Security concerns for Windows Migrations

The urge to “get the job done” is a powerful one, and when the job is a Windows migration the pressure to “do what it takes” often results in security policies being overlooked or even suspended. At the same time, migrations are particularly susceptible to temporary security lapses, and “creative” solutions are often used to reach the goal. Unfortunately security is often weakened or compromised, and the more complex the migration, the more opportunities exist for security lapses.

The companies willing to take a temporary hall pass on Windows 7 or Windows 8 to avoid the pain and complexity of an enterprise migration need to be careful. With Microsoft’s April 2014 deadline for ending Windows XP support fast approaching, IT departments need to get serious about orchestrating a well-crafted Windows migration strategy, paving the way to numerous user productivity and security enhancements.

Here are 2 considerations to keep in mind when rolling out a new OS:

Ensure application compatibility issues

Application compatibility is a major concern with any operating system deployment. Many applications running on Windows XP or earlier versions of Microsoft’s operating systems were developed to assume that they were running with administration privileges. Another challenge exists in the form of applications developed to run on Internet Explorer 6.0 and are not compatible with newer web browsers. To get around application compatibility concerns, a company can either redevelop the application or purchase software with similar functionality. However, to test and fix the application or to find an alternative version can be costly and time consuming.

Choose a solution with minimal impact to users, their desktop experience and the network

Despite the obvious financial and productivity upsides, too many companies put off a Windows migration because it’s intimidating and because a large-scale migration project has the potential to disrupt end-user productivity and cast a black-eye on IT. Addressing these issues is best done by first being aware of the problem and then planning the Windows migration with security issues in mind. Keep in mind to always plan, design and test the migration method with a comprehensive attention on security.

Deployment tips for ensuring a successful migration:

  • When creating hardware-independent images, include applications required for all computers in the base image while establishing setting and configurations standardized for multiple users.
  • When migrating applications, identify support status for Windows 7 or Windows 8 along with any compatibility challenges, repackaging or virtualization needs, and custom install requirements.
  • Make images of end user data and personality files and save them to a “safe” file folder.
  • Getting an accurate picture of what you have across your network can be as important, if not more so, than the migration itself.  And being able to quickly and easily inventory your assets and understand your migration readiness with robust reporting is something that must be considered.

So it’s your turn now. What other security concerns do you have when it comes to Windows migrations?