A Cyber Security Guide To Legacy Systems

Legacy systems are defined as hardware or software that either a vendor no longer supports, or that an organisation no longer maintains. 

These outdated systems are still used by organisations as they’re often essential to the operation of their business. Organisations may decide to keep unsupported systems to avoid disruption to their operations, however, this puts them at high risk of a security breach in the long term.

In this article, we examine the security risks that are associated with legacy systems and explore Cert NZ’s guide to mitigating risks in these systems.

Why Running Legacy Systems Puts You At Risk

Legacy systems leave the door wide open to cyber attacks as the outdated software no longer receives the critical patches necessary to defend against ever-evolving cyber threats.

As old and neglected systems continue to manage critical business data, the cyber security risks only grow as new vulnerabilities are discovered over time. Legacy systems also don’t operate in isolation, meaning attackers could compromise your legacy system to reach modern systems in your environment. The consequences could mean irrevocable data and financial loss for your business.

How To Avoid Legacy Systems

The good news is, businesses can stay on top of their environment to avoid legacy systems. Cert NZ has provided a list of goals every business should follow to prevent vulnerable systems. 

Make sure that:

  • All of your systems are within the software provider’s support lifecycle.
  • Your organisation maintains the system with regular patching and backups.
  • You have a complete view of your environment and know the lifetime of each system.
  • You’re prepared to replace or upgrade the systems before their end of life.

Replacing or upgrading a system can be challenging for most businesses, considering the cost, resources and time involved. Especially when the business operations rely heavily on that particular system. Although these barriers may deter you from migrating to a new system, the decision to keep operating on a legacy system only considers the short-term impact, not the long-term implications. 

If your business is operating on a legacy system, it is important to replace or remove it. As an interim measure, Cert NZ recommends following their Mitigating Legacy Systems guide for reducing your risk of a cyber breach.

Reduce Your Security Risk – Get A Cyber Security Assessment On Your Business

Legacy systems carry substantial risk of security breaches, data theft and system failures in organisations, as cyber criminals continue to target vulnerable systems.

At Great Outcomes, our aim is to educate our readers on the importance of protecting their data against ransomware and other threats with modernised cyber security solutions.

Contact us today to get advice on how to manage your security risks with a cyber security assessment.

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