Microsoft's Windows XP source code being leaked online shouldn't be much of an issue if people were no longer using the 19-year-old operating system. With much newer versions of Windows available, Windows 10 being the latest, there are those who still prefer sticking to XP for various reasons.
Some people have old computers that have specs that can no longer handle the requirements of, say, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10. Sure, they can just use any flavor of any popular Linux distro out there but remember, not everyone is comfortable with using a different operating system other than Microsoft's Windows.
Then there are those who, despite being able to upgrade to a newer OS, still choose to stick with XP due to its no-frills user interface and overall ease of use.
We believe in the saying "To each according to his own needs" so we won't frown upon people who still uses a two-decade-old operating system. However, with Windows XP source code now having been leaked, this leaves a lot of potential threats from would-be hackers.
Windows XP source code leak: What happened?
The leak was published as a readily downloadable torrent file on the 4chan website. It consists of a 43GB data dump that is believed to have been compiled during the last few months by whoever the leaker was. This leak also contains the source code for other versions of Windows such as Windows 2000, Windows CE, Windows Embedded, and Windows NT. But we're more concerned about the Windows XP source code leak since XP has the largest userbase among these old operating systems.
A spokesperson from Microsoft has said, "We are investigating and will take appropriate action to help keep customers protected." To date, the leakster has yet to be identified.
Support for Windows XP ended las 2014. This means that after such date, Microsoft's popular OS would no longer be receiving any security updates. However, despite the lack of continued support, many users still stuck with using XP. 1.26% of all laptops and desktop PCs globally are still using XP, as of the previous month. This translates to around 25.2 million computers still running the outdated Microsoft OS.
Windows XP source code leak: What can happen next?
By having access to XP's source code, vulnerabilities within the operating system can now be much easier to identify and accordingly exploit. In short, computers still running on Windows XP are now at a much higher risk of being attacked and compromised.
Still, the leakster has mentioned that Microsoft's Windows XP source code has already been circulating for years within most hacking communities. If this is, in fact, the case, then there's a high chance that the source code has already been scrutinized that it won't have that much of a dreadful effect on XP users.
If possible, we consequently recommend to back up your files and transition over to the latest version of Windows. There's a learning curve but at the end of the day, prevention is better than cure.