Several pictures released by the Kremlin have confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is still using the obsolete and unpatched-for-five-years Windows XP desktop operating system.
The news comes as a major surprise considering that Russian armed forces, security agencies, and intelligence arms are using the custom Astra Linux open-source operating system that is designed to protect top-secret data and communications and is certified by the Russian Defence Ministry and the FSB.
The custom operating system was granted official certification by the Russian Federal Service for Technical and Export Control (FSTEC) in April this year and is expected to be used by all government ministries and departments in the future after being adopted universally by Russian armed forces.
Even though Microsoft ceased all technical and security support for the Windows XP operating system in 2014 and since 2016, actively promoted the latest Windows 10 OS, even offering a free upgrade to the latter for a long period of time, it is not uncommon to encounter individuals and businesses who still use Windows XP or other outdated operating systems.
In July this year, a study by Alert Logic found that two out every three devices used by SMBs (66 percent) were running versions of the Windows operating system that had either expired, were unsupported, or were due to expire by January next 2020. Many of these devices ran Windows versions that are over ten years old.
“Once the operating system is no longer supported by Microsoft, no further research is done to identify or resolve vulnerabilities, and no new patches are developed to fix flaws in the operating system. Running outdated and unsupported operating systems exposes these SMBs to significant risk.
“In addition, most regulatory and industry compliance frameworks require than operating systems are patched and up to date, which means that running an unsupported operating system makes compliance impossible,” says Tony Bradley, Senior Manager of Content Marketing for Alert Logic.
While it is possible that a large number of people may not be able to distinguish between different versions of the Windows operating system or may not realise the advantages of upgrading to the latest version of the OS they are using, it is difficult to understand why a world leader like Putin would use Windows XP when other government departments and military agencies are using highly secure custom software.
Kremlin is yet to respond to queries or state the reason behind Putin’s puzzling decision to use Windows XP. We will update this story once more information trickles in from official Russian sources.