Newport-based data centre operator Next Generation Data has warned that many SME businesses in Wales will be at increased risk from cyber attack if they continue to run one of the world’s most popular computer operating systems after July 14 this year.

At that time Microsoft will cease supporting its Windows 2003 and Small Business Server software which means there will be no further critical software security updates made available.

“Based on past experiences those who don’t take action now will be highly exposed and targeted by cyber criminals - it’s not a case of if you get targeted, it is a case of when,” said Steve Davis, NGD’s channel sales director.

“If your organisation operates under regulations concerning security and privacy of data then you could also risk penalties for non-compliance.”

With the deadline only a few months away Microsoft believes there are around 10 million Windows 2003 servers in use worldwide still requiring migration to a newer operating system version. In the UK The Cloud Industry Forum estimates that a 1,000 servers per day will have to be updated if companies are to be transitioned from Windows 2003 before the deadline in July.

Steve Davis said: “As your data and IT becomes increasingly critical to your firm’s very existence not to mention competitive edge, these kind of considerations are well worth reviewing.

"You may well decide the office premises are no longer suitable for hosting today’s sophisticated servers. Locating and storing your critical data in a modern data centre can often be more cost-effective than taking up space in your own offices and will ensure they are correctly managed and protected. A dedicated colocation data centre will minimise the risk of unplanned downtime and disruption from potential power outages, flood or fire, as well as from things altogether more sinister such as cyber or even physical attack.”