As infrastructure evolves, systems commonly used ten years ago will no longer be appropriate, as modern hardware has become so much faster and at the same time current cloud computing services model’s IaaS, PaaS and SaaS are now allowing you to reduce your costs. So, the question you must ask yourself is; Are legacy systems still relevant? Legacy systems can be older hardware, older software or even a mixture of both and whilst they are still being used they can become a major security risk as they can offer an easy route of entry into your system.

Why are legacy systems still being used?

Legacy Systems are often still in use by small businesses, as they help to save on the amount time and money that is required to upgrade or replace what they are using. The software that a business is already using might be bespoke software specifically designed for them or updated versions of what they are using will likely have features that they don’t need or will take away features that they do need. Further to this, Legacy software might only work on older operating systems that cannot be installed on modern hardware. For instance, NASA still use legacy systems on their space crafts as they know how the systems work and they are also able to keep them in a closed secure environment where nobody can find backdoor to access them. As the cost of cloud computing service model’s come down in cost, you can easily modernize your I.T. infrastructure at an affordable price and use virtual machines to run any legacy systems that you need

What are the security risks when using legacy systems?

When legacy systems are still in use, there will no longer be updates which include security patches for any software and operating systems that are being utilized. This makes it easier for hackers to find a way of entering into your I.T. infrastructure which means that data can then be stolen or encrypted by ransom-ware. With the migration of data storage to the cloud, it is often wondered why USB sticks are still being used as they can easily leave businesses open to their data being stolen or viruses and ransom-ware spreading throughout the I.T infrastructure.

What can be done to secure any legacy systems still being used?

Whilst legacy systems are still being used, there are certain measures that you can take that will ensure there is less chance of a security breach taking place. The first thing you should do is ensure that any legacy systems being used are no longer on your network; this will ensure that nobody can use them as an entrance into your main systems. It is also a good idea to implement restricted access to any legacy systems running, as the only personnel who should be allowed access are the ones who need to use it as part of their daily job role. In the case of data sharing, it is advised that that you move towards using DropBox, Google Drive or other cloud storage options.

Is there a way that you can incorporate legacy systems with your modern infrastructure?

If legacy systems are to be used, there is a free solution available that will allow you to securely incorporate them into any of the modern I.T. systems that you might be using. By installing a virtual machine on one of your computers, you will be able to install older operating systems such as Windows XP and any other software that will only work on that operating system.  Computer technology giant Oracle has  developed a great free product called Oracle VirtualBox which includes cross-platform support and works on Windows 10 Home and Pro. The Oracle VirtualBox is also small, quick and easy to setup. All you will need is ISO images of any operating systems and software that you want to use on your virtual machine.

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