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Is your dealership still using the Windows 7 operating system? As of January 2020, Microsoft is discontinuing all support for Windows 7, which means they will no longer be releasing security updates. If you haven't upgraded to Windows 10 by January 14, 2020, your dealership will be highly vulnerable to attacks from cybercriminals.


This event is similar to when Microsoft retired Windows XP in 2014. Within just a few months, cybercriminals developed dangerous exploits such as malware and viruses that specifically targeted businesses running Windows XP.


Unfortunately, upgrading to Windows 10 isn't as simple as installing new software. In most dealerships that I've seen, the computers running Windows 7 are almost as old as Windows 7 itself. In order to upgrade to Windows 10, you'll also have to upgrade your PCs. Older PCs simply do not have the processing speed necessary to run Windows 10, let alone all your other software applications.


When you start upgrading your PCs, a domino effect starts. Because Windows 10 requires more bandwidth, and your new PCs will be sending and receiving larger data packets, it's very likely you'll also have to upgrade your network switches, WiFi routers and possibly servers.


Many dealerships have small IT teams or even a single IT employee. Sometimes that person is a friend or family member of someone who works in the dealership. If this describes your situation, an upgrade of this magnitude could prove to be a nightmare and major disruption to your business. You might want to consider outsourcing or hiring a temporary IT team to help you with this task.


Another reason to upgrade to Windows 10 sooner rather than later is because of new consumer privacy and data security laws that take effect in 2020. If your dealership resides in a state that has recently passed one of these laws, continuing to use Windows 7 means that you'll be in violation of these new laws.


If your dealership resides in California, Washington, Alabama, Louisiana, Colorado, Nebraska, Ohio or Massachusetts, make sure you're aware of state requirements. If your state is not among those listed, you're not off the hook. Keep checking, because more state legislatures will pass similar laws soon.


To ensure your dealership is safe from cyberattacks, act quickly. As of January 2020, cybercriminals worldwide will be actively targeting businesses still running Windows 7.

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