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Top IT security issues to consider when migrating to a new OS

Jimmy Fong, Channel Sales Director, Southeast Asia, Kaspersky Lab | Sept. 9, 2015
When it comes to information security, what risks are involved in the migration and what should businesses pay special attention to?

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Major events in the IT landscape, such as the availability of a new operating system (OS), cannot go by unnoticed, because they affect businesses of all shapes and sizes. Many will ask themselves "should we migrate to a new version and if yes, when?" Anyone who has ever gone through the process knows that it is a difficult and protracted one, full of questions and considerations.

When it comes to the information security aspect, what risks are involved and what should businesses pay special attention to?

First stage: Planning
Let's start with an evaluation of costs and benefits — a key step in any business plan. The release of a new version of an operating system in itself is not a reason to start migration. There will be additional costs, regardless of the price tag on the OS license. These include hardware and software upgrades, changes in the network infrastructure, consultants, IT and auxiliary staff wages, user training, as well as administrative costs. For example, Gartner estimated the cost of the previous major wave of migration, from Windows XP to Windows 7, at around US$1,200 to US$2,000 per computer.

It is also important to clearly understand how the company would benefit from migration. Will it simplify the administration processes or reduce the time to perform operations, etc.? From a security standpoint, using an older version of the OS brings greater risks and vulnerabilities. For example, as time goes on, the manufacturer may discontinue support for older operating systems and this can be detrimental to the company's business processes.

When a company recognises the need to migrate, the second step is to test its IT services and software for compatibility with the new OS. This will ensure that all compatibility issues are eliminated, so that there is no chance left for loss of important data or downtime. You should also make sure that all hardware meets the new OS requirements. If necessary, include the appropriate adjustments (memory expansion, HDD replacement, and so on) into the plan.

The third step of the planning stage is defining the tools and migration scenario. To ensure migration is as trouble-free as possible for the company's business process, it is important to choose the most suitable software to automate the migration process as well as being able to roll back the scenario if something goes wrong. For smooth migration you should first of all pay attention to the migration tools provided by the vendor of the new OS.

Once a migration tool is selected, create a scenario that includes a thorough description of the process and schedule — will it take place at night or on weekends; will the entire company migrate at once or will it be done by branch, department, floor, etc.?

 

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