Half of councils using unsupported server software

New research has revealed that a worrying number of councils are leaving themselves open to security vulnerabilities and expensive extended support costs.

COMPAREX UK submitted freedom of information requests to all London Borough, metropolitan, and county councils in England and found that 46 per cent are still using one or more of Windows Server 2000, Windows Server 2003, or Microsoft SQL Server 2005, all of which are now out of extended support, meaning customers no longer receive regular security patches.

24 per cent of respondents said they were still running Windows Server 2000 or Windows Server 2003 specifically, and, of those 94 per cent indicated plans to upgrade within the next two years. If the threat of malware hacking not enough for IT departments, Windows Server 2003 currently has nearly 150 known significant vulnerabilities.

Ninety-four per cent of councils said they were also currently running Windows Server 2008, and the same number said they were currently running Windows SQL Server 2008. Both products are already out of mainstream support, with extended support ending in the next two years.

Chris Bartlett said: “By continuing to run out-of-date server software, many councils are exposing themselves to a host of security and compliance risks. The FOI data suggests that matters are slowly improving, as separate FOI requests to London Borough councils back in 2016 showed that 70 per cent were running unsupported server software. However, with GDPR now in effect, councils need to be even more cognisant of vulnerabilities – especially considering the volume of citizen data they hold. With that in mind, it is important that risks are managed, and councils establish an upgrade strategy.”

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