Almost half of councils using unsupported server software, FOI finds

Ageing versions of Windows Server remain in widespread use, according to research

Credit: Jason Scott/CC BY 2.0

Almost half of local authorities in England are using unsupported software, research has claimed.

Freedom of Information requests sent in April to 95 councils across England found that 46% of these are still using at least one of Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003, or Microsoft SQL Server 2005.

Extended support for these products ended in July 2010, July 2015, and April 2016, respectively. This means, in all cases, Microsoft no longer provides any security updates for the products, potentially leaving customers still using them more vulnerable to threats.

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The FOI responses, which were provided following requests sent by IT firm Comparex UK, found that 24% of respondents were running one or both of the 2000 or 2003 editions of the Microsoft tools, while 38% were running the 2005 version.

Some 94% of authorities are using Windows Server 2008, with the same amount running Windows SQL Server 2008. Both are now out of mainstream support – meaning users have to pay for continued support for the products. Extended support for the former ends on 14 January 2020, with the latter exiting all forms of support on 9 July 2019.

Chris Bartlett, business unit director – public sector at Comparex UK, said: “By continuing to run out-of-date server software, many councils are exposing themselves to a host of security and compliance risks.”

FOI requests were sent to the councils of all 32 London boroughs, as well as 36 metropolitan councils and 27 county councils across the rest of England.

Windows Server products are a group of server operating systems from Microsoft. Although a server OS was included in the Windows 2000 product suite, the Windows Server brand was effectively launched with the 2003 edition of the software. Now, about five in six servers worldwide run on a version of Windows Server. 

Sam Trendall

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