A new reminder for those who are still holding on to the Windows 7 operating system—you have one year left until Microsoft ends support for its 9-year-old operating system.
So it’s time for you to upgrade your OS and say goodbye to Windows 7, as its five years of extended support will end on January 14, 2020—that’s precisely one year from today.
After that date, the tech giant will no longer release free security updates, bug fixes and new functionalities for the operating system that’s still widely used by people, which could eventually leave a significant number of users more susceptible to malware attacks.
However, the end of free support doesn’t end Windows 7 support for big business and enterprise customers. As always, Microsoft does make exceptions for certain companies that are willing to pay a lot of money to continue their support.
According to a ‘Death of Windows 7’ report from content delivery firm Kollective, as many as 43% of enterprises are still running the nine-year-old operating system, of which 17% didn’t know when Microsoft’s end of support deadline hit.
Millions of Users Are Still Using Windows 7
Want to know how popular Windows 7 is among users? Even after aggressively pushing Windows 10 installations since its release in 2015, its market share finally managed to overtake the user-favorite Windows 7 just by the end of last year.
Windows 7 was released in 2009 and, according to December 2018 stats from Netmarketshare, is currently running on about 37 percent of the world’s PC fleet, which is far ahead of its radically redesigned successor Windows 8 and 8.1 combined.
Microsoft stopped the mainstream support for Windows 7 in January 2015, but Windows users have continued to receive security updates and patches for known security issues as part of the company’s extended support, which runs for at least five years.
In March 2017, Microsoft also started blocking new security patches and updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users running the latest processors from Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, and others.
“For Windows 7 to run on any modern silicon, device drivers and firmware need to emulate Windows 7’s expectations for interrupt processing, bus support, and power states- which is challenging for WiFi, graphics, security, and more,” the company said.
“The lifecycle begins when a product is released and ends when it’s no longer supported. Knowing key dates in this lifecycle helps you make informed decisions about when to update, upgrade or make other changes to your software.”
Besides ending support for Windows 7 next year, Microsoft will also end support for MS Office 2010, Windows Server 2008/2008 R2, SQL Server 2008/2008 R2, Exchange 2010 and Windows Embedded 7 in 2020.
As for Windows 8, the operating system’s extended support is set to end on January 10, 2023.
What Should Affected Windows 7 Users Do?
If you and/or your business are still running Windows 7, you still have one year left to shift to the latest operating system.
Government agencies and big enterprises can still pay for expensive extended support to continue receiving security updates and patches from the company if they need more than a year to migrate to the newer version.
However, regular users should upgrade their operating system immediately to Windows 10 or a Linux distribution, rather than running an unpatched and increasingly vulnerable version of Windows operating system.
Considering a career in Information Technology (IT)? Well, it all solely depends on some actionable plan. Depending mainly on strengths, many find it seemingly stress-free to decide a track to pursue in the IT field, ranging from Data Analytics, Programming, Networking, Audit, Risk assessment, Blue/Red teaming, database administration, Cloud and Cyber Security.
Bringing a professional IT certification to the table, whether as a prospective or as an existing employee, creates a room to stand out in the job market or being open for a salary renegotiation respectively.
We have arrived at a comprehensive list of top 10 must-have IT certifications for 2019 in ascending order:
#10 CERTIFIED SCRUM MASTER (CSM)
A scrum master is the facilitator or coordinator of any team. In recent years, there exists a dire need to have someone who facilitates, moderates, documents and visualizes the team’s projects (called iteration or sprints). Scrum Masters make use of the Agile methodology which is dependent on the Scrum framework.
In an IT product development, for instance, employees are grouped into smaller subsets called sprints, for the primary intent of reviewing progress and analyzing the next line of action (usually called “show and tell”). Meetings are recurring daily and typically last between 30 minutes to 2 hours, with a lot of post-its, markers, and stand-ups.
#9 CompTIA Security+ CERTIFICATION (SECURITY+)
The CompTIA Security+ is considered the best certification the properly covers the baseline of cybersecurity methodologies including Threats, attacks & vulnerabilities, Identity & access management, technologies & tools, risk management, architecture & design, cryptography & Public key infrastructure (PKI), and Internet of Things (IoT).
Most CompTIA Security+ certification exam takes prefer going the Trifecta route, which involves having to initially obtain the A+ exam, which covers more of IT hardware fundamentals and N+ which includes more of the Network portion of Security+ creating a tremendous overlap between both the Network+ and the Security+ certification exam.
#8 CCDP – CISCO CERTIFIED DESIGN PROFESSIONAL
The CCDP is an advanced Cisco certification for senior roles within the IT networking track including Network design engineers and system engineer analysts. Over the years, Cisco certifications are underrated, resulting to minimal attention drawn to advanced level Cisco certifications and Cisco enthusiasts going for the entry and mid-level Cisco certifications like CCENT, CCNA, CCNA Security, CCNP, CCIE and CCDA which are pre-requisites to the CCDP certification.
