Russian agents have been accused of worldwide hacking operations, but someone at the Kremlin has apparently forgotten to inform Vladimir Putin of the importance of cyber-security.
Putin, 67, appears to have the obsolete Microsoft Windows XP operating system installed on computers in his office at the Kremlin and at his official Novo-Ogaryovo residence near Moscow, according to images released by his press service.
Both computers have the Kremlin towers set as their desktop backgrounds.
Microsoft stopped releasing regular security updates for Windows XP and Office 2003 in April 2014. However, it appears that Russian government regulations have prevented Putin from updating to the more recent Microsoft 10.
The US tech firm warns on its website that computers running Windows XP are “vulnerable to security risks and viruses”.
Windows XP, released in 2001, was the last Microsoft operating system given the green light for use on official Russian government computers, the Open Media website reported, citing defence ministry documents. The more recent Windows 10 is only approved for devices that do not contain state secrets – something that would not seem to apply to Putin’s computers.
Open Media – an opposition-friendly, independent Russian news website – reported that Mikhail Klimaryov, the head of Russia’s independent Internet Protection Society, had confirmed that Putin’s computers were running Windows XP in the photographs.
Moscow is gradually phasing out Microsoft and Google on government computers in favour of Russia’s Astra Linux operating system software and domestic browsers such as Yandex.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, did not comment when asked why Putin continues to use an antiquated Microsoft operating system.
It’s unclear how great a threat Putin’s use of Windows XP poses to Kremlin cyber security: the ex-KGB officer is said to be an irregular user of the internet, which he has previously called a “CIA project”. The predecessor of the internet was the Arpanet, which was founded by the US Department of Defense.
Russia is increasingly seeking to establish control over internet technology. The Kremlin recently banned the sale of smartphones without Russian-made apps, while Putin in February approved a law giving Moscow the power to “disconnect” the country from the global internet.
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