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Is Your Health Organization Ready for Windows Server 2003 End of Service?

26 May 2015 by Christine Kern

On July 14, 2015, Microsoft® will retire service for Microsoft Windows Server 2003, a platform currently in use by many healthcare institutions nationwide. For the organizations not prepared, there could be dire risks ahead.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued an official alert warning businesses of negative consequences if they do not upgrade their Server 2003 operating systems by the deadline. And Department of Health and Human Services data shows that since 2009, the personal health record data of more than120 million people has been compromised during 1,100 separate breaches. The latest cyberattack —insurer CareFirst Blue Cross and Blue Shield — has to be added to the list.

Attack incidents have increased annually, and if healthcare organizations don’t prepare for the end of service for Microsoft Windows Server 2003, the risk of a material breach increases significantly. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said computer systems running the unsupported Microsoft Server® 2003 operating system are exposed to elevated cybersecurity risks such as malicious attacks or electronic data loss.


“We are connecting with healthcare leaders here at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems event to help them understand and then address the end of service so we can limit the risks of exposing sensitive health data,” said David Cristal, VP of sales, public sector and healthcare.

According to Microsoft research data, 23.8 million instances of Windows Server 2003 were running on 11.9 million physical servers worldwide in 2014, or approximately 39% of all installed Microsoft Server operating systems. End of service means that as of July 14, 2015, Microsoft will no longer provide critical support, automatic fixes, updates or technical assistance for Windows Server 2003.

Inaction on the end of service could lead to costly security risks, support risks, budget risks and the potential for expensive noncompliance. The average economic impact of data breaches per organization are totaling more than $2 million, according to a study by the Ponemon Institute on behalf of ID Experts.

Considering that 34% of all malware ever created was coded in 2014, it is highly likely that 2015 will be a year of increasing cyber security threats, meaning that it is not a good time to be unsupported. In fact, 2015 is already considered the year of the healthcare hack, and hackers will be quick to capitalize on the much-publicized vulnerabilities that are created by the end of support.

But end of service does not have to mean the end of the line. Insight can help your healthcare organization manage the transition to a newer, supported operating system, replace servers or transition IT operations to a cloud-based service. But whatever the path, the time to act is now. With Insight’s expert products and services, a successful migration is within reach — one that can transform your data center and ensure that it is prepared to support your long-term IT needs.


“The healthcare and technology industries are working together to make sure the data center holes, big and small, are filled so attackers can’t gain control and severely exploit this issue,” Cristal said.

Insight can help your healthcare organization gain greater agility and opportunities for innovation while simultaneously lowering costs, lowering your IT maintenance burden, and mitigating IT risks. Visit here to learn more about Windows Server 2003 end of support.