According to Twitter user @vxunderground, the source code for Microsoft’s outdated Windows XP has been leaked.
The tweet stated that this account does not share leaks, but included a picture of the Google homepage and a highlighted link to a 4Chan forum reporting the leak.
If this is legit, it’s fairly worrying. Windows XP hasn’t received security updates since 2014, leaving it vulnerable to hackers.
Despite being pretty outdated, a lot of important organizations still use the software. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) was apparently still using Windows XP on 2,300 computers as of last Summer. In 2015, the US Navy was still using XP on many of its integral systems. If other public and private organizations are still running Windows XP, this spells a massive potential security threat both nationally and internationally.
So, while you might not think hackers would have any interest in scrolling through the Windows XP source code to find vulnerabilities – after all, with only 1% of the world’s computers using the software, this seems like an inevitable fruitless task – understanding that public institutions are using these outdated systems, Ray Walsh, a digital privacy expert at ProPrivacy, tells PC Guide, “there is a real danger that cybercriminal groups and government-sponsored hackers could potentially seek to make use of the source code to launch a cyberattack.”
Even despite the fact that barely any computers use Windows XP, the source code could be analyzed to spot code that was reutilized in its more recent Windows operating systems – including Windows 10, says Walsh.
He adds: “It is important to remember that Operating Systems are constantly evolving, meaning that the old source code could provide clues that allow hackers to spot vulnerabilities in the more recent versions.”
It’s uncertain yet whether or not this is a legitimate leak. Some Twitter users replied to @vxunderground’s tweet saying that the link looks fake and there are conspiracy theories woven into the torrent – so it could just be a hoax.
Updates to come.