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Microsoft is no longer providing any support to users having Microsoft XP installed on their systems. This officially marks the end of Microsoft XP’s run. Statistics say that up to 30% of the world’s personal computers (PC’s) are still using the highly popular Windows XP. This is quite a serious figure, which of course means it cannot be ignored. Microsoft has been pretty busy with encouraging the current Windows XP users to upgrade to the latest version of Windows OS, by pushing the security and safety aspect. However, there are going to be a lot of users who just won’t or can’t upgrade to the latest version (system limitations for example) and will continue to run the 13 year old Windows XP. This will lead to a major vulnerability for these users, and will lead to security breaches if left unattended. In this article, we’ll have a look at how you can keep you Windows XP safe from external threats and reduce the chances of being infiltrated by malicious hackers/coders. Make Sure Your Anti-Virus Is Updated This one should be a no-brainer. Microsoft’s support for Windows XP should not keep you back from making sure you have your own defenses up. By installing the latest Anti-Virus software and keeping it updated with the latest virus definition files, you can virtually guarantee a safe OS. We suggest you should go for any of the top 3 anti-virus software out there. Download, Install and get your OS protected before it’s too late! This routine shouldn’t just be limited to Anti-Virus updates. You should check all your installed programs on your System, and make sure they are all updated to their latest versions and also you should uninstall the software you hardly use with Wise Program Uninstaller. This will reduce the risk of any security breach through such software. Having them updated always help protect your operating system. Stay Away From Internet Explorer! The final version of IE that Windows XP saw was the Internet Explorer 8.0, which means running the old IE 8.0 on your Windows can potentially be a security hazard. The security gateways are outdated, and can lead to a breach. It’s highly recommended to download and install browsers like Chrome or FireFox, rather than risk your system by using Internet Explorer. Make Sure To Backup Your Data It’s always a good idea to keep a backup your data, and keeping it updated from time to time. Bad luck can hit anytime, and with your data backed up, you can always control the damage. Windows XP does not have a proper backup tool, however, you can try the various backup tools and software available out there. Remove Third Party Plugins Most of the security breaches are caused through weakness within third party plugins like Flash or Java. The safest way to go about this is to remove all traces of these third party plugins including Java, Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader. Here I suggest users download Wise Plugin Manager, you can take over control of all the plugins, add-ons and extensions with it. Not a tip specific to Windows XP but a valuable one nonetheless. It should be emphasize that although the tips here will help you mitigate risk, they will not eliminate them and therefore, having a regular, working backup is crucial in case anything goes wrong. Check USB Before Opening Probably the easiest way for your system to be compromised. Mostly, the Autorun feature allows a USB to execute automatically which infects your PC in a heartbeat. Always be weary of the USB content, and make sure to run a thorough scan of your USB with an anti-virus software before opening the USB. Be Careful Using The Internet Let’s say you still need Windows XP to run some crucial business application, or to interface with a piece of hardware that doesn’t work with newer versions of Windows. If possible, you should disconnect that Windows XP machine from the network. Sure, you won’t be able to do this if you need Internet or even local network access on your XP system. But, if you can, this is the easiest, most fool-proof way to keep an important Windows XP computer secure. Other methods might include using your Windows XP in limited mode, which basically removes admin rights, allowing you to work with limited amount of access. If you can’t have admin access, then the hacker won’t be able to either, hence reducing the damage that can be made. The above mentioned tips will help you reduce the risk of being hacked, and make sure your Windows XP experience is as safe as possible.