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We all (hopefully) know that continuing to use Windows XP is a risky business.

The operating system stopped receiving security patches from Microsoft in April 2014, which means anyone still relying on the platform is at risk of being impacted by vulnerabilities that are being fixed in more modern versions of the operating system.

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Maybe you decided to run a freebie anti-virus solution like Microsoft Security Essentials on your XP computers in an attempt to protect yourself from the uptick in vulnerability threats and malware attacks. Because Microsoft officially ends XP support for its Malicious Software Removal Tool and updates for Microsoft Security Essentials today.

The key part of the message is written in a tiny font at the bottom of that screenshot, so I've highlighted it up and increased the size of the text for you: As Heimdal Security reports you would be far from alone if you did stick with Windows XP.

It is estimated that XP still has around 180 million users (approximately 12% of all Windows users out there).

My best recommendation to you is to stop using Windows XP entirely, especially if your XP computer is connected to the internet.

Simply finding an alternative anti-virus to run on Windows XP can only be considered a stop-gap, as the updates will not continue indefinitely.

Instead upgrade to a more recent, properly-supported version of Windows or switch to an alternative operating system.

You've been gambling with your security for long enough. Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows.

Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives presentations on the topic of computer security and online privacy.

Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, Google Plus, Facebook, or drop him an email.

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