‘Like swimming in a pool of sharks’ – less than one in 4,000 Met Police PCs running latest version of Windows

More than half of force’s PC estate still running on unsupported Windows XP operating system

Microsoft says PCs running on XP are not protected and urges users to migrate to Windows 10 – Credit: PA

Less than one in every 4,000 computers currently used by the Metropolitan Police is running on Windows 10.

The Met operates a total of 35,211 PCs, according to London mayor Sadiq Khan’s response to a question from Assembly member Steve O’Connell. Of these, the majority – some 18,293 – still run on Windows XP, the 16-year-old operating system for which support ended in April 2014, rendering it more vulnerable to security risks. The force also has a total of 14,450 PCs running Windows 8.1, which was released in 2013. Additionally, there are 2,458 non-networked “standalone machines” for which no information is available.

But there are currently just eight computers operating on Windows 10, despite the latest iteration of Microsoft’s flagship OS having been available for almost two years. This means that, for every one Metropolitan Police PC with Windows 10 installed, there are another 4,400 running a more outmoded version.

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The mayor’s answer says that “there is an ongoing programme to upgrade operating systems.” But O’Connell said that, as long as its PC estate remains full of an unsupported OS, the force is vulnerable to attack.

“The Met is working towards upgrading its software but, in its current state, it’s like a fish swimming in a pool of sharks,” he said. “It is vital the Met is given the resources to step up its upgrade timeline before we see another cyberattack with nationwide security implications.”

On its website, Microsoft advises users of the urgency with which they should migrate from XP to Windows 10.

“PCs running Windows XP after April 8 2014 should not be considered to be protected, and it is important that you migrate to a current supported operating system – such as Windows 10 – so you can receive regular security updates to protect their computer from malicious attacks,” says the software vendor.

Sam Trendall

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