The CCDP certification tests advanced physical, logical and technical expertise in network design concepts as well as principles required in developing various layers on enterprise architecture for network devices
#7 CEH – CERTIFIED ETHICAL HACKER
The CEH is called the ‘recruiter’s certification’ in IT, especially within the cybersecurity track, this is because many hiring managers/recruiters love to see this certification in their prospective employee’s resume. The CEH can land you a wide range of jobs from the Security Operations Centre (SOC) analyst or Incident Response analyst to even senior roles like penetration tester and other red teaming (offensive security) jobs.
Surprisingly, many will argue that the CEH, which remains one of the most expensive certifications has lost its value of credibility and given similar CompTIA certifications like CYSA+ and CompTIA Pentest+ a competitive hedge in recent years
#6 MCSE – MICROSOFT CERTIFIED SOLUTIONS EXPERT
The MCSE certification is a Microsoft certification program that specifically for Windows Operating System engineers. It is broad enough to be sub-categorized based on the career path into four main categories:
MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure
MCSE: Server Infrastructure
MCSE: Business Intelligence
MCSE: Private Cloud
“Is MSCE worth it?” is usually a question its enthusiasts can relate to for the one reason that Microsoft Certifications seem underrated and less threat posing in the recruiter’s niche today, or maybe Microsoft is just best at improving the almighty Windows Operating System
#5 AWS – AMAZON WEB SERVICE
Amazon is indisputably the saving grace in e-commerce websites across America and the rest of the world. In 2015, Amazon introduced AWS which is a cloud-based web hosting service that beats its predecessors; Microsoft’s Azure and Google cloud platform hands down.
AWS is a fast-rising certification, gaining credibility and popularity with the intent of becoming IT’s most sought-after certification today. AWS covers the required coursework for cloud practitioners, Web Developers, IT architecture, Security operations and virtual storage techs with four main sub-divisions:
– AWS Certified Foundational
– AWS Certified Associate
– AWS Certified Professional
– AWS Certified Specialty
#4 OSCP – OFFENSIVE SECURITY CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL
Just like its name, the OSCP is the most recognized, top-tiered, respected and valued professional red teaming cybersecurity certification. It entails prior successful completion of the PWK (Penetration with Kali Linux) course as well as the 24-hour hands-on exam testing advanced technical knowledge using the latest ethical hacking tools and techniques and conducting penetration tests.
The OSCP certification is neither a beginner nor intermediate certification but for professional pentesters, blue/red team, security professionals, network administrators and threat hunters seeking an industry leading certification.
It requires a strong background off networking, substantial usage of Linux OS and comfortability writing/using bash, Perl and Python scripts.
#3 CISSP – CERTIFIED INFORMATION SYSTEMS SECURITY PROFESSIONAL
The CISSP is an independent Information Security IT certification governed by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium or (ISC)², referenced as the “Zenith” of Cybersecurity certifications.
The CISSP is an ideal certification for Chief Information Security Officers (CISO), IT Managers, Security Architecture and Engineering, veteran-grade security practitioners and executives who deem it fit to crown their accomplishments with certifications.
The requirements can be cumbersome, one of which includes a minimum of five years of direct full-time security work experience in two or more of the (ISC)² information security Common Body of Knowledge (CBK).
#2 CGEIT – CERTIFIED IN GOVERNANCE OF ENTERPRISE IT
The CGEIT is a highly competitive vendor-neutral certification with the primary aim of testing, validating and certifying IT governance skills, proudly managed by an international professional association known as Information Systems Audit and Control Association or ISACA.
The CGEIT aims at testing the abilities of IT professionals in the practice of delivering quality governance. Similar to the CISSP certification, the CGEIT certification also requires proof of at least five years of experience in job domains related to IT governance including Framework for the governance of enterprise, Risk optimization, Strategic management, Resource optimization
and Benefits Realization.
#1 ACTIVE SECURITY CLEARANCE
Bearing in mind that a Security clearance is not a certification, a security clearance in “active” status is usually issued, administered and coordinated by the United States Government. It is a must-have document, before securing all Federal and most state jobs with an exception for individuals who demonstrate an ability to acquire one within a stipulated time (usually 3-6 months post-employment).
Most security clearances are issued by the Department of Defense (DoD) and categorized as Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret with the amount and detail of information varies accordingly with the level of clearance requested.
Information Technology (IT) is a fast thriving career path in the last decade, with the capabilities of improving age-old programs like C, Python, Java and eventually creating a new approach towards data analytics including practices implored in machine learning, AI and IoT thereby opening doors to new inventions within the IT sector in general. The modes of obtaining an IT certification are now seemed straightforward, as opposed to the last decades, where materials, exams were either too expensive, with limited availability, deliberately hardened for segregative purposes or simply optimized for senior positions.