Q: With the recent ransomware attacks, I was wondering if Microsoft will once again have security updates for Windows XP. There are millions of people who are still using XP, and it is one way hackers can use to infect newer computers, especially if XP is no longer secure.
A: The global WannaCry ransomware attack that hit unpatched Windows systems in May and spread rapidly around the world over the course of several hours did prompt Microsoft to issue a security update for its retired Windows XP system; that fix also blocks last week’s Petya worm. Do not expect regular updates, however.
According to Microsoft, the decision to release updates for Windows XP was an exception based on threat risks and the potential effect on its customers, and does not signal a change to its policy. The company recommends that customers upgrade to the latest version of Windows.
Perhaps the safest way to still use an old XP machine is to disconnect it from the internet and relegate it to being a PC gaming console or an offline word processor directly connected to a local printer. As the years go on, finding programs for the outdated system (first introduced back in 2001) will be difficult, as most companies stopped developing software for Windows XP years ago.
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For example, Mozilla Firefox is one of the few major web browsers that still support Windows XP, although the company says it will provide Firefox security updates only until September. If you want to keep using a Windows XP machine on the internet, third-party security software may be the only shield you have left from online threats. Avast and Kaspersky are two companies that still offer XP-compatible programs.
Find My Friends App and Android Phone
Q: Can an Android phone work with the iPhone’s Find My Friends app?
A: By using the iOS location services feature, Apple’s free Find My Friends app displays the whereabouts of participating friends and family on a map, but it is not really a cross-platform program. The app is designed to work with iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices running iOS 8 or later, as well as Apple Watches with watchOS 3 and browsers logged into iCloud.com.
You may be able to view iPhone users from an Android phone by requesting the desktop version of iCloud.com and logging in with an Apple ID, but things can be easier. Third-party apps that work on both Android and iOS are one solution — Familonet Family Locator and Safety, Glympse, GeoZilla and Life360 are among the free or inexpensive programs; all offer real-time location sharing, messaging and other features. Snapchat recently introduced its Snap Map tool for its users to find each other, but make sure you understand the privacy implications before using it.
This year, Google announced it had added real-time location sharing to its Google Maps app for Android and iOS, as well as for desktop and mobile web browsers. If all the users involved have Google accounts (even if they do not use Android hardware), make sure their Gmail addresses are in your Google Contacts list. Then open the Google Maps app, select the menu button in the upper-left corner and tap Share Location.
Add the people you want to include, select the amount of time you wish to be visible to them and tap the Share button. (If your friends and family do not have Google accounts, you can send them a temporary map link instead.) To see the shared locations, open the Google Maps menu again, select Share Location and choose the name of the person in your sharing list.