Windows 7 was the biggest victim of the WannaCry outburst, with statistics provided by Kaspersky confirming that the operating system launched in 2009 accounted for nearly 98 percent of all infections.
But there’s also another side of the story: Windows XP, which launched in 2001 and is considered super-vulnerable to hacker attacks, represented only a very small number of attacks, even though most people expected it to be the main target of the ransomware.
“The Windows XP count is insignificant,” Costin Raiu, director of Global Research and Analysis Team at Kaspersky, explained, confirming that Windows 7 was the Windows version that was hit the hardest.
Paradoxically, Windows XP was the latest Windows version to receive the WannaCry patch, as Microsoft decided to publish it separately only after the number of infections across the world skyrocketed.
Windows XP no longer receives support since April 2014, so when releasing updates to fix the vulnerability as part of the March 2017 Patch Tuesday, Windows XP was left out, with Microsoft’s targets being Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10.
On the other hand, a Windows XP patch was developed internally, only that Microsoft rolled it out to customers paying for custom support for the operating system. The patch was developed in February, shortly after Microsoft became aware of the vulnerability that was stolen from the NSA and published online by hacking group Shadow Brokers.
Microsoft eventually decided to publish it online for all users, in order to help them remain secure against the ransomware outburst, but it’s not yet clear how many of these users actually installed it.
One thing is for sure, though: Windows XP wasn’t the biggest victim of the WannaCry fiasco, despite the 7 percent market share that it still holds more than 3 years after it reached end of support.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that Windows XP is secure and malware won’t target it in the future. In fact, the WannaCry ransomware should be a wake-up call for all users who are still running it, as upgrading to supported Windows is the only way to prevent becoming a victim to cyber attacks.