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How to stay safe as Windows 10 support goes ‘end of life’. (Part Three) – Secure Alternatives to Windows 11

Maintaining data security beyond Windows 11 upgrades

The end of Microsoft Windows 10 support is only months away and the end of Microsoft support can have very significant implications for data security and compliance with industry, sector and education data protection policies.

We know you know how vital the security of your data is. If your school or Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) requires assistance in maintaining data security, our Department for Education (DfE)-recommended ICT procurement framework can provide informed and expert help.

For schools or MATs that want to maintain security on their Windows 10 devices without upgrading to Windows 11, there are several options to consider.

 

Upgrading compatible hardware to Windows 11 may be the solution for schools and MATs that have devices meeting the hardware requirements for Windows 11. This ensures continued security through official support from Microsoft. Here are some key points to consider when opting for this approach:

  • Hardware requirements: Verify that your devices meet the necessary specifications for Windows 11.

  • UEFI/BIOS settings: To install Windows 11, your device should support UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) and have Secure Boot enabled. Secure Boot is a security feature that helps prevent unauthorised software from loading during the boot process.

  • Official support: By upgrading to Windows 11 on compatible hardware, you'll continue receiving security updates, bug fixes, and technical support from Microsoft, ensuring your devices stay protected against potential threats.

 

Integrating third-party security tools can fortify devices when official support for Windows 10 ends. These external solutions mitigate potential risks, enhancing your school or MAT’s overall security. Consider the following factors when exploring this option:

  • Extended security: Third-party tools provide ongoing security updates, vulnerability patches, and threat detection, ensuring devices remain protected against evolving threats.

  • Advanced features: Security features such as firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, endpoint protection, and encryption capabilities work together to strengthen your security.

  • Centralised control: Many tools offer a unified management console, enabling your IT team to efficiently monitor, manage, and update security across all devices for consistent protection.

By adopting third-party security tools, your school or MAT can maintain a secure Windows 10 environment beyond official support, ensuring protection against cyber threats.

 

Transitioning to an alternative operating system can offer an opportunity to prioritise privacy and security. Here are some key considerations when contemplating a transition to a different operating system:

  • Assess your requirements, including performance, compatibility, privacy, and security features.

  • Ensure hardware and software compatibility.

  • Examine security features, such as firewalls and encryption, and review privacy policies for data protection compliance.

  • Consider the learning curve for staff and students, providing necessary training and support for a smooth transition.

 

Purchase Extended Security Updates (ESU) from Microsoft. Microsoft will offer paid ESU subscriptions for Windows 10, providing security updates for up to three years after the official end of support in 2025. By opting for ESU, schools and MATs can maintain the security of their Windows 10 devices while preparing for a smooth transition to a supported operating system. The cost and availability of ESU have not been announced.

 

It is vital for schools or MATs to assess their specific needs and requirements when determining the best approach for maintaining data security. Key considerations include evaluating hardware and software compatibility, balancing budget constraints with upgrade costs, ensuring chosen solutions comply with data security policies, considering transition ease and necessary training, and planning for long-term device and security needs.

 

Contact us to find out how we can help you to maintain your data security through the Windows 10 end of life.

 

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