A legacy operating system is an outdated platform that has reached End of Life (EOL) as a result of new iterations of the technology. These systems are unsupported by the original vendor and run unpatched in a network, making them prime targets for cyber-attacks that exploit known vulnerabilities. 

Data Protection Authorities and Bodies

Data protection authorities and bodies worldwide enforce privacy and data protection regulations. These regulations are region or country-specific and address different issues. They may address specific industries, such as healthcare, finance, and insurance.


Data protection regulations require that organizations protect sensitive data by developing and maintaining secure systems and applications. If your organization is storing regulated data in a legacy system, the bottom line is that your organization is not compliant.


Implications for Legacy System Use
Noncompliance Penalty
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act


A US federal statute enacted in 1996 that required the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.

A HIPAA covered entity must: “run versions of operating system and application software for which security patches are made available and installed in a timely manner.”

Using unsupported and unpatched operating systems results in noncompliance.

4 tiers of penalty, incurring fines up to $50,000 per violation.

The maximum fine per violation category per year is $1,500,000 for a Tier 4 violation.

General Data Protection Regulation


A regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy in the EU and the European Economic Area. It also addresses the transfer of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas.

Article 25 requires: “data protection by design and by default.”

Businesses that use EOL (end of life) software increase their levels of risk, knowingly or unknowingly, and are in breach of GDPR.

There are two tiers of penalties, with a maximum of €20 million or 4% of global revenue (whichever is higher), plus data subjects have the right to seek compensation for damages.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard


A set of standards issued by the world’s major credit card companies intended to protect cardholder information, ensuring that it’s transmitted, stored, and handled securely.

Organizations must “Develop and maintain secure systems and applications.”

Requirement 6.2 (DSS) states: “Ensure that all system components and software are protected from known vulnerabilities by installing applicable vendor-supplied security patches.”

If software is no longer supported, you may no longer be PCI compliant.

Suspension of ability to accept credit cards, liability for fraud charges, credit card replacement costs, and mandatory forensic examination.

Fines vary from $5,000 to $100,000 per month until merchants achieve compliance.


Highly regulated industries, such as healthcare and financial services, incur greater non-compliance fines than other industries. Healthcare data breaches are far more costly than the average breach, due to the industry’s extensive data privacy policies. Organizations in highly regulated countries face higher penalties. For example, Canadian organizations may be fined up to $100,000 (CAD) under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).


The Trouble with Outdated Systems

Legacy systems can cost an organization in many ways:


Data breaches can result in:

  • Theft of intellectual property
  • Loss of confidential corporate and user information
  • Reputational damage
  • Financial damage from loss of business, legal fees, damage claims, ransom payments, product recalls

Fines and Penalties

Data breaches may result in hefty non-compliance fines and penalties from data protection bodies. These fines can affect an organization’s bottom line. According to a 2021 Ponemon Institute study, the average total cost of a data breach increased by nearly 10% to $3.86 million.

Boston Consulting Group found that regulators issued $321 billion in fines to global financial institutions between 2008 and the end of 2016; BCG also found that $42 billion in fines were levied in 2016 alone.

Difficult and Expensive to Maintain

An organization’s manuals and system documentation may no longer be relevant over time, making it difficult for IT teams to maintain legacy systems. Your IT staff may find it very time consuming to maintain and manage these systems. 

Eventually, organizations will find themselves spending more money on maintaining legacy systems than they would have on a timely refresh project.

Incompatible with Modern Systems

Legacy systems may be incompatible with modern IT systems and business requirements. This may create data silos and make it difficult to share data and establish processes with business partners and subcontractors, leading to supply chain security weaknesses.

Inadequate Data Management and Accounting

It may be difficult or impossible for an organization to manage and demonstrate the data in their possession, where it’s stored, for how long it’s stored, and who has access to this data. This has implications for GDPR requirements.

Loss of Competitive Edge

Older systems inevitably fail and incur system downtime, resulting in costs. 

Legacy systems inhibit business growth and scalability. They prohibit you from using new, advanced capabilities. If your competitors are leveraging these capabilities, your organization may miss opportunities. 

Legacy software is often rules-based and forces compliance officers to employ time-consuming, error-prone manual processes. Retiring legacy systems allows organizations to shift to modern, AI-based software that streamlines compliance.

Businesses that rely on legacy systems risk not only falling behind the real-time regulatory environment, but also lagging behind competitors that have modernized compliance and can now automate, streamline, and optimize overall compliance management.


Why Do Legacy Systems Persist?

Despite the risks associated with legacy systems, many organizations continue to use them to run business-critical applications. These organizations may avoid legacy application modernization projects for several reasons; for example, they might lack required budget or resources or they might want to avoid disrupting the operation of a business critical application. 

While it might seem easier to maintain a legacy system, the reality is that the older these systems get, the harder it is to keep them secure and compliant with regulations, and the more risky and costly they become to a business.


Mitigating Non-Compliance Risks with VirtaMove

VirtaMove can help your organization avoid non-compliance violations. Using VirtaMove 

intelligent migration solutions and expertise, migrate business-critical applications away from legacy environments into modern, supported, and secure environments. 

Aim to retire legacy systems on an ongoing basis, as they age and before they fall into EOL and out of compliance.

Once apps are on modern servers, you can perform a vulnerability analysis and remediate applications as required to fix problems, such as cross-site scripting or other software issues.

A modern, secure IT infrastructure will help your organization:

  • Achieve and maintain data compliance
  • Protect client and corporate data
  • Use modern tools to respond to, manage, and recover from a data breach


Moving Forward

Operating systems and applications continuously age and fall out of support, technologies quickly change and evolve, and regulations never stand still. 

In today’s competitive business environment, organizations need to:

  • Readily respond to changes and challenges.
  • Avoid risks associated with maintaining legacy, non-compliant systems.
  • Establish an ongoing approach to infrastructure modernization. 

Organizations can maintain regulatory compliance and protect themselves from cyber attacks by prioritizing hardware refreshes and staying up to date with platform support.

At VirtaMove we’ve migrated thousands of servers across multiple platforms, on-premises or to the cloud. We can help you determine which applications can and should be migrated, how complex a migration is likely to be, and the internal resources you’ll need to successfully migrate your applications.

If you’re looking to modernize your existing infrastructure or are ready to take those first steps toward cloud migration, VirtaMove can help you move your application workloads to a better place and retire those legacy servers

Click here to contact one of our migration experts and book your free demo.

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