Are police still using XP PCS? s? Most refuse to say
Most police forces have refused a BBC Freedom of Information request asking how many Windows XP computers they are using. This includes the UK’S biggest force, London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), even though in June it revealed it was still running 10,000 XP machines.
The MPS’S information manager Paul Mayger said: “Disclosing further information would reveal potential weaknesses and vulnerability”. He added: “This would be damaging as criminals/ terrorists would gain a greater understanding of the MPS’S systems, enabling them to take steps to counter them”.
Several forces said that revealing a large figure would put them at risk of attack, while a low number would make others a target. However, Greater Manchester Police (GMP), the UK’S second biggest force, was forthcoming, saying that XP is still running on 20 per cent of its computers – 1,518 in total.
A GMP spokeswoman told the BBC that XP machines were still being used because of “complex technical requirements” from specialist software. She added that the number of XP computers is being reduced “continually” as the GMP replaces and removes this software.
She also said that disclosing the number of XP PCS does not increase the risk of attack. Dr Steven Murdoch, a cyber-security expert at University Collegeolle London,do agreed, saying that if hackers can gain access to computers “it’s relatively easy to work out which ones are running Windows XP”.
Eight forces confirmed they were using fewer than 10 XP PCS, including Cleveland Police and the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Gwent Police, Wiltshire Police, North Wales Police, City of London Police and Lancashire Constabulary all said none of their computers run XP.