Microsoft announced that beginning November 1, 2021, any customers running on older versions of Outlook will no longer be supported with their Microsoft 365 and Office 365 services. While some people aren’t enthusiastic about change, using outdated or unsupported software and applications is never a good idea. It makes you an easy target for hackers and puts your network at risk of ransomware, malware, and other serious cyberattacks. Microsoft has stated that November 1 isn’t a hard and fast date where you’ll no longer get connectivity, but at any point thereafter, connectivity may be permanently blocked.
What This Means for You
To understand what the security risks are if you don’t have regular systems or security updates, we’re going to describe a simple box analogy. Picture a medium-sized FedEx box. Over time, and after some normal wear and tear the box develops a small hole in the corner. Nothing major, but it’s definitely something that needs to be fixed before you can use it again. So, you simply fix this small hole with some duct tape and a pair of scissors and now it’s almost as good as new.
System patches and updates work in a similar fashion. They are rolled out on a regular basis (generally, automatically, and every few months) to fix these holes, or system vulnerabilities, that gradually over time appear in our software. Cybercriminals take advantage of these system vulnerabilities and are constantly on the hunt for them because they are an easy way to get into the back end of our networks. Without regularly repairing these holes, by way of patches, they’ll grow and grow until basically, your entire network is vulnerable to all sorts of cyberattacks. It’s basically like keeping your front door wide open, and all your windows unlocked, while you head out of town on vacation. Sooner rather than later, hackers discover these unpatched vulnerabilities and will infiltrate your network leaving you with extremely damaging consequences.
Necessary Steps Moving Forward
There are many steps you can take to stay ahead of cybercriminal activities and prevent cyberattacks. The main step we want to address is ensuring your systems are upgraded to their latest version. Once a large corporation, such as Microsoft, informs the public that their support of a program or product has reached its end of life, you must look to other alternatives. In this case of Microsoft Office 2010 not being able to connect to Office365 services post-November 1, you have some options:
- Migrate to the subscription model of Office 365 or Microsoft 365,
- Migrate to the newer Office 365 ProPlus bundle,
- Update to the on-premise Office 2019 for a one-time purchase, and
- Update to the non-subscription Office 2021.
Technology is rapidly advancing, and that means we must also rapidly adapt to its changes. End-of-life support is nothing new. As we evolve and the market shifts, we design better more modern products that support these changes. What that also means is that older software gets replaced. This requires work on our part to ensure businesses and people remain protected. Choosing to forego updating a system and running on outdated technology because you don’t have the time or resources, is unacceptable and dangerous. Eventually, productivity will decrease, costs will increase, and you will encounter expensive system crashes and unexpected downtime. In addition, obsolete technology leaves you open to legal and regulatory compliance risks, not to mention data breaches that can have devastating reputational and monetary consequences.
That’s why, if you’re running on an older version of Outlook and are not sure what direction you want to take, we highly encourage you to reach out to one of our experts at BT Partners and get a discussion started. We can help get the answers you’re looking for and work with you to move towards a solution that fits you and your business.