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6 Risks of Running Outdated Systems

December 14, 2021 Richard Expert advice

Using outdated systems in your business comes with risks that are disproportionate to the cost and effort involved in updating them. While updating out of date technology might seem like a task that can comfortably sit a fair way down your to-do list, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Ageing legacy systems are far more vulnerable to cybersecurity risks and the financial and reputational damage caused by a breach can be catastrophic for your business. Here are a few headlines to highlight the costs and risks associated with running outdated computer systems:

  • More than two-thirds of the computer systems targeted by the WannaCry ransomware were running an outdated version of Windows (source).
  • You are six times more like to be infected by malware threats if you run Windows XP on your computer rather than Windows 10 (source).  
  • 90% of consumers would consider taking their business elsewhere rather than working with a company using outdated technology (source).

In this guide, we’ll cover some of the basics, take a look at the main risks associated with running outdated systems and discuss some of the issues that can be caused by out of date technology.

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What is outdated technology?

Outdated technology refers to computer hardware and software that has been replaced by newer solutions. Although many outdated systems can still function and do a job for a business, failing to update them can turn what were once assets into liabilities.

In practice, most businesses tend to have a mixture of old and new technology, with equipment and software usually replaced when it becomes outdated or breaks down. However, failing to upgrade out of date technology at the same pace as the competition can prove to be a significant disadvantage and expose your business to all sorts of risks. 

6 risks of running outdated systems

Data loss
Computer crashes have gone from being a common cause of data loss to an unacceptable excuse for failed and delayed projects. That’s largely due to the rise of cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service applications, which store your data remotely and securely in systems that cannot be impacted by a computer crash. If the systems you’re using are out of date, then you have a higher chance of losing data that could have a direct impact on your bottom line.
Reduced productivity
Your teams want to do their jobs well, but outdated systems run slower, take longer to execute tasks and ultimately hold them back. That will limit your team’s productivity and lead to frustration that can even affect their morale.
Security breaches
Your software should be updated for security reasons as well as functionality. By using outdated computer software, you leave yourself open to cybersecurity threats that can impact your whole network, from data breaches to ransomware attacks. And it’s not only your own systems that you should keep up to date. If a third party manages critical data on your behalf, any outdated systems they have can expose your data to additional risks.
Higher costs
Limited budgets are one of the main reasons why businesses decide not to upgrade their systems at their earliest opportunity, but this is a clear example of a false economy. Outdated technology is more prone to failures and downtime, which has an inevitable impact on your bottom line. The cost of supporting the technology also increases as you’re likely to need assistance more frequently and there are fewer service providers to choose from.
Slowing or stalled growth
Businesses with outdated systems face an increased risk of losing their competitive edge and being disrupted by outside forces. Competitors that take advantage of new technologies can expect to see top-line growth that is matched by a lower cost of operations. On the other hand, businesses with out of date technology are more likely to see their cost of business grow at a faster rate than their revenue.
Migration and compatibility issues
If you don’t have a process to replace outdated computer systems in place, you could have migration and compatibility issues when you invest in new technology that does not work effectively with your legacy systems. You could then be faced with the prospect of making wholesale software purchases and migrations all at once, potentially leading to downtime and high installation costs.

High profile organisations with an overreliance on outdated systems

An overreliance on outdated technology is one of the leading causes of outages, disruption and data loss in some of the UK’s largest organisations. A couple of high profile examples include:

  • Banks – A report by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) found that 33% of financial institutions rely mostly on legacy infrastructure, while 58% use legacy infrastructure for ‘some’ functions. This over-reliance on legacy systems and bungled IT changes has been blamed for many of the high profile outages and incidents over the last few years.
  • The NHS – Outdated technology in the NHS slows down and frustrates staff, with reports of doctors having to log into 15 different systems just to do their jobs and even a reliance on fax machines and pagers. With malware attacks on hospitals increasing, there has been a concerted effort by the NHS to update many of its systems over the last few years.
  • The Government – Keeping old computers going costs the Government £2.3bn a year, accounting for half of its IT spending across all departments. Some government systems even fail to meet the minimum cybersecurity standards and have data that cannot be extracted. As an example of the scale of the problem, some of the laptops sent by the Department of Education to support vulnerable children home-schooling during lockdown were reported to contain malware.  

Does your technology need updating?

The best way to ensure that outdated systems don’t cause issues for your business is to partner with a reliable, trusted and proactive IT support provider like Comms Unite. We tailor IT software and infrastructure to meet the specific needs of your business and continually monitor your systems, software and applications to make sure they’re always up to date. 

Take a look at our software and infrastructure solutions and get in touch to discuss your requirements with our team.   


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