Further attacks on Microsoft's obsolete operating system, Windows XP, have promoted fresh warnings to upgrade.

Last week, a zero-day vulnerability that impacts all versions of the Internet Explorer (IE) browser was fixed by Microsoft. XP was included in the emergency patch, despite the fact that the legacy operating system (OS) is no longer supported by the software giant.

The initial attack, uncovered by security firm FireEye. targeted users of IE versions 9, 10, and 11 on Windows 7 and 8. Despite attackers only targeting those versions of Microsoft IE and Windows OS, the vulnerability impacts all versions of IE, from 6 through to 11.

Adding to this, a newer version of the attack specifically targets obsolete Windows XP machines running IE 8, according to FireEye.

The risks

It is estimated that up to 30 per cent of desktops could still be running XP, even though the platform is at growing risk of drive by downloads and zero-day attacks, which take advantage of unpatched vulnerabilities.

As soon as XP reached its End of Life on April 8, scams and fake software updates began to plague the legacy operating system. These are also emerging through social media, forums and video sharing sites. For example, YouTube videos that profess to be related to Microsoft and XP are pushing adware and viruses, such as a malicious 'Media Centre', have already duped some users.

What should firms do?

Smaller firms still running XP are urged to apply Microsoft's emergency patch and look to upgrade from the OS as soon as possible.

With enterprise-grade, easy-to-manage security, upgrading to Windows 8 is the ideal solution for smaller firms looking to migrate. The process can be made quicker and easier using solutions such as Dell Migration Services, which can halve the time taken to upgrade.