8.1, the great thing is we can do an in-place upgrade to Windows 10 because it’s not a new kernel…’
Boff has urged Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to reassess the Met’s upgrade strategy, and better plan its future migration schedule.