Some 20 percent of Greater Manchester Police's computers are at risk of a ransomware hack due to still running Windows XP, according to research from Top10VPN.com.
The research also reports significant public concern about the likelihood and impact of a cyber-attack on the police.
It suggests that a third of the British public are most worried about the police being singled out for attack out of other critical public services and infrastructure. This increases from 33 percent of the general public to 34 percent of people in Manchester concerned that the police might be hacked
Extrapolating the results, half the UK population would expect the government to pay any ransom to minimise disruption if the police were hacked, whereas only 41 percent of people in Manchester would expect the Government to pay. No reasons were given for the different reaction in Manchester , nor for the use of XP by the police nationally.
In an email to SC Media UK, Jamie Moles, security consultant from Lastline, commented: “It comes as no surprise to hear that Manchester Police Force are using Windows XP. Any austerity hit organisation will concentrate their spending where it brings the most benefit to its core mission and with the Police, that is clearly (and rightly) law enforcement, with cyber-security likely to be a lot lower down the list of budgetary priorities.
"The problem however, with still running Windows XP as a desktop operating system is that as an OS that is no longer supported by Microsoft; any security holes discovered in XP will not be fixed by Microsoft. Any penetration tester worth their salt will actively search for Windows XP machines within an environment as these are a known weak spot and easy to take advantage of to fully compromise a Windows Domain based computer network. The solution is to remove Windows XP by upgrading to newer desktop operating systems and by protecting the perimeter with suitable network security solutions. While this isn't a frontline Policing issue, I would strongly urge the Manchester Police Force to upgrade, as a successful cyber-attack on a Police force could cause significant, and potentially life-threatening issues.”