Cyber criminals are constantly on the look-out for weak entry points to infiltrate your business. The risk of fraud and online crime is costing each UK small business up to £4,000 per year, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Unsurprisingly, Windows XP has become a prime target for attackers since its demise on April 8. Yet weeks later, many firms are still to upgrade: figures for March showed nearly 30% of desktops were still running the operating system (OS).

Hackers have caught on fast: scams and fake software updates are already starting to emerge 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”.

Identifying the risks

For now, the best thing to do is identify what kind of attacks your business will be susceptible to. As well as the risk of drive by downloads and zero day attacks, it is possible hackers will use unpatched vulnerabilities on Windows XP to distribute ransomware - a type of malware that aims to extort users into paying the hacker to un-encrypt files.

This type of attack can have a crippling impact on small businesses, by taking away access to crucial data and systems.

Educating staff

Avoiding the risks is often about educating your staff: it is important to make your users aware of what they need to do to protect themselves. Clicking on unknown links, even if they appear to be XP setup files, could pose a major risk.

Also beware of offers and downloads that claim to help you update XP - this is only possible through a trusted and well-known provider such as Dell.

As XP becomes increasingly vulnerable, it is likely the risks will multiply. If you haven't migrated to Windows 8 yet, it's quicker and easier to get help from a vendor such as Dell, rather than attempting to go it alone.