End of Life (EOL) Are You Safe?

Categories: Best Practices Cyber Security Awareness Month End Users Howtos Information Security Uncategorized updates Upgrades

We all know about our software always wanting to install updates. Windows, Office, Adobe, Zoom, and just about any other software we install. At some point your software wants you to install, buy, download, or do an upgrade to a new version. This usually means the previous software versions will no longer be supported, End of Life (EOL). Now, this doesn’t mean the software will no longer work but it means it will no longer be supported.  

Why should we be concerned about a software application that will be EOL? When software becomes unsupported there are a few things that change: 

  1. No more security updates to prevent hacks 
  2. The loss of protection against potential viruses 
  3. The software may not work with our new device or computer 
  4. No more bug fixes 
  5. No more performance and reliability updates 

Earlier this year many of us had to upgrade to Windows 10 because Windows 7 was EOL on January 14th, 2020. If we did not upgrade, our machine would be open to malicious attacks because Microsoft stopped providing security updates. With the release of Windows 10 Microsoft changed the way they do version upgrades. Versions of Windows now look more like something like this: Windows 10, version 1909. These version releases are aimed to being released twice a year. Their projected months of release are March and September. The version number is coded with the first two digits are the year and the second two are the month of when it was released 1909 = Year was 2019 and Month was September. These versions also become EOL and will eventually need to be upgraded. You can find out more about Microsoft’s EOL versions here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/13853/windows-lifecycle-fact-sheet

The Windows operating system isn’t the only software that needs to be updated. Microsoft Office is also affected by EOL. You may be running an old version which is missing important patches, fixes and features. Another consideration when looking at EOL of products is Mainstream Support vs. Extended Support. Mainly the difference between the two is Mainstream Support provides feature updates, security updates, and bug fixes. The next layer of support could be Extended Support which usually means you will only get security updates. Microsoft has made an easy way to look up EOL on their products via the search bar on this page: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/lifecycle/search If you look at this page and search for Office 2016 you will see Mainstream Support ends on 10/13/2020 but Extended Support does not end until 10/14/2025.

So, how can I find information about software I use other than from Microsoft? The best way is to visit the software site and find your version. This may tell you when your EOL date is for that version. Another way is to type in a web search for the product you have and using “EOL” or “End of Life” as part of the search. Just make sure the links you click for the product link to the manufacture’s page. For example, I searched for Adobe EOL and it suggested I visit this page: https://helpx.adobe.com/support/programs/eol-matrix.html Here I found a full list of Adobe products with their Versions, Release Dates, and End of Support dates.

Computing hardware (computers) can also have EOL dates. We update drivers on our computers, phones and tablets as well. Hardware can also have vulnerabilities that lead to security risks, bugs and compatibility issues. With hardware the thing to worry about the most is compatibility. You may have an old computer that you can’t update to a new version of Windows, or it may upgrade to Windows 10, but you cannot get Adobe to work because your video card isn’t supported. Hardware should not be overlooked when thinking about upgrades.

So now what? Well, maybe it’s time to do some inventory. This means both software and hardware. Take note of what software versions and hardware you have and look them up online. Find those EOL dates and see if you need to upgrade or replace something. You don’t have to do this often since a lot of companies will usually give you EOL dates far in advanced so you can prepare. Try and do this about once a year and you should have plenty of time to get everything up to date.

-Mike Rasmussen

Reference Articles and EOL Links:
https://apps.okstate.edu/itannounce/index.php/module/FullStory/action/FullStory?id=16348&From=Home
https://www.spiceworks.com/it-articles/end-of-life-software-dangers/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End-of-life_(product)
https://helpx.adobe.com/support/programs/eol-matrix.html
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/lifecycle/search/1163
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/13853/windows-lifecycle-fact-sheet
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/lifecycle/faq/general-lifecycle

Written by: , DASNR IT

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