iVendi is reporting that 37% of its dealer users are still utilising the Windows 7 operating system as Microsoft withdraws support for the product.
Because official security updates will no longer be issued by Microsoft, this leaves customer data potentially very vulnerable to attack through viruses and malware, explained James Tew, CEO.
He said: “We have several thousand dealerships using our products in the UK, providing a good cross-section across franchises, independents and car supermarkets so our figure is, we believe, probably broadly representative of the total market.
“While this doesn’t affect the data security of our online motor retail products, which run within a browser environment, we can track which version of Windows is installed on each PC used to access our systems from our data analytics.
“The 37% we have recorded over the last 28 days looks like a surprisingly high percentage. There is no doubt that it means that a substantial number of dealers are creating a situation where any customer data stored on their hardware – for example, in a spreadsheet - will become more exposed to cyber attack with all the potential problems that may bring, ranging from legal issues to reputational damage.
“Essentially, if a security vulnerability is exposed in Windows 7 in the future, which is relatively likely because the technology is now quite old, no patches will be made available to resolve the problem. In it IT terms, it’s a leaky boat that is only going to take on more water as time passes.
“We’d urge dealers to seriously consider upgrading to a newer operating system. Microsoft is advising people to adopt Windows 10, which can be done at a reasonable cost and, as long as your hardware is capable of running it, this seems like the simplest route to resolving the problem.”
iVendi was operating an open door policy for dealers who needed advice about the best way to move off Windows 7 in order to protect customer data, James added.
“We are strongly advising dealers to take action and, where possible, will help them to make the transition to a newer system and ensure that their customer data is stored in a secure manner.”