Are po­lice still us­ing XP PCS? s? Most refuse to say

Computer Active (UK) - - News -

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.

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