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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Windows XP Computers


Microsoft has announced that they will no longer support Windows XP (and Office 2003) as of April 8, 2014.  This sunset of XP along with the increased security regulations under the HIPAA Final Rule will create a logistical and budgetary challenge for many MT businesses, healthcare organizations, and MT subcontractors.

Windows XP is often the preferred platform for enterprise-wide applications and individual users in the medical transcription industry.   Even with a VPN connection, there are at a minimum temporary files stored on the local PC that a good hacker can get at.   Configuration of the VPN login/logout process can be set so that all temporary files are deleted upon exiting the VPN which could help with security concerns.

Upgrading a PC from XP to Windows 7 is not for the faint of heart.   The hard drive must be completely wiped before the upgrade.  All data files must be saved to another location (jump drive, external hard drive, network drive, etc.).  Then after the upgrade all software will need to be reinstalled from original media so those CDs or access information will need to be gathered up prior to upgrading.   While IT experts are equipped to handle this, many others would find this to be quite challenging. 
Norton has taken a “wait and see” approach before committing to post demise of XP.   They have stated that they will continue to support their program.  However, they have qualified that “Symantec Support may not be able to provide full threat resolution on XP systems due to a lack of Microsoft security patches.”  See these links for those formal announcements.

It will be an unknown element as to how at risk PCs are without support from Microsoft or how soon that risk will be increased after the official sunset date of April 8, 2014.   Traditionally, however, hackers have taken advantage of this vulnerability so there is clearly the potential for high risk.   With the guarantee of no support from Microsoft and the limited ability of vendors such as Norton to commit to security on Windows XP computers after April 2014, the risk to PHI outweighs the benefit of utilizing out-of-date and technically unsupported hardware.  
We recommend that healthcare organizations, MT services, and MTs take a proactive approach to this issue.  If you are using a Windows XP computer you will need to evaluate your PC to determine if it has the potential for upgrading to Windows 7; if it does then have it upgraded. If it does not, purchase a Windows 7 (NOT a Windows 8) computer. 

You will want to be to be fully operational on a Windows 7 computer before April of 2014, but why wait until the last minute, do it sooner rather than later to improve your selection of Windows 7 computers available for purchase.  
If you have any questions related to this notification, contact Brenda at   

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